JEDDAH – Since its founding in the Kingdom in 2007, Injaz Saudi Arabia aspires to instill leadership and reinforce self-employment among Saudi youth. It is a non-profit organization which delivers educational programs on financial literacy, entrepreneurship and work readiness to Saudi youth between 11 and 18 years who will be the entrepreneurs, leaders and employees of the future.
This initiative aims at providing practical and leading programs to around 100,000 female and male students in the major cities of the Kingdom by 2018 - in collaboration with the business community, the Ministry of Education and the private sector - Nael Samir Faez, CEO of Injaz Arabia, told Saudi Gazette in an exclusive interview.
Excerpts of the interview follow:
Q: Could you give a brief of the mission and objectives of your program?
A: Our mission is to motivate the Saudi youth to be successful business owners and become international entrepreneurs by establishing the scientific vision of economic rules and principles. The company’s program is part of Injaz’s scheme which helps male and female secondary students in the Kingdom to understand the role of business in their community and giving them the required assistance, and directing the volunteers toward the local business community. We also provide the volunteers with the core economic concepts and fundamentals by organizing and operating some business and commercial projects. In our program, the student does not only receive instruction or learn only about the concepts , he also acquires the spirit of cooperation between team members, aside from learning how to distribute the tasks and estimate the scope of responsibility among members.
Q: How do you run such a program? In what form?
A: This program depends on the practical training of the participating students. In this program, we try to guide the students how to set up their own private companies – by teaching them how to generate capital through selling their shares. After that, they choose their preferred commodity company by distributing the profits among the shareholders.
Q: How many functions does the program contain? Do these functions target the secondary school students only?
A: We have around different 13 annual functions ranging from competitions, class activities and other practical trainings. We have organized a big competition for secondary school students earlier this year called “Fikra 2011” (Concept). Some 250 volunteers from different private and government sectors took part in this competition which was designed for students who want to make their own business. The first prize went to winners from 27 secondary schools - girls’ school - who have established a brand name called “Catalyst”. This brand name comprises a sea bag or club bag suitable for picnics and it can be smartly transformed into a towel and other needed amenities for sea excursions or gym session. Moreover most of the items of this bag are made of ecological materials.
The program now covers around 14,000 female and male students in schools and universities as well. The next Fikra competition will be allocated to university students.
Q: Do you think this kind of support should only be shouldered by the private sector? What do the governmental organizations like the Ministry of Education or Ministry of Higher Education do to support this initiative?
A: This very program was initially established in the US in 1919 by a non-profitable educational organization called Junior Achievement Worldwide which has been providing training platforms for students to launch businesses. Around 11 million beneficiaries have benefited from this program.
In many countries, such initiative was initiated first by private bodies and then the government support comes next after this program spread and became firmer. As Injaz Saudi Arabia has been here for around four years now, I think we expect more support from the governmental institutions. In Fikra 2001, we have received good backing from the Ministry of Education. However, the role of the government in such program can be more rewarding and more effective if the government sector adopt this initiative and support it in all educational levels.
Injaz Arabia started in Jordan in 2004 and has grown to include 14 different Arab states like Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Tunisia, Yemen, UAE, Algeria in addition to Saudi Arabia.