Soraya Salti, INJAZ Al-Arab Regional Director and Junior Achievement Senior Vice President MENA, speaks at The Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington about catalyzing youth entrepreneurship in the Middle East
At the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship held on April 26-27, 2010, INJAZ Al-Arab Regional Director and Junior Achievement Senior Vice President Middle East & North Africa (MENA), Soraya Salti, revealed the importance of INJAZ programs to resolving the critical social and economic challenges facing Arab youth. On invitation from U.S. President Barack Obama to share the INJAZ equation, Salti traveled to Washington, DC to serve as a key panelist on the ‘Catalysing Youth Entrepreneurship’ session. She joined US Department of Education Secretary Anne Duncan, Owner of PT Resultan Goris Mustaqim, and Dubai School of Government Dean Tarik Yousef to discuss the role of education, training and mentorship in encouraging youth innovation and entrepreneurial exploration. INJAZ Al-Arab presently works with 13 Ministries of Education (Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, UAE, and Yemen), 716 schools, and a network of 10,000 corporate volunteers implementing a series of business and entrepreneurship programs that has empowered over 500,000 young people. The goal is to reach 1 million every year. INJAZ Al-Arab is a non-profit educational initiative working across the MENA region, aimed at inspiring Arab youth to become business leaders. The model turns public school classrooms into real life entrepreneurial ventures.
“In the backdrop is the biggest youth unemployment crisis in the world, happening in a region where 70% of the population is under the age of 25 and where 100 million graduates will be entering the labour market over the next 15 years” said Salti. “Access to the right education, training and mentorship is critical to give Arab youth the skills they need to succeed. We owe this generation immediate action and an entrepreneurship education that can shift the reins of their economic destiny into their own hands.”
Wa’d Taweel, a 20-year-old Palestinian student, INJAZ graduate and winner of the 2007 INJAZ Al-Arab Annual Regional Competition CEO of the Year Award, also spoke to the Summit leaders about her experience with INJAZ Al-Arab and how she will use the skills acquired to start up her own business in the West Bank. At the Summit, she was awarded a full graduate scholarship to Babson College.
“We are very proud of Wa’d. She is testament to the impact INJAZ can have and is having across the MENA region. The Arab world needs young people equipped to be critical thinkers, ready to approach challenges with innovative solutions and INJAZ programs do just that. Our work and dedication toward their ability to successfully compete and thrive can only be done with the help of corporate volunteers and committed business leaders. We are grateful for their support, but we need more help.” This Summit followed a commitment by U.S. President Barack Obama made last year in Cairo to identify ways in which business leaders from the US and worldwide Muslim communities can strengthen ties and accelerate critical, needed social and economic change.
Co-hosted by the Departments of Commerce and State, with attendance by President Obama, various Cabinet Secretaries and senior US Government officials, the 2-day summit brought together over 275 participants from 50 countries with the goal to advance economic and social entrepreneurship. “Being in Washington and having the opportunity to share these experiences with others has been a phenomenal opportunity for INJAZ Al-Arab” Salti continued. “We are reaching out to the world and extending a hand to those who too are reaching out in efforts to empower a new generation of Arab youth that will redefine the Arab world of today and shape the Arab world of tomorrow.”