ICT development must to create jobs: Entrepreneurs

ICT development must to create jobs: Entrepreneurs
Updated 21 December 2014
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ICT development must to create jobs: Entrepreneurs

ICT development must to create jobs: Entrepreneurs

The low input of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to build a culture of openness, creativity and innovation is resulting in Saudi youth facing many challenges in using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in their quest to boost entrepreneurship initiatives.
Entrepreneurs in the field say that there is a huge need for development in ICT support to create jobs for youth.
“Approximately 80 percent of the commercial trade licenses in the Kingdom are for SMEs. However, the breakdown of these businesses, their functioning, the type of licensing required to work in the digital industry and the kinds of regulations which govern their work is a crucial element in their success,” said Sarah Ayed Al Ayed, Chairwoman of Jeddah Entrepreneurs Meet, an interactive platform that provides business and investment opportunities for budding entrepreneurs.
She said that these businesses contribute to the local economy and work force development although SMEs still have a relatively low contribution to the national economy and creation of jobs which stands at less than 40 percent.
She added that the growth of a healthy business environment in all communities depends on the entry of innovative enterprises that help solve a problem for a key target audience. “The enterprises create a demand and provide the service to a target audience,” she said.
“Today, the business environment in the Kingdom is ripe to receive entrepreneurial initiatives to be turned into lucrative business ventures with a key focus on the digital arena (ICT),” said Ayed. “When we launched the Jeddah Entrepreneurs Meet in 2012 over 50 percent of the entries were in traditional business fields such as food production, design and fashion and so forth with less than 10 percent in ICT-related fields.”
Ayed said that today there is a rise in entrepreneurial programs that are ICT centric and there a number of organizations, helping to develop, incubate and help the market and grow the ventures into production sustainable businesses. “The key element here is that such organizations are focused on a set industry and field allowing for its growth and innovation enhancement to help identify the needs and manners in which such projects can grow.”
“However, with this growth in a digitally concentrated industry the need to assess current regulations and policies is of essence allowing for ease of work process and sustainability,” said Ayed. “This matter can only happen with the collaboration between organizations supporting entrepreneurs, the entrepreneurs themselves and the official governmental entities.”
“Entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia face a challenge since there are no “SME” ICT solutions catered to startups,” said Bilal Hallab, Founder of The Social Clinic a Jeddah based social business consultancy & social media agency. “Most, if not all, of the solutions available are for already established midsize companies, or “startups” with millions of riyals in starting capital.”
Hallab added that ICT support is well needed all the way from consulting on the needs of ICT infrastructure to implementation.
“ICT is a vital part of an organization, and its governance is key to sustaining a smooth running operation as well as data capture and protection. We either need the big tech/telecom companies to support the growing startup community in Jeddah or we need some ICT startups.”
“After attending many entrepreneurs’ events mainly in Jeddah, I am still repeating the same recommendations to all, simple but hard to put in practice: Think globally but act locally, think big, start small, then scale or fail,” said Hatem Ben Yacoub, ICT & eGov consultant.
“ICT projects and products can have a very high added value, compared to selling classic stuff for small commissions; which could work only if you know how to build a huge community of customers. Saudi youth have smart, brilliant ideas, but only the lack of some key numbers. Investors love numbers, and that’s what can really boost entrepreneurship, and notice that only ICT can bring these numbers.”