Via LinkedIn : The young people of the Arab region are a huge motivation and priority for me. I am inspired by their enthusiasm for the world around them, their confidence in their own individuality, and the ideas they come up with. Is it just me or do you find that today’s young people share a naturally entrepreneurial spirit?
This entrepreneurial spirit, especially in young people, is critical in my world. In a country just shy of 44 years old, with a youth population of 65 percent and where more than 60 percent of the nation’s GDP is contributed by SME businesses, entrepreneurism has been at the heart of our nation’s development to date and I believe will be a bloodline of our future, particularly in the region’s media industry.
At twofour54, we devote a lot of time to nurturing young people with strong creative or commercial ideas, as we know our future industry depends on a steady stream of talented people and viable businesses. Our support then extends into the business realm. We support startup businesses through investment, guidance, and facilitation. It is one of my favourite aspects of the job, witnessing a new business being built that will bring something new to the marketplace and has the potential to create jobs.
Having had the opportunity to work with different entrepreneurs and startups in the media and entertainment environment, here are my observations of what drives an entrepreneurial spirit.
1. To seize it, you first need to see it. Meet Spek and Yassine, both young men working in the music industry internationally that increasingly engaged with the UAE market. Spek saw an opportunity in the region’s music industry value chain and knew if he could fill it, more young Arabic artists would be able to forge successful music careers. He brought in Yassine and PopArabia, a music publisher and rights consultancy, was born. The UAE is full of potential like this. We are a young country, we are still building some of the things that more developed countries already have — in this case, a music rights collection company. To seize an opportunity, you first need to see it. And to really see, you need to open your mind as well as your eyes.
2. Collaborate. Setting up in business and being your own boss doesn’t mean going it alone. In fact, often working collaboratively becomes more important when you go out on your own. A number of our media companies here in Abu Dhabi recently joined forces to create Iftah Ya Simsim, an Arabic version of Sesame Street, with incredibly rich custom content specifically for the children of this region. Each company brought a different set of skills to the process, as the final product could not have been achieved by one company alone. This is the beauty of twofour54, it is a cluster of creatively minded companies all working toward the same goal — creating quality content for audiences everywhere. I know that networking and collaboration are the usual suspects when it comes to advice on entrepreneurism but there is a reason for it — they work!
3. You don’t need to be an expert, but you do need energy and determination! No one is born an expert. Everyone has to start somewhere and learn their craft along the way — and this takes energy and it takes commitment. Take the example of Abdullah Al Junaibi, one of our creative lab members. He takes his camera with him everywhere and attends every community event he can, to practise and hone his skills in different environments. Mohamed Yahia, another creative lab member who has a full time job in aviation, used his full annual leave allowance to intern on the film set of various Hollywood productions here in Abu Dhabi because of his passion for filmmaking. Commitment like this will help you to build your skillset and experience. And, much more than this, it will build you a reputation — something that is as critical to employees as it is to entrepreneurs.
There is so much more I could say on this topic, but I’ll finish with a point to ponder for those of us who are already running businesses and working in careers.
Through our creative lab initiative, we support a community of 10,000 people with dedicated creative space, funding for creative projects and access to internships and career opportunities. Our creative lab members go onto achieve great things. For example, Aisha Al Zaabi won Best Film in the Muhr Emirati Competition at last year’s Dubai Film Festival; Rashed Al Nuaimi, who was chosen to sing in a creative lab video celebrating 2013 UAE National Day, is now a prominent Emirati social media star; and it was our creative lab that kicked off the #IloveUAE43 social media campaign to celebrate the 2014 UAE National Day, which went viral and top trended on Twitter in the UAE.
What are you doing to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit in those around you who will be our leaders, influencers, and employers of the future?