Rethinking Entrepreneurship and Ecopreneurship
The Lebanese Cultural Club at the American University in Dubai (AUD) organized a conference titled “Rethinking Entrepreneurship and Ecopreneurship,” in partnership with G NGO. The conference, in line with Goal 8 of UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, featured several insightful panels and an interactive workshop.
Key speaker Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME, spoke during the session titled Chase the Vision, not the Money, “we know that the hardest part of building your own company from the ground up is knowing where and how to start. As one of the main pillars of Dubai’s economic success, we aim to support entrepreneurs in all phases of their development.” He continued, “The Dubai Government sees the importance of SMEs in developing the economy and today we are leading the march to support and develop entrepreneurs; and encourage the youth to innovate and to establish enterprises.” He also reminded students that all big companies started small.
The first session titled Fail Often So You Can Succeed Sooner involved panelists
Mazen Hayek - Official Spokesman/Group Director of Commercial, PR & CSR of MBC Group, Hamza Farouqui - CEO of Cii Holdings, Abdul Bakhrani - CEO of Digicomm, and Caroline Faraj – Vice President for Arabic Services at CNN, address the students and attendees. The session, moderated by Sonia Weymuller - Founding partner of VentureSouq, introduced the students to traits needed to succeed as an entrepreneur, including ambition, passion, perseverance and hard work.
Abdul Bakhrani stressed the importance of learning from failure, and defined success as “having a good life and people around you being happy… it’s not all about the money."
As for Hamza Farouqui, he urged the students not to give in to fear. “All entrepreneurs wake up every day and deal with issues. It's about having the skills and ambition to reach that finish line, because once you succeed that first time, you will see the clear path of your career. Start your first job, start your first idea. But whatever you do start and don’t procrastinate."
CNN’s Caroline Faraj stressed on the importance of resilience and self-analysis, because people will notice you when you first success but will be harsher on you once you fail.
She also touched on the subject of being a successful woman in the Arab world.
Hard work, a strong sense of drive, ambition and passion are the key words Mazen Hayek spoke of while giving the example of now famous Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab, “he is self-made, self-taught, and works 14 hours a day to maintain his global fashion brand.”
The second session titled Show Me The Money hosted panelists Antonelio Leone - Marketing Director at Careem, Stephanie Holden - Head of Strategy at MBC Ventures, Essam Disi - Director of Strategy and Policy at Dubai SME, and Hadi Raad - Head of Emerging Products and Innovation at Visa, introduced students to the available services for startups.
Stephanie Holden introduced MBC Ventures, the venture capital arm of MBC Group, which invests in Telecommunication Media and Technology in the region and have a special fund allocated to start ups in the sector. She also gave tips on starting a business and the different steps to follow particularly the first eighteen months.
Hadi Raad’s talk entitled Payments In a Digital World touched on technology trends today, and introduced the students to Visa’s services, including Visa Checkout and the
Visa Developer Platform.
Essam Disi introduced Dubai SME, established in 2002 as a resource for support, information and outreach for the growing small and medium enterprise sector. He explained the difference services available for startups including Business Start Up & Development, the Hamdan Innovation Incubator, Entrepreneurs Development, and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund For SME. He concluded on the importance of promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
“An entrepreneur is a fighter, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” commented Careem’s Antonelio Leone, stressing that while a business of course needed to be profitable, it also needed to make a difference in society.
Making Something People Want was the title of the fourth and last session, which hosted Nadine Bitar - CEO of Placemaking and AUD Adjunct Professor, Dana Al Mehza - Junior Research Executive at YouGov, Marcus Butler - Territory Manager at LinkedIn, and AUD Graduate Omar Al Busaidy, Author of Just Read It.
Nadine Bitar encouraged students to build on a project which will leave a legacy. She shared the emotional journey which lead her to quit her job and open her own design business consultancy, one she proudly boats about as it advocates the importance of building cities and communities around human beings and local contexts.
Dana Al Mehza stressed the importance of research agencies and their role in helping companies and individuals understand consumers through observation, different methodologies and analysis. She used two examples of failed innovations revolving around water purification to highlight that the success of an innovation is highly dependent on market research. “The link between the innovator and the consumer is market research.”
As for Marcus Butler, he stressed the importance of powerful LinkedIn tools like the Economic Graph to support and develop business strategies. He stressed that “in this world of constant change, we need to be adapting all the time and embrace technology as a way to navigate this change.”
AUD graduate Omar Al Busaidy explained the attitude of an entrepreneur referring to the contents of his book Just Read It, a motivational book based on social and emotional intelligence traits that people can develop to do something with their lives that can help themselves and others. He mentioned having built several businesses from scratch only to see them fail later on. He is now the owner of a men’s salon that has broken even in its first year. He finally urged students to attend conferences, network and never stop learning. Apart from being a business owner, Omar is also Tourism Investment Promotion Manager at the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority.
The workshop, titled Your Business Your Roller Coaster was conducted by Tarek Sultani - Brand Consultant at events company Craftstudio. Tarek combines knowledge of the Middle East markets, understanding of local nuances with a high level of international expertise and a profound knowledge of marketing and brands. Sultani asked students to choose between having corporate job or following an entrepreneurial journey. He discussed four crucial points for entrepreneurs 1) build your brand, not just a business; 2) Maintain Balance; 3) Invest in culture; and finally to 4) Focus on the bright spots.
The conference was inaugurated by Myriam Bunni - Vice President of the AUD Lebanese Cultural Club, followed by Nader Nakib - CEO - G NGO, and Dr. Mohammed Abu Ali – Dean of the AUD School of Business Administration.
Nader Nakib urged the students to invest in their dreams and be part of the 3% entrepreneurs and not the 97% employees of this world. G, operating since 2009, is a Green living NGO committed primarily to provide effective solutions for businesses and organizations to promote a healthier environment, a cleaner earth, and a more sustainable future.
American University in Dubai
The American University in Dubai is a private, academically and culturally inclusive institution of higher learning, providing a globally recognized American education.
Delivering a student-centric, forward-thinking learning experience to over 2000 undergraduates, graduates and professionals from more than 100 countries worldwide, we seek to empower and enable the leaders and pioneers of tomorrow.
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