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Calling all ‘wantrepreneurs’
A November event is set to launch a new era of small company creation in the region. Kipp was at the launch.
October 13, 2010 3:35 by Samuel Potter
A major new event set to take place in November will revolutionize the face of entrepreneurship in the region, according to organizers.
Last week, Kipp reported that entrepreneurship could prove to be the Middle East’s most effective weapon against the financial slump. Now it seems some of the most successful business people in the region had the same idea, and have leapt into action to create a platform that will allow them to engage with new and aspiring entrepreneurs.
They’re calling it a celebration of entrepreneurship; the idea is that more than 1,200 entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders and finance providers will come together in Dubai to create an “enabling” environment for entrepreneurship by empowering and connecting entrepreneurs.
“It’s not a conference,” says Arif Naqvi, the founder and group CEO of Abraaj Capital (Abraaj is the region’s biggest private equity firm and shareholder of Mediaquest Corp., publisher of Kipp). “We call it an unconference, we call it a celebration. It’s a one year MBA accelerated in two days. They’re going to meet everyone that they need to meet, they’re going to see everything from access to capital to why to start a business to how to start a business, to what is it that we expect as an outcome at the other end.”
Abraaj is organizing the event. At the launch, Naqvi was joined by Fadi Ghandour, CEO of Aramex and founding partner of Maktoob who spoke passionately about the need for business figures to join forces to lobby government to create a more SME friendly environment across the Middle East. The pair also touted Wamda, an online portal for entrepreneurs, mentors and stakeholders to communicate and collaborate. They were joined by some familiar faces from the local entrepreneurial scene, such as Peyman Parham Al Awadhi and Mohammad Parham Al Awadhi (founders of Wild Peeta) and Ravi Bhusari (co-founder of Duplays).
The November event will feature workshops, inspirational talks by high profile speakers (according to the list seen by Kipp, the event has attracted well over a hundred of the region’s biggest business names), one-to-one mentoring sessions, and a chance to interact with key institutions, finance providers, policy makers and service providers. The event has also drawn in 50 partners, including universities, NGOs, and multinationals.
“The whole point is to enable the maximum number of concepts and ideas to be discussed in a structured manner – in relation to entrepreneurship – over that period of time and come out with very tangible outcomes,” says Naqvi. “The structure of the event will be total open architecture. Total thematic driven processes. You start with the thinking of what a big business leader in this region thinks about a theme, and then you take it through down to the grass roots. And then you evolve outcomes, ideas, research, through that process of the two days, and come out with what it is that the region needs, what it is that the business community needs. And we work off that until the next year when we do it again.”
You’d be forgiven for thinking Kipp has to tout this event, given our publisher’s connection to Abraaj. But we really don’t – we genuinely believe this is a positive step in the evolution of entrepreneurship in the Gulf and wider region, and it is badly needed. Entrepreneurs will create the wealth and jobs of the future, but the environment for new start-ups here can be unforgiving. Anything that can bring them together with powerful business figures to help facilitate entrepreneurial venture is long overdue and very welcome in Kipp’s eyes.
The event takes place on Novmber 8 and 9 at Madinat Jumeirah Dubai. More details at www.abraaj.com/celebration.