US and Qatar: Working together to support entrepreneurs

 21 Nov 2012 - 6:09

by Susan L Ziadeh

To mark Global Entrepreneurship Week this month, millions of people in 195 countries participated in more than 30,000 events worldwide to celebrate the power of individuals with ideas to drive economic growth.  Here in Qatar, the US Embassy celebrated Global Entrepreneurship Week with Qatar University (QU), where our Embassy staff joined with QU faculty and other experts to share insight and expertise with young QU business students.  Events like these connect young people to their peers around the world and help them explore their potential as the next generation of business leaders. 

Encouraging entrepreneurship is an increasingly important plank of US foreign policy, based upon our conviction that entrepreneurs drive progress toward global prosperity and security.  As Secretary of State Clinton said in a video address to encourage young entrepreneurs around the globe: “We can’t afford to leave out anyone who has an idea, a dream, an invention or innovation, and the desire to work hard to make that a reality.”  

The State of Qatar is also committed to fostering entrepreneurship, a commitment reflected in the 2030 Qatar National Vision and the drive toward a knowledge-based, diversified, and innovative economy.  Qatar has taken significant steps to streamline the process of starting a new business.  The World Bank’s “Doing Business 2012” study shows that since 2011, Qatar rose 32 places in the “Getting Credit” ranking and eight places in standings for the ease of “Starting a Business.”  Innovative programmes at Qatar Development Bank, Enterprise Qatar and other Qatari institutions have dramatically increased access to capital for small- and medium-sized enterprises. 

Recognising our shared interest in promoting entrepreneurship, Qatari and US institutions have forged important partnerships to provide mentorship and training.

For example, the Qatar Science and Technology Park has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar to create the Executive Entrepreneurship Certificate Program, which aims to be an incubator for a new generation of innovative Qatari executives and managers.  Just this month, the Youth Company and the US-Qatar Business Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote youth social enterprise in Qatar.  And Injaz Qatar, celebrating five years in Qatar, has worked with the US Department of State’s Middle Eastern Partnership Initiative and a host of US businesses to teach over 8,000 students, aged 12-24, entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy skills.

US-Qatari partnerships in entrepreneurship also extend across borders. By choosing to study in the United States, young Qataris can experience first-hand how entrepreneurship is a cornerstone of educating future business leaders.  With over 4,000 accredited colleges and universities and $55bn per year invested in research, US educational institutions are incubators for global entrepreneurs and new innovations that change our world.  The number of Qataris studying in the US has more than tripled over the last five years, and we are pleased to welcome more promising students each year.

Qatar’s drive toward fostering entrepreneurship promises to advance the Qatar National Vision 2030 goal of a diversified, dynamic economy.  A recent joint report by the United States-based Gallup, Inc and the Qatar-based Silatech found that one in three Qataris between the ages of 15 and 29 plans to start a business within the next year.  As this new generation of entrepreneurial Qataris rises, they will transform their country into a regional hub for dynamic new businesses.  The United States will continue to be a strong and committed partner to the State of Qatar and its innovative entrepreneurs to realise this exciting vision. 

The author is the US Ambassador to Qatar.

The Peninsula