By Injaz Media Team
After winning the 2012 best company award in last year’s Pan-Arab competition held in Doha, Qatar, two Yemeni students teams participated in the 2013 Injaz competition held in Kuwait city from 2 to 4 December.
The INJAZ Al-Arab Young Arab Entrepreneurs Competition was launched in 2007 and is attended yearly by national competition winners from countries across the region. The competition pits students from universities across the Arab world in a variety of categories, including the top overall award, “Best Student Company.” This year’s competition was the culmination of 90 participating students from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen.
Yemen’s teams were made up of a school team which created a student company for wind-based energy, and a university team which created a company producing fertilizers from environmentally safe recycled material.
Yemen’s school team, made up of 14 year-old girls, took the Best Social Impact award among Arab world’s schools, while Yemen’s university team took the top overall award, Best Student Company among Arab universities. Yemen was the only Arab country to win two awards in the same competition.
In 2012, Yemen’s team also won the top award, Best Student Company. With the 2013 win, Yemen has become the only Arab country to win the top award for two consecutive years, 2012 and 2013. In 2010, Yemen won the Best Student Marketing award in the competition held in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Injaz Al Yemen is a member of the Injaz Al Arab network operating in 14 Arab countries and the Junior Achievement Worldwide network operating in 120 countries. The organization, founded in 2009 by Munir Ali Daair and a group of Yemeni business leaders, is dedicated to train future business leaders. The organization is funded mainly by Dome Trading & Contracting Co, The Al Maaz Group, MTN Yemen, Total E&P Yemen, Abu Rejal, Hadda Valley School and Yemen Observer, whose CEO’s make up the board of directors. In 2013 the CEO of Qatar National Bank, Yemen also joined the Injaz Al Yemen’s board.
This year’s competition in Kuwait was judged by Abdulaziz Al-Yaqout, Regional Managing Partner, of DLA Piper Middle East, Dr. Claudio Cortese, Senior Deputy Secretary General, Union for the Mediterranean, Omar Fahoum, Chairman & CEO, Middle East, Deloitte & Touche, Omar El Hamamsy, Senior Associate, Manager Egypt Office, Mckinsey, Jeffrey Johnson, President, Boeing Middle East, Mariam Farag, CSR Program Head, MBC Group, Salma Al-Hajjaj, General Manager, Human Resources, Gulf Bank, and Tarek Elrefai, MENA Head of Global Client Management, Bank of New York Mellon. Student companies were assessed on their ability to demonstrate sound business insight, financial knowledge, marketing support and feasibility studies. In addition, competing students were required to spend one day showcasing their products, presenting to the public, and holding a private question and answer session with the judging panel in order to present their business in its entirety.
During the award ceremony in Kuwait city, Soraya Salti, Injaz Al-Arab Regional Director, said, “This event is a celebration of the 360,000 determined young people from across the region that participated in Injaz programming this year. The participants and winners of the event showcase the collective effort of our volunteers from the private sector, all 9,304 of them, to inspire and to pass on invaluable knowledge. The participants in this competition represent the future entrepreneurs and leaders of the business world. I would like to thank our students for their immense energy and hard work. We are also immensely grateful to His Highness the Amir for his patronage, the Ministry of Youth Affairs for their tremendous support and to Gulf Bank, Zain, FedEx and Alghanim Industries to their commitment to the region’s youth.”
Munir Daair, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Injaz Al Yemen, said the more he becomes involved with Yemeni students the more he is amazed with their capabilities. This in particular despite the limited resources available to Yemeni students when compared to their counterparts in the GCC and other Arab countries participating in these programs. More so, considering the difficulties Yemen has been facing during the past two years of transition, Yemeni students seem to be determined to challenge the odds thrown against them, and they are achieving astounding results. According to Daair, Injaz’ programs have now reached almost 7000 students, despite the 2011 Yemeni revolution and the difficulties that followed which still continue to this day. In 2013, they expanded into the Hadramaut region, where initial results were very encouraging, though there remains a lot of ground to cover.
Majid Al Shumeiri, Injaz Al Yemen’s CEO, expressed the hope that after two years of consecutive top awards and the hard work put into training our students since 2009. He expressed hope that more people and companies will give support so that Injaz can expand and cover a wider area with more students in Yemen. The group’s future plans are very ambitious, he says, “but with the limited resources we have it will be difficult to reach out beyond current levels.” He called upon other private sector players and the Yemeni government to get more engaged with Injaz Al Yemen’s activities.