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Dalit Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship

There is a need for mass entrepreneurship enabled by widespread mentoring to inspire and guide youth to become job creators…reports Asian Lite News

As per the 2011 census, the literacy rate among Dalits in India currently stands at 66.1 percent, despite progress from 37.2 percent in 1991. The percentage of literate Dalits still lags behind the rest of the country. The Dalit youth struggle to secure meaningful employment opportunities. The challenge lies in the scarcity of jobs, both in government and large private companies. 

To address the issue of unemployment, the country must turn to the Micro, Small, andMedium Enterprise (MSME) sector to engage its youth productively. According to a recent NITI Ayog report, the handicrafts sector alone created 69 lakh jobs with a yearly revenue of Rs. 32,000 crores. Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) play a crucial role in nurturing job creators, yet this needs strengthening. Despite initiatives like the MUDRA Yojana and the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE), challenges persist, particularly for underserved communities.

There is a need for mass entrepreneurship enabled by widespread mentoring to inspire and guide youth to become job creators. According to a recent The Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST), survey, 85 percent of women struggle to secure loans highlighting a pressing concern. BYST has directly supported 15,000 entrepreneurs and 25,000 entrepreneurs indirectly resulting in the creation of over 4 lakh jobs, demonstrating the transformative potential of entrepreneurship.

While unicorns garner headlines, promoting mass entrepreneurship is essential in addressing India’s unemployment situation, especially given its youthful demographic. BYST has facilitated loans worth over Rs. 125 crores for the Dalit community, bridging the gap in access to financial support and enabling aspiring Dalit entrepreneurs to realise their business aspirations. Despite a 15 percent  job quota in government jobs and educational institutions for SC and ST youth, there’s a lack of quotas in the private sector, sparking ongoing debates. To comprehensively address these challenges, there is a need for collaborative efforts among corporate partners and government bodies and civil society organisations.

The Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust is a non-profit organisation dedicated to empowering marginalised youth, is leveraging Dalit History Month to highlight the importance of education, entrepreneurship, mentoring, and development for uplifting the community. Education serves as an important tool for societal transformation, especially among vulnerable groups.

Commemorating Dalit History month, Founding and Managing Trustee of BYST, Lakshmi Venkataraman Venkatesan, said “the Dalit community has a painful history… it is still challenging for them to explore high paying professional jobs and livelihood opportunities. They also encounter barriers such as a lack of access to quality education, mentoring, and opportunities. Discrimination is faced from the bank to the boardroom, access to job and business opportunities should be equitable… Our mission at BYST is to help underprivileged Indian youth become self-reliant entrepreneurs, and in turn create jobs for others. Over the last 32 years through our distinctive ‘guru-shishya parampara’, we have nurtured and supported over 40,000 young entrepreneurs in 16 states who have created jobs for 4 lakh people, a remarkable achievement, given that most of these young
people hail from some of the most difficult environments in our country.”

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Events Technology UAE News

AI Startup Pitches Soar After MBZUAI Entrepreneurship Success

The 12 startup business plans covered a variety of verticals, including AI safety, AI for health, AI for social good, and more.

The inaugural Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) Entrepreneurship Courses concluded with 12 AI-based startup business plans presented at an on-campus event in Masdar City.

22 students gained the entrepreneurial skills, tools, and networks needed to commercialise their AI solutions in the UAE, and three startups were fast-tracked for financial grants from MBZUAI.

Jointly launched by MBZUAI’s Incubation and Entrepreneurship Centre (MIEC) and startAD, the Abu Dhabi-based startup accelerator powered by Tamkeen and anchored at NYU Abu Dhabi, the programme aims to boost the AI startup ecosystem in Abu Dhabi.

The top three AI-assisted technologies and applications are Audiomatic, which provides automatic and emotionally intelligent audio production for video content, including customised scores, sound effects, and narrations; Limb, an application providing accessible physiotherapy information such as exercise correction and pain management features; and Momzo, a complete AI assistant for women’s maternity to motherhood powered by generative AI.

“These are the first AI-focused entrepreneurship courses at the university and in the UAE and come on the eve of an expected AI startup boom led by generative AI,” MBZUAI’s Vice President of Public Affairs and Alumni Relations Sultan Al Hajji said.

He added, “The entrepreneurship courses actively encourage students to take advantage of the favourable entrepreneurial environment in Abu Dhabi and ignite the potential to transform their research and engineering know-how into a business. The startup pitches highlight specific-industry and application-use cases and have the potential to make a significant impact on society with their bold, sophisticated, and innovative concepts.”

Managing Director of startAD Ramesh Jagannathan said, “The MBZUAI IEC programme immersed AI innovators in the exciting world of innovation and entrepreneurship, where they learned to apply business literacy heuristics to their ideas. According to an Accenture Report, AI will add $182 billion in annual gross value to the UAE’s economy by 2035. These startup projects demonstrate high potential and are poised to strengthen the UAE’s knowledge economy.”

The 22 graduates represent more than ten nationalities, with 41% being women. All participants graduated from the intensive five-week entrepreneurship courses, which included eight workshops and three community engagement events covering topics such as idea generation, market discovery, prototyping, and pitching.

The 12 startup business plans covered a variety of verticals, including AI safety, AI for health, AI for social good, and more.

The top three pitches were named by a panel of expert judges, including Jean-Luc Scherer, business incubation expert and advisor at Sandooq Al Watan; Mariam Al Badr, director of outreach at Khalifa Fund; Dr. Ramzi Ben Ouaghrem, director of research development and engagement at MBZUAI; Michael Huang, acting director of strategy and IEQA at MBZUAI; and Selim Tira, investment representative at Shorooq Partners.

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Entrepreneurship Among Arab Youths Gathers Momentum

Entrepreneurial spirit strongest among GCC youth, with majority (58%) saying it is easy to start a business in their country….reports Asian Lite News

The Arab world has a promising opportunity to promote youth entrepreneurship with nearly half of young Arabs saying they plan to start their own business in the next five years. This entrepreneurial zeal also reflects an increased preference to work for the private sector rather than the government.

These are some of the notable findings of the landmark 15th annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, the largest study of its kind of the Arab world’s largest demographic, its over 200 million youth, by ASDA’A BCW, the Middle East and North Africa’s leading communications consultancy.

Youth unemployment in the region is one of the highest in the world at over 26% with nearly one in three youth (32%) aged 15 to 24 not engaged in employment, education or training, according to a World Bank report. The United Nations observed that the region must create 33.3 million jobs by 2030 to absorb the large number of young people entering the workforce, a daunting task that Governments must take forward with urgency. 

ASDA’A BCW commissioned SixthFactor Consulting, a leading research company, to conduct face-to-face interviews with 3,600 Arab citizens aged 18 to 24 in their home nations from March 27 to April 12, 2023. 

The largest sample in the survey’s history covered 53 cities across 18 Arab states, including for the first time South Sudan. The interviews were conducted face to face rather than online to maximise accuracy and to reflect the nuances of Arab youth opinion across the region as much as possible.

Exploring Arab youth attitudes on their future careers, the survey found that 42% of young Arab men and women would like to start their own business in the next five years. This desire was strongest in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states (53%), followed by the Levant (39%) and North Africa (37%). 

GCC youth were also more upbeat about their chances of going into business themselves, with 58% saying that starting a business in their country was ‘very easy/somewhat easy’. This compares with 79% of youth in the Levant and 73% in North Africa who said it was ‘very difficult/somewhat difficult’ to start a business in their country.  

According to the research, tax breaks, reduced fees for startups, enhanced training and education, and government-backed loans would encourage more youth to become entrepreneurs. When it comes to their preferred industry, 15% of the sample said they wanted to start a business in the tech sector, followed by e-commerce (13%), the creative industries (11%), manufacturing (11%), real estate (10%), the food business (9%), and retail, hospitality and education (7% each). 

Private sector jobs

One of the significant trends that the survey has documented over the years is the increasing preference of Arab youth for private sector jobs over a career in government. 

Compared to nearly half of all respondents in 2019 who said that they preferred to work in the government sector, less than a third (30%) feel the same now. Meanwhile, a third (33%) of Arab youth said they would prefer to work in business, a 13% increase from 2022. 

One in four (25%) young Arabs now say they want to work for themselves or their family, a slight decline since last year (28%), but a six-percentage point jump from 2019. Meanwhile, 11% said they preferred to work for a non-profit organisation. 

Sunil John, President, MENA, BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW, said: “The fact that Arab youth are eager to start their own business is an encouraging sign, but it is also a natural response to the great difficulty in certain countries to find stable employment. Policymakers and the business community itself must do more to support those young men and women willing to do it alone.”

“Meanwhile, the increasing diversification of the GCC economies is casting the private sector in a positive new light,” John added. “This is a promising trend for the long-term sustainability of the regional economy and a potential source of jobs and opportunity for Arab youth outside the Arabian Gulf.”

“However, this growing interest in a business career must be matched by companies themselves, with recruitment and career development pathways introduced to empower the region’s rapidly evolving Arab national workforce,” John said. 

In the coming weeks, ASDA’A BCW will publish insights under the three remaining themes covered in the study: My Identity, covering religion and issues of personal identity; My Aspirations, the hopes of young Arabs for the future; and My Lifestyle, highlighting their habits, pastimes, and the media they consume. Findings on climate change, mental health and gender rights will also be disclosed, making this year’s study the most extensive in the survey’s history. The overall theme of the 15th edition of the ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey is ‘Living a New Reality’.

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Arab News Business Saudi Arabia

‘Beban’ expands to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Having aired for two seasons, Beban featured a total of 62 businesses of various sizes and resulted in successful co-investments by the private and public sectors exceeding USD 6 million in GCC-based startups…reports Asian Lite News

Entrepreneurship-themed reality television show ‘Beban’ announces the expansion of its third season to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as Hope Ventures, the investment arm of Hope Fund and producer of Beban, partners with Saudi-based GFH Capital S.A.

Saudi-based businesses can apply for season 3 online through by July 23rd. The expansion comes in line with GFH Capital’s efforts to support Saudi-based businesses in their entrepreneurial journeys and provide them with the tools, resources, and networks needed to grow and scale across the region. Having aired for two seasons, Beban featured a total of 62 businesses of various sizes and resulted in successful co-investments by the private and public sectors exceeding USD 6 million in GCC-based startups.

Through the partnership, GFH Capital will sponsor Saudi businesses’ participation in Beban TV show, which is centered around promising entrepreneurs as they pitch their existing businesses for equity investment and business development opportunities before a panel of regional investors of the private sector who can strategically accelerate the growth and expansion of these businesses to international markets.

Furthermore, Beban entrepreneurs will also benefit from the intensive training bootcamp they will undergo as part of the Beban journey to develop their businesses in various aspects like expansion planning, financial modeling, and pitching in front of a panel of regional investors on a televised show.

Commenting on the partnership, Mr. Razi AlMerbati, CEO of GFH Capital, shared: “Saudi Arabia features one of the most exciting and vibrant startup ecosystems, not just in the region, but globally. We are thrilled to partner with Beban in a move that underlines our commitment to the growth of entrepreneurialism and business development in line with Saudi’s Vision 2030. Through this collaboration, we aim to empower aspiring entrepreneurs to transform their innovative ideas into successful ventures. We are proud to support the cultivation of an ecosystem that fosters innovation, drives economic growth, and nurtures the next generation of business leaders.”

On her part, Fajer Al Pachachi, General Manager at Hope Ventures, said: “We created Beban to act as an investment platform that facilitates a borderless and seamless flow of regional co-investment opportunities alongside the private sector in promising businesses. We are truly excited to be partnering with GFH Capital to expand Beban to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as it aligns with our objective of Beban and because we believe in the caliber and the potential of Saudi businesses. We look forward to welcoming their applications and participation in season 3 of Beban.”

It is noteworthy to mention that entrepreneurs will be selected through an evaluation process comprising five stages, starting with screening businesses for viability based on certain criteria, followed by an evaluation stage led by experts and specialists in the business sector. Candidates will then be nominated to participate in an intensive training bootcamp stage. The final stage will announce the eligible finalists, who will then go on to film the production’s episodes. 

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Startup20 Shikhar Summit : A major win for global entrepreneurship

These continuations of Startup20 with the Brazil presidency were a true success for the group and a milestone in the advancement of the startup ecosystem worldwide…reports Asian Lite News

The Startup20 Shikhar Summit, which was put on by the Startup20 Engagement Group for the India G20 Presidency, came to a successful conclusion on Tuesday in Gurugram, the NITI Aayog said in an official release. This two-day summit served as a platform for fostering innovations, collaborations, knowledge sharing, and strategic alliances within the global startup ecosystem.

During the closing ceremony, the Chair of Startup20, Chintan Vaishnav, officially handed over the torch to Brazil, as the country has G20 presidency for the next year and has committed to continue the Startup20 initiative in 2024. These continuations of Startup20 with the Brazil presidency were a true success for the group and a milestone in the advancement of the startup ecosystem worldwide.

According to the official press release of the NITI Aayog, Saudi Arabia, represented by Prince Fahad Bin Mansoor, became the first nation to endorse and support Startup20’s proposal to allocate an ambitious $1 trillion annually into the startup ecosystem by 2023, underscoring the significance of the initiative. He made this announcement during his address at the Gurugram Shikhar Summit, recognizing the potential of startups in making startups a true force for the global good.

In his address, Chintan hailed this announcement as a momentous occasion at the Startup20 Gurugram Shikhar Summit, underscoring Saudi Arabia’s steadfast dedication to fostering global innovation and entrepreneurship. He asserted, “By pledging support for the USD1 trillion funding milestone, Saudi Arabia sets a precedent for other nations to follow, demonstrating their commitment to driving a disruptive innovation ecosystem and propelling the economic growth, according to the official press release.

He also underscored the importance of specific action points outlined in the Policy Communique while releasing it officially. The key action points in Policy Communique include the creation and adoption of a defined framework for startups, creating a networked institution to support startups and ecosystem stakeholders across G20, increasing and diversifying access to capital, easing market regulations for startups, and prioritizing the inclusion of underrepresented communities within the startup ecosystem as well as the scaling up startups of global interest. “These measures aim to foster a conducive environment that empowers startups to innovate, grow, and address global challenges effectively,” the press release said.

The Startup20 Gurugram Shikhar Summit serves as a critical platform for the startup ecosystem, ecosystem builders, industry experts, Government, policymakers, and thought leaders to collaborate and shape the trajectory of startups on a global scale, the release added.
The Policy Communique sets the direction for G20 countries to scout promising startups intensively, fund them collaboratively, mentor them contextually and scale them globally. (ANI)

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