شاركت كمتحدث عن بعد، في مؤتمر المعرفة الريادية Entrepreneur Knowledge Conference، EKC2015. والذي عقد في مدينة دمشق، في المعهد العالي لإدارة الأعمال،حيث شاركت في اليوم الأول ضمن محور “EcoSystems Local & Regional change”.
شاب المؤتمر بعض المصاعب التقنية، والتي جعلت من الصعوبة بمكان إيصال جميع الأفكار التي رغبت بإيصالها، ولكنها كانت تجربة جميلة المشاركة في هذا المؤتمر، والتواصل مع المنظمين الرائعين.
أضع فيما يلي النص الكامل بالإنكليزية لمداخلتي في المؤتمر.
What are the regional trends for entrepreneurship, and the role of AFKAR+ Business Accelerator
I think that there are three up-and-coming trends for Entrepreneurs generally, and specially in the Middle East. These Trends are MOOCs, Crowdfunding, and freelancing.
The First trend is Self-Directed Learning, which is a new trend in education, we can say “unschooling” or “education hacking”. I mean Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and subscription-based services like EdX, Coursera, Udacity, Lynda, etc.
So, MOOCs are becoming popular worldwide and will be popular soon in the region, because it provides an access to quality education. In the Middle East, to be honest, low-quality training courses are very popular unfortunately, and many attendees just want certificates. MOOCs fill the gap for who need high quality courses, it provides high quality courses from professionals, professors, and institutions around the world. MOOCs are spreading now also in the MENA, There are many platforms like, Rwaq from KSA, Edraak. Which has a partnership with EdX and will offer EdX courses in Arabic. Also we are at Afkar plan to lunch our online e-learning platform.
The second trend is Crowdfunding, there is a rise of crowd funding platforms, I can count at least 8 crowd funding platforms in the Arab world, such as Eureeca, Yomken, and Zoomaal. On the other hand, many use international crowd funding platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Fundly. There are a huge number of Syrians outside Syria and they have credit cards, and want to play a positive rule, and support the youth. Now, there is a use of crowd funding in Relief, and donations projects, for example, Jusoor collect using Fundly more than $10000 USD to support students from Syria who is studying at USA. Macdoos project received more than $8000 USD via kikstarter. In Relief projects, there is outstanding projects such as, “The White Helmets” which collect more than $100000 USD, and “Syrian Dental Relief” which collect more than $500000 USD.
The third trend is Freelance websites, you can achieve your tasks rapidly, and cheaply. There is now many freelancing websites in the Arab world, such as Khamsat, Mostaql. The freelancing trend is spreading and offer low cost, high quality servies in the MENA, for example you can hire high qualified persons form Gaza, or Sudan, or Syria. On the other hand, There are also now a lot of Arabs who are available in international freelance platforms.
So, According to theses trends, I with Samer AlAswad, founded Afkar+ accelerator. Afkar+ was founded in late 2014 as a platform to enable Syrian and other Arab entrepreneurs to translate their creative ideas into successful start-ups. Afkar+ Accelerator is mainly interested in assisting fresh, young graduates improve their skills and in providing entrepreneurs with what they need to accelerate their start-up companies and start their own businesses.
Afkar+ Accelerator’s principles consist of:
• Funding and networking
Afkar+ Accelerator’s Services
Knowledge content is an important foundation for building an entrepreneurship society and providing entrepreneurs with the latest up-to-date scientific, technical, and entrepreneurial news from around the world. We offer summaries of the most important best-selling books, entrepreneurial magazines, global techniques, and booklets needed in this field. In addition, we will highlight success stories in the Arab world.
Mentoring and Training
Afkar+ Accelerator offers mentoring, training, and knowledge to help entrepreneurs and those with creative ideas release their imagination. We offer both on-site and online training.
We provide technical and administrative tools to support entrepreneurs’ businesses and enable them focus on creative work. We have launched a platform providing electronic support for sales and services and the necessary software for project management, accounting, presentations, design, and other services.
Networking and Funding
Afkar+ Accelerator’s goal is to connect entrepreneurs with whom we have worked on their ideas with potential investors and funders and to facilitate networking with mentors and experts who provide opinions and advice. In addition, Afkar+ Accelerator is preparing to build an investment arm to invest in distinctive, creative ideas.