Let’s promote Saudi entrepreneurs
By: Mazen Baleelah
The Ministry of Labor is busy finding jobs for Saudi, especially for those who are on the list of Hafiz (unemployment allowance) beneficiaries. Universities and vocational educational institutions are busy graduating Saudi youth in those disciplines required by the employment market. But is there anyone concerned about promoting entrepreneurs or owners of family businesses?
Family firms represent the lion’s share of businesses worldwide. These businesses play a major role in the economic growth of most countries. In European Union countries, 70-90 percent of all companies are family owned, and these companies contribute nearly 70 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP). In the United States, there are 20 million registered family-owned companies, which account for 49 percent of the GDP. About 59 percent of the total US workforce belongs to this vital sector, which creates 78 percent of all new job opportunities. As far as Saudi Arabia and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are concerned, 95 percent of companies here are family owned.
According to a report in Entrepreneur magazine, there are certain differences that act as a virtual dividing line between ordinary shopkeepers and those professional and self-made people who have the desire to become entrepreneurs. Some of these entrepreneurs manage to build giant companies. They are not investors who set up projects in their local neighborhood and city in order to satisfy local residents. Rather, they think about greater things, set their goals and strive to realize their dreams, irrespective of the cost and the risk involved.
Small investors usually set up businesses which employ a limited number of workers, mostly expatriates. But entrepreneurs are leaders who acquire expertise through their experience and focus on building an integrated administrative system and developing a second generation of leaders to carry out their businesses after they are gone.
We have to pay more attention to this segment of society. They should be given priority when financial assistance and loans are granted by the Saudi Credit and Savings Bank or the Centennial Fund. There should be criteria to give these entrepreneurs priority over those people who are simply eager to increase their income. Special attention and preference should be given to those people who have innovative ideas and visions.