THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC SPHERE: THE RISE OF SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE ARAB REGION

Social Entrepreneurship began to rise when Bill Drayton in the 1960s discovered how a simple idea along with action can cause positive social change. Eventually, he established the nonprofit organization – the Ashoka Foundation which is based on social entrepreneurship (1). In today’s world, social entrepreneurship is becoming increasingly popular in the different parts of the world to accommodate for the lack of job opportunities and to fill the gaps of the new skills acquired by the rising generations where traditional jobs do not offer. However, has social entrepreneurship been successfully introduced in all the communities, especially the Arab World?

According to the latest report by the ODI on youth, 1.2 billion are between the ages of 15 to 25!! The world is experiencing the largest population of youth in the history that is now called as ‘youth bulge’ (2). Due to the aforementioned, lack of employment and skills development has been a phenomena in the societies especially in the Arab World, where the youth make up almost 50% of the populations (3). The youth do not only face lack of skills, however; age is also an obstacle that creates inequality that excludes young women and men from entering the job market and reaching financial resources (2). Therefore, social entrepreneurship can create a bridge between the youth and the corporate world that is facing challenges in employing the storming number of youth. Not only that entrepreneurship can create economic growth and jobs, but it also helps in developing transferable skills that can help the youth later on to have the confidence to face the job market and become stronger future leaders.

There has been a huge focus on fostering social entrepreneurship as a large population of young graduates has little or no employment opportunities (2). The youth in the Arab World are mostly highly educated with tremendous potential and are passionate towards making change, however lack the skills that can help them stand out in the market place (5). Hence, entrepreneurs can take advantage of those who have local knowledge of their local industry and apply it in their social enterprises.

For instance, in Dubai, UAE, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development empowers the youth and young entrepreneurs to establish their own social ventures that can help them find their place in the market by providing them the seed capital and licensing needed to complete the establishment. This allows the change of the notion of depending on the government for employment opportunities and pushes the youth forward to even challenge themselves to go into the global market, eventually.

Also, there are many other several international organizations that can see through the benefits of investing in the young people who are energetic and ready to explore. Organizations such as Ashoka Arab World, Silatech, Synergos, Acumen Fund, Wamda, British Council, help those energetic entrepreneurs in implementing their knowledge into practical revenue – generating projects by funding them with starting capital (6). Hence, they make use of the already available human capital, education and resources that make up as a way to changing the jobs landscape. Savvy young people have capitalized on the spirit of the strong use of social media and their knowledge of technology and started creating and marketing their social ventures through the internet which they have considered cheaper with greater impact.

So, I would like to address the youth of today (aka digital natives) to know that we are the builders of the future and if we don’t find a way now, we are not eligible enough to carry the responsibility of the next generation. “When you do not find a way, make one.” H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid

 

Suzan Shedid, Dubai Campus

 

[1] The Social Entrepreneur Bill Draytonhttp://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/051031/31drayton.htm

[2] Youth and International Policy: the case for investing in young peoplehttp://www.odi.org.uk/sites/odi.org.uk/files/odi-assets/publications-opinion-files/8402.pdf

[3] The Arab World in Transition: Assessing the Economic Impact Report. IIF, 2011

[4] http://socialenterprise.guardian.co.uk/social-enterprise-network/2013/feb/06/social-entrepreneurship-shaping-egypt

[5] http://socialenterprise.guardian.co.uk/en/articles/social-enterprise-network/2012/jul/13/social-enterprise-arab-world

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