Zain participates in Youth Empowerment Symposium
Bader Al-Kharafi: Kuwaiti youth have their print in entrepreneurial innovation
Zain, the leading telecommunications company in Kuwait, announced its participation on the first day of the Youth Empowerment Symposium. This activity forms part of the company’s strategic partnership with the event, and marks its fifth consecutive year of support. The symposium falls under the patronage of HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad AlJaber Al-Sabah.
Zain Group’s Vice Chairman Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi participated in the opening panel discussion titled “Innovation and the Future of Technology” alongside Corey Owens, former Head of Global Public Policy at Facebook and Uber Technologies. Zain Kuwait CEO Eaman Al-Roudhan took part in the discussion panel titled “Lessons for Leading Entrepreneurs” alongside a number of prominent local business leaders.
During his panel discussion, Kharafi commented: “One of the most critical factors for corporate success is providing employees with the inspiration to stimulate collective thinking, and giving them the appropriate space for creativity and opportunity to present their ideas.”
The vice chairman emphasized the importance of entrepreneurship, urging the youth who attended the Symposium to find innovative solutions in non-traditional business areas. He also spoke about the importance of education in a country’s future development and how the education system in Kuwait should transform to offer more innovative methods of learning. He also pointed out that there are numerous examples of successful personalities who are not formally educated but who have still gone on to establish leading institutions, having taken advantage of practical experiences they developed over time.
Regarding technological developments that can represent significant challenges for businesses to adapt, Kharafi said, “Keeping up with the latest technological developments is important for organizations if they are to continue on the right path to guide their development. Zain was quick to embrace innovation and digital services in its operational strategy, entering numerous partnerships and investing in emerging technology companies.”
Zain invested in NexGen Group, as part of its ambition to establish a specialized unit for the provision of smart city services to governments, corporates and real estate developers. Roudhan said, “Successful leadership requires a team that works with one ‘heart’, a team that is innovative and learns from mistakes and continues to improve. Leaders need the power of a good team to assist them in achieving goals.”
The second and final day of the fifth annual Youth Empowerment Symposium (Tmkeen) yesterday witnessed a host of activities to provide opportunities for Kuwaiti youth to gain valuable insights about entrepreneurship from industry leaders, academics and experts. As a national youth initiative, Tmkeen holds this annual conference with the goal of spreading awareness, knowledge and inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs in addition to a myriad of other events throughout the year.
The activities on the second day of the conference started with the final judging committee for the KIPCO Tmkeen Award. This was followed by a panel discussion on ‘SME’s Journey to Global Success’, which featured Hamad AlSayer, Managing Director of Al-Sayer Retail Est, Noor Al-Qatami, Co-founder & CEO of Saveco, Abdulmohsen Al-Babtain, CEO of SPARK Athletic Center, and Talal Al-Ajeel, Managing Partner of Reyada.
“We have successful businesses all over Kuwait. But young Kuwaitis are afraid of taking risks with new ideas, and that’s why we see copy-paste projects,” said Sayer. He added that the reason for seeing a lot of cafe, restaurant and cupcake businesses is because the public sector isn’t supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs. For Babtain, the problem with young people is that they are not creative. “A successful person is one who creates something from nothing,” he said. He noted that everyone must use his hobby and turn it into a business to be motivated, adding that setting up a business requires entrepreneurs to follow up every single detail.
Qatami gave three pieces of advice to young Kuwaitis. “A lot of people accept jobs only because of high salaries, and that’s why they hate them. You have to love what you do,” she explained. She added that young people should not give up on their dreams, but keep up the hard work. Finally, she said everyone who has a business should think about giving back to the society. “The problem is that we steal projects. We are not searching for society’s needs,” Ajeel said, adding that the private sector must help young people to turn their ideas into action. Tmkeen is a national initiative that is delivered by Kuwaiti youth to the youth in Kuwait. It has been holding this annual youth symposium, as well as separate events during the year, to educate, inform and inspire. It also works to assist youth business leaders by providing a training and development leadership program.
During the opening speech on Monday, Ali Al-Ebrahim, President of Tmkeen, said that the conference is held under the patronage of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah, noting that the Amir is always supportive of young people and supports them to achieve their ambitions. He added that small enterprises play an important role in the economic development of countries. “We aim to inspire and encourage small and medium Kuwaiti projects by giving them a chance to meet famous personalities who began small, but later launched prominent brands and became founding partners of major companies,” Ebrahim said.
At the inaugural seminar, Bader Al-Kharafi, Vice Chairman of Zain Group, and Corey Owens, Head of Public Policy at WeWork, spoke about innovation and the future of technology, moderated by Hassan Al-Mosawi. Kharafi said Zain has continually invested in new technologies to stay ahead of the competition. “If we ask people what they want, they will say the latest car and the latest phone the answer will always be related to the newest technologies,” he said.
Kharafi added that companies must have a corporate and creative role to encourage Kuwaiti youth. He noted that Kuwait has talented young people whose ideas should be taken seriously. He explained that education is important to shape the minds of the youth. “The new generation is characterized by constant movement and ambition without borders. The ideas of young Kuwaitis should be implemented and all the difficulties and challenges should be faced. There are a lot of personalities who started from scratch, and then proceeded to establish leading institutions,” he added. Owens noted that the person responsible for the policy of a company should look at the company from a distance to see his moves the way they should be done. “I believe that a successful person is one who disagrees with his manager to take the company towards success. After my experience at big companies, I think that motivation and desire are key, in addition to the team, which encourages you to achieve,” he said. Owens advised young people to surround themselves with people who believe in them, encourage them and trust that they will show their best towards any work they do.
Along with Owens, the former head of public policy at Uber and Facebook, Tmkeen hosted two other successful startup entrepreneurs - Jeremy Liew, a Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners and a key investor in Snapchat, and Jennifer Boulanger, Head of Global Recruitment at Booking.com.
Zain Group’s Vice Chairman Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi
KUWAIT: Bader Al-Kharafi, Vice Chairman of Zain Group (right), speaks during the Youth Empowerment Symposium as Corey Owens, Head of Public Policy at We Work looks on.