Zain par­tic­i­pates in Youth Em­pow­er­ment Sym­po­sium

Bader Al-Kharafi: Kuwaiti youth have their print in en­tre­pre­neur­ial in­no­va­tion

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Faten Omar

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.

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