The Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) seeks to benefit from Saudi Arabia as a platform to reboot, rethink, and regenerate the entrepreneurship system at the international level.
Speakers at the conference reiterated that economic strength depends on the sector's development to return to the economies of countries positively.
The conference witnessed the signing of 33 agreements and the launch of several investment initiatives worth over $4.2 billion, supporting entrepreneurship in various fields and boosting the Kingdom’s status as an attractive environment for pioneers, innovators and creators in the Middle East and North Africa.
Saudi Aramco signed ten memoranda of cooperation and two agreements with local and international companies in digital transformation, information technology, and national development.
The Social Development Bank signed agreements with several entities, including the Royal Commission in Yanbu and the National Entrepreneurship Institute (Riyadah), and announced the launch of several initiatives to support Empowering entrepreneurs valued at around $3 billion.
The Saudi Venture Investment Company (SVC) signed agreements with several investment funds of more than $656 million.
SABIC launched the “Nusaned Fund 2" with al-Ahly Capital Holding worth $200 million to support startup companies and develop the industrial sector.
Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah al-Swaha stressed that Saudi Arabia boasts several innovative companies and institutions led by the ministry that contribute in the growth of the entrepreneur sector.
Speaking at a panel discussion at GEC, Swaha noted that the Riyadh Green Initiative realizes its work and set goals, indicating that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is one of the leading entrepreneurs, with his many projects in Saudi Arabia.
He added that the ministry supports and provides advice to entrepreneurs, all of whom “work for meaning and purpose, rather than money.”
Swaha continued that entrepreneurship is an essential part of the skills for success and is needed to reap the benefits of the 21st Century.
The minister said the Saudi government supports all procedures that help develop technology and benefit significantly from it, searching for innovation and creating different and advanced technologies that benefit all technological and economic aspects.
Egyptian businessman Samih Sawiris announced he intends to invest in the Saudi market during the coming period, stressing that work will be done to translate the project on the ground whenever appropriate opportunities are found.
During one of the dialogue sessions, Sawiris stated that the very encouraging thing in the business world is the low cost of becoming an entrepreneur.
“The world of business has now shaped in such a way that it is very easy and cheap to become an entrepreneur.”
Meanwhile, the speakers discussed topics aimed at helping entrepreneurs expand their businesses worldwide, providing them with the necessary skills to face crises, enhance flexibility, and reach the desired goals to support countries' economies.
The participants stressed the importance of establishing a unified global entrepreneurship system, helping sustain and expand the business, and acquiring the new global trends for pioneering work after the pandemic.
They also noted the need to reboot, rethink, and regenerate the entire system to achieve the goals set for the sector in the future.
The Social Development Bank (SDB) announced the allocation of $2.9 billion to finance entrepreneurs in the Kingdom in the next three years, as part of the Bank’s efforts in empowering Saudi youth and promoting comprehensive national development.
SDB CEO Ibrahim al-Rashid stated at the event that business financing programs in the past period exceeded $2.6 billion, noting that this support contributed to creating more than 100,000 jobs so far.
Rashid indicated that the Bank would allocate, during the coming period, several financing, training, and sponsorship programs to support entrepreneurs in establishing and developing their projects. The aim is to finance more than 68,000 startups and small businesses in the next three years.
On the sidelines of the conference, the SDB signed several agreements with various strategic bodies aiming to provide training, rehabilitation, and sponsorship services to male and female entrepreneurs.
It was also keen to initiate effective communication with the guests and visitors of the conference and introduce its services and financial and non-financial programs to them through the Bank’s pavilion in the exhibition accompanying the conference.
Furthermore, the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) and the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (Monsha'at) signed a cooperation agreement to support small and medium industrial enterprises in the Kingdom through their programs (Afaq and Tomooh).
The agreement seeks to enable SIDF's current and new small and medium enterprises to benefit from the services and programs provided by Monsha'at.
Cars24, an automotive e-commerce platform, Lenskart, the largest Asian optical eyewear retail chain, and Kitopi, a cloud-kitchen platform, signed memorandums of understanding (MoU) with Monsha’at to support entrepreneurs in specialized fields.
Monsha'at also signed an MoU with the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence to launch the "Ruwad" initiative.
The Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology signed another MoU with Monasha'at to cooperate in the fields of data, artificial intelligence, and boost cooperation in various initiatives for entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises.
Moreover, an agreement was signed with Aljabr Finance Company to finance products for entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises, valued at $5.33 million.
The conference witnessed broad international participation through the launch of several investments.
Watheeq Financial Services closed an investment in Spiders Mobility for the pre-launch stage, at a value of $1.4 million, Courier Solutions for Logistics Services closed an investment round of $4.5 million, and PayPal received an investment of $1.6 million.
Merak Capital, an investment firm focused on technology, closed the seed round, led by Merak Capital, with the participation of MERCED, and an investor with a value of $1.3 million.
Antella closed an investment led by HALA Ventures in Egypt with $1 million. HALA Ventures also achieved an investment in Daily Mills, with the participation of Sidra Venture and Vida Holding, with a value of $5.3 million.
Vision Fund closed an investment in Krusty Company with a value of $2 million, at a pre-seed stage, with the participation of Access bridge Ventures and 500 Startups, with a value of $400,000.
The agreement stipulates for Monsha’at to add programs for the Industrial Fund within Tomooh, in line with the program's terms that target rapidly growing small and medium enterprises with added value to the national economy.
It aims to enhance growth and development by linking service providers and support agencies from the public and private sectors.