RIYADH: The entrepreneurship arm of Saudi Aramco, Wa’ed, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu (RCJY) to support the creation of new startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Saudi Arabia’s two largest industrial cities.
The MoU was signed by Wa’ed managing director, Wassim Basrawi, and RCJY general manager, Dr. Ahmed Zaid Al-Hussain, at a virtual ceremony.
The agreement with the RCJY, which oversees the industrial cities of Jubail and Ras Al-Khair on the Gulf, and Yanbu and Jazan on the Red Sea, is part of Wa’ed’s ongoing efforts to support the Kingdom’s SMEs, especially those in the energy and petrochemicals sectors.
The new collaboration calls for Wa’ed to support entrepreneurship ventures opening within Royal Commission industrial cities for potential non-collateralized, low-cost loans from Wa’ed.
The announcement by Wa’ed was the latest in a wave of collaborations intended to raise the pace and quality of SME creation in the Kingdom and speed the nation’s economic diversification.
In November, Wa’ed formed a partnership with Oqal, an angel investor network in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. That was followed in December by an alliance with the economic development agency of Madinah. Last week, Wa’ed signed an MoU with Taibah Valley Co., a startup hub in Madinah that specializes in blockchain, internet of things, and artificial intelligence.
Basrawi said: “This new collaboration aims to boost the pace and quality of Saudi’s newest industrial players and it potentially gives Wa’ed an exciting new role as a key enabler of mission-critical industrial startups.”
Al-Hussain said: “We are grateful for this collaboration with Wa’ed, which will support our drive to expand Royal Commission industrial cities to include the latest innovative SMEs that are helping modernize and localize the nation’s industrial sector value chain.”
The Royal Commission was set up in 1975 by King Khalid to diversify the Saudi economy by harnessing natural gas from oil extraction to create Saudi’s petrochemicals industry.
Wa’ed in January reported that it had tripled the amount of money loaned to startups in the Kingdom in 2020. The Dhahran-based initiative gave out 12 loans to SMEs, up from four in 2019, with the total value surging to SR31 million ($8.27 million), up from SR10 million in 2019.
“In a very challenging year, I am proud of the Wa’ed family, which includes my team and our resilient entrepreneurs, for rising to the challenges and keeping us on track to deliver an even greater impact in 2021,” Basrawi said.