D. Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi provides a shield to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
In an exclusive interview with Riyadh Newspaper, Dr. Al-Mutairi said that TCF, along with the entire business sector, appreciates the support the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, in embracing the entrepreneurship sector and supporting the dissemination of the entrepreneurial vision among young people as an encouragement towards seeking self-employment. King Salman’s role has been instrumental in minimizing obstacles that limit the impact of entrepreneurship in the small and medium enterprises. The following is the text of the interview:
How do you see the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s role in supporting the entrepreneurship sector?
At TCF and throughout the entire business sector, we have noted and appreciated the unlimited support of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz. Throughout the course of TCF’s existence, King Salman always supported projects that serve the national economy and the Kingdom’s role in the development of the regional economy. Additionally, he has been instrumental in spreading support for the entrepreneurial vision among young people as an encouragement towards seeking self-employment. King Salman’s role has been critical in minimizing obstacles that limit the impact of entrepreneurship in the small and medium enterprises and in supporting the funding initiatives necessary for the continued development of entrepreneurship locally.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, sent a message in the last cabinet discussions to enable support for young entrepreneurs. This is not surprising from him, as he has always been a strong supporter of youth entrepreneurship based upon his belief in the role of young entrepreneurs in promoting economic growth, exemplified by the launch of an award for young entrepreneurs, as well as the establishment of King Salman Youth Center. The Kingdom has been experiencing significant growth in entrepreneurship since King Salman’s reign began as a result of the focus on developing the existing knowledge-based economy via entrepreneurship and innovation. In fact, today we see the majority of universities in the Kingdom are establishing centers to support entrepreneurship among its students, along with other government and private sector efforts to support entrepreneurial leadership.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah provides a shield for the presence of the honorees
The future of entrepreneurship in the Kingdom looks bright and prosperous, as indicated by the presence of several factors required for successful business industry leadership, including viable human capital in the Kingdom's youth, the availability of funds for capital investment in new ventures, and the King’s vision of Riyadh as the world’s capital of entrepreneurship in the next decade. In this light, The Centennial Fund, in cooperation with our international partners, aiming to achieve this vision, has launched more than 20 initiatives and strategic partnerships, including Youth Business International, the G20, the Global Entrepreneurship Forum - held annually in Riyadh – the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance, the Gulf Cooperative Council Union of Entrepreneurs, the HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah International Award for Entrepreneurship, and, under the auspices of former US President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative. Additionally, TCF has established Centennial Valley in conjunction with local universities to serve as an incubator for entrepreneurs, and TCF has also announced the launch of the International Academy of Entrepreneurs.
The Centennial Fund has recently signed a series of agreements with the Kingdom’s most powerful support funds in order to achieve its vision of supporting youth projects to achieve the desired economic growth. Are we learning more about these support funds, and what are their objectives?
SMEs of today face several significant challenges with their dependence on traditional charitable funding, so The Centennial Fund has attempted to resolve these challenges through the launch of funds that support social entrepreneurship. The social participation and support of the owners of thought leadership and entrepreneurial projects, is the basis of the building blocks of society and the renaissance and a leading economy. More importantly, supporting SMEs is considered an important social responsibility that impacts the entrepreneurs, the local communities, and the local economy, contributing to the development of our young men and women. The social enterprise programs have enabled many Saudi female entrepreneurs to support their low-income families, orphans, and special needs children. Tourism is a sector in which we are witnessing significant entrepreneurial growth, by the way, and these programs are instrumental in supporting this growth.
While we do have a few strategic partners in this initiative, including the Dabbagh Group, enabling us to continue to support under-developed regions and low income families, I call on the family business, businessmen and participating banks as strategic partners in this initiative.
What are the goals achieved by the entrepreneurs of the Gulf Cooperative Council Union of Entrepreneurs?
In fact, the idea of the Union began in 2012, when The Centennial Fund launched an initiative in Kuwait after an order from King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz to form a cooperative union. An agreement was signed during the launch of the HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah International Award for Entrepreneurship ceremony in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, Deputy Foreign Minister, along with a number of local and international ministers and dignitaries, and there was significant media coverage on that day.
In fact, the Union has made many achievements despite still being a fledgling organization. The most important of which is finalizing its charter and welcoming 12 member organizations that support entrepreneurship in all GCC countries. In fact, Yemen has recently been approved as an associate member in the last Union meeting.
Union has agreed to hold 5 Board of Directors meetings in Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Union’s strategic plan was launched during a workshop held in January 2014 in Qatar. The key aims are to develop a roadmap for the Union that supports its vision and mission, along with the identification number of committees that will work to achieve the objectives of the Union in order to contribute positively supporting young entrepreneurs in the Gulf states and conveying their voice to world leaders and policy-makers in order to serve entrepreneurs and the development of small and medium enterprises.
What is the role of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Centennial Fund Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah in supporting the work of The Centennial Fund?
As you know, the Centennial Fund non-profit organization, was established by Royal Decree No. 190 / a in 1425.
Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah is President of the Fund, in addition to being the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Centennial Fund. His Highness is keen to support the aspirations of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and his vision in supporting young people to start small and medium their projects, to be a supporter of the entrepreneurs under the new economic trends in encouraging business initiatives for small investors.
Prince Abdulaziz is continuously advising us on the launch of initiatives and programs that support youth projects to help reduce unemployment and the development of the local economy rate, and confirms the need to enable the younger generation to become successful business owners via education and training, as this approach will ensure the entrepreneurs’ success.
The Centennial Fund recently launched an initiative call Child-preneurs, targeting youth between the ages of 8 to 16 years. How did you get the idea for this wonderful initiative?
This initiative was launched by His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah, and it is one of our most important initiatives. The initiative aims to promote creativity and innovation, leadership and skills of self-development in children to help them discover and support their interests, and enrich their talents in a stimulating and supportive environment, and to create a fertile environment for thought leadership designed to fit children. In this regard we thank the Minister of Education Dr. Azzam Al-Dakhil for his support and adoption of this initiative so that the Ministry of Education has become a strategic partner in this initiative.
What is the aim of the International Academy for Entrepreneurship?
The International Academy for Entrepreneurship is one of our latest initiatives, launched just this year. It aims to stimulate entrepreneurship education and training, rehabilitation and academic research, and to find innovative solutions to create projects and development in Saudi society, and to be a learning experience for those interested in entrepreneurship.
The academy has been designed to fit the Saudi business environment and needs of the local and international markets. The academy did not emerge from a vacuum, but came to build on the gains of the Training and Research Center.
What about honoring the former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad during Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Prize ceremony this year?
The General Secretariat of the HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah International Award for Entrepreneurship has announced that former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad will be awarded the Entrepreneurial Leadership Personality Award for 2015 in the award ceremony which will be held in Riyadh on November 3, 2015. He has been selected in recognition of his rich experience in supporting entrepreneurship and SMEs all over the world, particularly youth entrepreneurship.
What are the initiatives to be provided by The Centennial Fund in the field of entrepreneurship to strengthen the role of the Kingdom of regionally and globally?
The Centennial Fund seeks to serve the community through more than 20 local and global initiatives that focus heavily on developing innovation and localizing technology to transform into a knowledge-based economy. Some of these initiatives are Microsoft Center and Centennial Fund for Entrepreneurship, and the BlackBerry Academy of The Centennial Fund, and the initiative of the Centennial Fund and Intel for innovation.
What is the strategic plan that the Centennial Fund intends to achieve by 2020?
The Centennial Fund is working hard and struggling in all fronts to achieve the main objective of its existence, which is to educate and train young entrepreneurs until we reach 70 thousand trainees. With respect to mentors, we are aiming for 15 thousand, and we hope to create about 28,000 jobs by the end of 2020 through small and medium enterprises.
How many associate trainers are with the fund and what is the nature of the tasks entrusted to them?
The number of trainers working with us was more than 8,000 by the end of 2014. Additionally, we have more than 5000 mentors to support our entrepreneurs.
Counseling is one of the one of the most important services provided by The Centennial Fund and by which we are able to attract volunteer mentors volunteers with practical experience in order to support young entrepreneurs and transfer expertise to them. Our research on global best practices has helped us develop an outstanding counseling program. In fact, studies have demonstrated the importance of mentorship in the success of small businesses.
Director General of the Centennial Fund, speaking to fellow Fahd Almorka
(Lens - Ammar Al-Melhem)