Held under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, the 5th annual INJAZ Al- Arab Young Entrepreneurs Competition concluded following a period of intense deliberation with Palestinian Student Company, ESCO selected as ‘Best Company of the Year’.
Commenting on her team’s win, Shuq Masri, CEO of INJAZ Palestine said, “This has been a highly motivating and engaging experience for the Palestinian students. Throughout the various levels of the competition the students have had to deal with real life business challenges and come up with strategies to deal with them. The whole experience has helped them understand what it means and takes to become an entrepreneur in today’s competitive environment.”
The criteria on which the student companies were graded included their ability to demonstrate sound business acumen, financial knowledge, marketing support and feasibility studies. Students spent three days showcasing their products, presenting to the public, and had a private and quite rigorous Q&A session with the judges.
The winning company was chosen by an esteemed panel of judges including; Ahmad Al Shugairi, TV Presenter and Author, Abdul Aziz Al Yaqout, Regional Managing Partner, DLA Piper, Hani Kablawi, Executive Vice President, Head of EMEA Client Management, BNY Mellon, Magdi M. Amin, Manager of Investment Climate Advisory Services in the Middle East and North Africa, International Finance Corporation and Rana Ghandour Salhab, Regional Talent & Communications Partner, Deloitte Middle East.
Commenting on the competition, Soraya Salti, Vice President MENA of INJAZ Al Arab, said, “Youth unemployment in the MENA region is amongst the highest in the world. With more students graduating from higher education and a lack of available job opportunities, graduates need to look at alternative options. Entrepreneurship and innovation are excellent alternatives. Not only is entrepreneurship a driver of economic growth, it should also be considered a real possibility for graduates. This event is designed to provide students with an opportunity to learn about and gain an understanding of the real-life processes for establishing a business in a safe environment. All of the students have shown huge potential and entrepreneurial spirit and we wish them the best of luck in their future careers.”
Other winners at this year’s awards include; Kuwait, Evaluate Me for the creation of the ‘Best TV Advert’ awarded by the Jordanian Royal Film Commission; Youth Yell, Morocco for ‘Most Innovative Product’ and Saudi Arabia, ‘Catalyst’, for the team that demonstrated the most improvement in terms of acquisition of business knowledge and know-how.
For the first time in the competition’s history a new award category was created, the FedEx Access Award. UAE student-run company, GLights, took home the accolade for the best business plan with the potential to create jobs, grow small business, expand global development and improve the environment.
“New kinds of global, digital connections are driving our economy and these same connections are saving and creating jobs,” says Mike Ducker, COO and President, International FedEx Express. “In preparing for the competition these students studied international trade issues and successfully identified strategies for trading in a dynamic global environment. Through Glights we can all see how their business ideas create opportunities around the world. It’s easier and easier for people like these young entrepreneurs to successfully enter the global marketplace with a winning model. I congratulate GLights on their smart business strategy.”
The INJAZ Al-Arab annual Young Entrepreneur Competition was launched in 2007 by INJAZ Al-Arab, and is open to all the local competition winners from across the INJAZ Al Arab network in MENA. This year the competition saw 11,000 students participate with the creation of 162 student companies from 12 countries including; Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, and Yemen. Each team represented at this year’s competition, following winning the national level in their home countries.
INJAZ Al-Arab would like to thank this year’s sponsors; King Abdullah II Fund for Development, MEPI and FedEX.