Silatech and AUDI organises Arab Youth and Entrepreneurship conference
- Qatar: Wednesday, February 20 - 2013 at 10:18
- PRESS RELEASE
A three-day conference organized by Silatech and the Arab Urban Development Institute (AUDI) wrapped up Monday, with over 350 attendees from throughout the region sharing strategies and lessons in promoting youth entrepreneurship.
Silatech and AUDI co-organized the Feb. 16-18 event in partnership with the Global Partnership for Youth Employment, the World Bank and others.
Qatar Shell was the Gold Sponsor of the conference. Silatech is a Qatar-based social initiative that works to create jobs and expand economic opportunities for young people throughout the Arab world.
Leading entrepreneur and Founder and Vice Chairman of Aramex Fadi Ghandour stressed in the keynote address, "It is of utmost importance to offer young people the needed backing and right environment that will encourage them to build their future with their own hands and support their projects, noting the positive difference this support will have on the lives of the young entrepreneurs. He also stressed on the vital role the private sector can have in supporting the social and economic development in the countries and societies in which they operate."
Later the same day, entrepreneurs and civil society representatives from throughout the Arab world discussed their experiences in entrepreneurship-related interventions, and explored regional trends and challenges facing young entrepreneurs.
The Arab region has the world's highest rate of unemployment among young people, at 25%. A substantial number of initiatives have been introduced over the past decade to improve employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for youth. While some of these have achieved their objectives, the region has yet to realize the full potential benefit of a holistic, coordinated approach to youth entrepreneurship programmes.
Day 2 of the conference began with delegates presenting examples of successful coordination among governments, the private sector and civil society organizations in support of youth employability and entrepreneurship.
According to Silatech CEO Dr. Tarik M. Yousef, "The problems young people face in our region cannot be solved by governments alone. The same can be said for the private sector and for civil society. Adequate solutions to the challenge of youth employment will require sustained and serious effort on the part of all three, as well as coordination among them to broaden and deepen the impact of interventions."
Dr. Abdulsalam Al-Sulaiman, Director of the Child and Youth Programme at AUDI, "Arab cities, towns and municipalities need to be at the forefront of efforts to encourage entrepreneurship and address unemployment for young Arabs—but they need the full support and participation of both the private sector and NGOs as well. We believe events such as this conference help to build bonds of cooperation and knowledge sharing that will strengthen efforts to spur economic vitality."
Participants later heard from a number of the region's leading social entrepreneurs and technologists, who showcased examples of how innovative approaches can promote positive social good while maintaining financial sustainability. 'Leading Social Change through Entrepreneurship and Technological Innovation' was sponsored by Qatar Shell.
The day's final sessions focused on innovative approaches to working with youth, as well as how to maximize social impact by mobilizing multisectoral collaboration.
The conference concluded on February 18 with a half-day workshop on entrepreneurship policy in Qatar. 350 participants from a broad spectrum of public and private organizations involved in Qatar's 'entrepreneurship ecosystem' discussed how to raise awareness of the state of entrepreneurial activity in Qatar, as well as the organizations and individuals most heavily involved in promoting entrepreneurship; participants also identified several potential areas for policy engagement and policy reform.
The SILA Angel Investment Network held its first angel investor roundtable on Sunday afternoon in conjunction with the 'Arab Youth and Entrepreneurship' conference. 'Kickstarting Angel Investment: Regional Experiences and Approaches' featured leading angel investors and entrepreneurs from throughout the region—including Fadi Ghandour (Founder and Chairman, Aramex, Jordan), Khalid Ismail (Chairman, Endeavor Egypt), Hassan Haidar (CEO, Tenmou, Bahrain), Shareefa Fadhel (Managing Director, Roudha Center, Qatar), Ahmad Alfi (Chairman, Flat6Labs, Egypt), Salem Al Kuwari (Entrepreneur and Angel Investor, Qatar) and others—sharing their experiences about stimulating angel investment in their respective countries.
Finally, Silatech expanded its regional partner network by signing a number of agreements during the three-day event. Silatech and Saudi-based social enterprise Glowork signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) paving the way for future cooperation in bringing online employment resources to Saudi women.
Silatech also reached agreement with Yomken, the first Arab hybrid open-innovation and crowd funding platform that supports microentrepreneurs/ crowd-sourcing in the region. Meanwhile, ictQatar announced that it will join the Employability Resources for All Digital Alliance (eRADA), an initiative by Silatech and Microsoft to develop and deploy Web- and mobile-based employability portals across the Arab region.
In addition to the partners and organizers, some of the organizations participating in the conference included the Youth Employment Network (international), Qatar Foundation, Glowork (Saudi Arabia), Al Amal Bank (Yemen), the American University of Beirut (Lebanon), the Zikra Initiative (Jordan), the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (Egypt), the Fayhaa Union of Municipalities (Lebanon), Save the Children Egypt, Amman Municipality (Jordan), Fayaa Union of Municipalities (Lebanon), Souktel (Palestine), the Roudha Center (Qatar), the Sudanese Development Organization, BMCE Bank Foundation (Morocco), the Ibda'a Centre for Saudi Women, Ruwwad (Jordan), MENA Geothermal (Palestine), the Tunisian Entrepreneurship and Spin-off Association, and Wamda (regional), to name a few.
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