The Mohammed bin Salman Foundation (Misk Foundation) is targeting 300,000 entrepreneurs for support in developing their startups in 2020 as part of the Misk Global Forum (MGF), Executive Manager of the Forum Shaima Hamidaddin said.
The Misk Foundation, which was established by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2011, developed 100,000 startups from 185 countries through its global forum in 2019.
“We believe we can, and with that comes a lot of opportunities for investment,” Hamidaddin explained on the sidelines of the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“In 2019 we've been able to give [our entrepreneurs] access to about $10 million worth of investment opportunities which is amazing,” she added.
The MGF is the Misk Foundation’s flagship platform and is currently in its fifth year. The forum “focuses on bringing to light the changes that are happening in the economy and how we can prepare young people,” Hamidaddin said.
Startups can compete in the MGF’s Entrepreneurship World Cup, which focuses on providing an educational curriculum and is designed to help accelerate a startup to the next stage of development, said Hamiddadin.
When asked for what advice she could give budding entrepreneurs looking for success, she said, “I would say stay focused and keep an open mind, because opportunities are there up for anybody to grow. It's just a matter of wanting it bad enough.”
The Foundation’s focus on young people and entrepreneurship should come as little surprise given the emphasis the Kingdom has placed on developing these sectors.
Since Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman introduced the ambitious reform plan known as Vision 2030 in 2016, the Kingdom has made strides towards diversifying its economy and reducing its dependence on oil revenues.
Saudi Arabia jumped 30 spots in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2020 index in October – the biggest improvement and highest jump worldwide.
“We love what's happening in Saudi Arabia and we love what's happening with youth globally, there's a trend where youth are now being more of a focus … we want to see where these opportunities are and capitalize and leverage on them,” Hamiddadin added.