Vision 2030 inspires a new wave of young entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: It’s not every day that a neighborhood surgeon in Jeddah puts down his scalpel and forceps to pursue an entrepreneurial dream of guiding people through fascinating dunes and stretches of Saudi Arabia unless, of course, there is entrepreneurship at work. the air.

Five years ago, 33-year-old Abdulrahman Al-Saati shocked his friends and family when he gave up his medical pursuits to set up an experiential tourism company called Destifind that offered wanderlust lovers the chance to explore the unique ground of the Kingdom.

He didn’t plan on making his guests sit up and take notice, but that’s what he did. His company offered beach experiences, camping and hiking for those eager to get closer to the heart of civilization.

The result was encouraging. Starting with an annual revenue of SR360,000 in 2017, the company earned SR3.5 million in 2021.

“We have been expanding year after year, and our initiative this year is to transition from a heavy operations company to a digital platform to become an enabler of the tourism community,” said Abdulrahman Al-Saati, the young and radiant CEO. by Destifind. .

The company has earned two million Saudi riyals in the last three months and expects to close the year between four and six million Saudi riyals. According to Al-Saati, business activity has accelerated due to the Kingdom’s growing support for small and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs.

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More and more people see entrepreneurship as a viable option, and that is evident with official figures citing SMEs growing from 447,000 in 2016 to 614,000 in 2020.

“The government is always ready to solve any problem faced by SMEs, and we are witnessing constant support and follow-up,” said Al-Saati.

As part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, it seeks to increase the contribution of SMEs to GDP from 20% to 35%. More and more people see entrepreneurship as a viable option, and that is evident with official figures citing SMEs growing from 447,000 in 2016 to 614,000 in 2020.

demographic advantage

In addition to the growing number of companies, there is also a demographic advantage that is driving this transformation. According to the US-based industry body’s Global Entrepreneurial Monitor, or GEM, index, 70 percent of the UK’s population is under the age of 30.

Abdullah Al-Amri, a 24-year-old fashion entrepreneur, owns a streetwear brand called Bucketbox. Educated in the US, he wanted to carve out a niche of his own in the fashion industry and a brand that was contemporary yet woven into the roots of his culture.

“I definitely plan to take it a lot further. I want to explore fashion styles other than streetwear,” Abdullah revealed, adding that his company has made good profits since he launched the brand in Riyadh in 2019.

“It is fantastic to see how the landscape changes and how people become more open to create and invest in any industry that interests them,” he added.

Another hopeful development that is creating a conducive business climate is the Kingdom state of affairs. According to the GEM report, the Kingdom also outperforms 43 nations in entrepreneurship, business prospects, business reaction to the COVID-19 epidemic, and government response to the pandemic.

Putting the pedal to the metal

There are a burgeoning number of business accelerators that spot talent and launch them to the next level. One such company is Jeddah-based Blossom, which runs intensive programs for early-stage companies.

“We help startups understand how to get early traction and understand who their early adopters are and how to attract investors,” said Emon Shakoor, founder of Blossom, a leading Saudi Arabian business accelerator that runs three-month intensive programs similar to MBAs.

In recent years, Blossom has advised nearly 400 companies, 49 of which received early-stage investments. The companies have raised close to $9 million in early-stage investments.

Shakoor saw that empowering women was her motive in pushing this career forward. “Not enough women-led tech companies are known,” she said, explaining that there is an opportunity gap where more companies run by men get more investment.

Emon further stated that Blossom is Saudi Arabia’s first female-focused accelerator operating under an “umbrella of inclusion.”

All of these developments have surely placed the region in a commanding position to drive the next wave of entrepreneurship in the next non-oil economic era.

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