Embedding a Culture of Youth entrepreneurship in MENA
By Nadera Abuali, Public Affairs Officer, EMEA January 07, 2015 10:54 AM
As Public Affairs Officer for Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, one of my responsibilities includes working with INJAZ Bahrain and INJAZ Qatar to recruit volunteers for our joint Citi Foundation-INJAZ programs. One such program is the "Company Program", and on December 3, I was privileged to attend the 8th annual INJAZ Al-Arab Young Arab Entrepreneur's Regional Competition in Kuwait. I was able to see first-hand the best in class student companies representing 13 countries across the Middle East.
Unemployment amongst Arab youth currently stands at over 26%, among the highest in the world. With a gap between the education system and job market in the Arab World, Arab youth need to take on the role of job creators themselves, which is why innovative educational programs based on developing entrepreneurial skills and mindsets are needed now more than ever. The Citi Foundation-INJAZ partnership enables the next generation of entrepreneurs to develop skills that link to a tangible pathway to overcoming unemployment not only for themselves but creating job opportunities for others through their enterprises.
The student companies that took part in the 2014 Young Entrepreneurs Regional Competition showcased many innovative, creative, and impressive products. The winning teams hailed from countries across the region and highlighted the amazing work of the students. The event also marked 10 years of collaboration between the Citi Foundation and INJAZ Al-Arab, the regional office of Junior Achievement (JA) Worldwide.The Citi Foundation has been instrumental in establishing a regional office of JA in the MENA region. Since 2004, Citi has supported INJAZ Al-Arab with approximately USD 2.7 million in grant investments for operations and programs and the support of more than 2,000 of our Citi volunteers, who have given their time to JA programs. We've also helped INJAZ expand and scale key entrepreneurship projects with newly established chapters as well as commissioning reports such as the "Unlocking Arab Youth Entrepreneurship Potential" report which started a dialogue with six MENA countries to put entrepreneurship education on the high school curriculum. Also at the event the Citi Foundation sponsored Remarkable Customer Service award was presented as part of this regional competition to support the next generation of entrepreneurs become the progress makers of tomorrow.
I was pleased to have been part of the event and proud of my colleagues, the students and our associates at INJAZ Al-Arab who all showed great dedication and leadership. Our work with INJAZ Al-Arab in the Middle East will continue to invigorate a culture of entrepreneurship and improve work-readiness skills among young people across the region through our joint programs.