Entrepreneurship is the key to competitiveness, and it’s something every nation needs to think about. So it is entirely fitting that the Global Competitiveness Forum in Saudi Arabia is placing it at the center of its conference this year.
Bringing together a diverse range of high profile speakers from across the world, the three-day event will address the big issues that governments and businesses are facing. At the heart of it all, during this period of economic fragility, is job creation. We believe that the entrepreneurial spirit will be a part of this in the future.
The GCF is held in Riyadh and was created by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority in 2006 (HM King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz is its patron). It is an annual meeting of business leaders, politicians, intellectuals and journalists that aims to nurture dialogue on issues relating to local, regional and global economic and social development – currently the only event of its kind.
For many reasons, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a particularly apposite venue for this conversation. It is a leading country amongst Arab nations, and the largest country in the Gulf. Over the past five years it has shot up the global ladder, jumping from 67th place to 11th place in the World Bank/International Monetary Fund’s (WB/IMF) “Ease of Doing Business Report.”
In this context it’s no surprise that levels of foreign investment have improved. A UN report on Trade and Development noted last year that Saudi Arabia receives some of the highest amounts of foreign investment in the world. Recently, FDI has increased by 831%, from $20.5 billion in 2004 to $170 billion in 2010, and now comprises nearly 40 percent of the country’s GDP. Such figures are pertinent – and impressive – in today’s floundering global economy.
Over the past three days, some truly creative questions have been asked at the GCF. Dr Joseph Adelegan, president of the Green Globe Trust wondered: “Is a successful business only one that makes a profit?” And the founder and CEO of MotoCzysz explained why environmentally friendly products take longer to get to a market: there is, Michael Czysz said, a “reluctance to change the order of things and economies of scale, and time”.
Czysz had some good advice for firms that want to be nimble. “The people who can make the greatest shifts in behavior and be most innovative are in small companies.”
So how can entrepreneurs help the world emerge from its economic turmoil? We recognize that education is a vital part of the process, and that’s why Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Education, HH Prince Faisal bin Abdullah, will give the GCF’s keynote speech.
With all of this in mind, we think the discussion is a worthwhile one, and we hope it will continue long after the GCF is over – online and in person.