One of the core issues Kuwait is facing at the moment is the need to find more private sector jobs and add more economic alternatives, rather than solely relying on oil.
This is the reason why the National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprise Development was established in 2013 to support and empower SMEs and push for more job creation.
But to effectively leverage the fund’s support, it will be necessary to develop a thriving startup ecosystem, a supportive culture that inspires, empowers and connects Kuwait’s entrepreneurs to collaborate and work towards common and unique goals. However, more than 80 percent of Kuwait’s population works in the country's public sector.
Building this culture means having role models to look up to. It means celebrating the country’s heroes and establishing a place where all stakeholders can interact and collaborate altogether.
To do so, the Fund established Nuwait, which officially launched on October 21st.
Nuwait, which means ‘to intend’ in Arabic, reflects Kuwait’s intention and willingness to take action and launch an idea. It is a storytelling platform that puts Kuwaiti entrepreneurs under the spotlight, shares their success stories, the lessons they’ve learned, as well as their failures. The goal is to encourage others to take risks.
“Entrepreneurship is in our genes. Trade and commerce are a big part of our culture,” said Hasan Zainal, managing partner at Arzan VC.
Nuwait’s overarching purpose is to build a community where mentors, entrepreneurs, experts and other stakeholders work together to catalyze and empower Kuwait’s startup environment.
“Entrepreneurs have no avenue to interact,” said one entrepreneur in a Wamda Research Lab study on Kuwait’s ecosystem.
To achieve this goal, Nuwait will organize several Mix N’ Mentor events, where entrepreneurs will be matched with mentors in small groups to discuss challenges they face every day, such as team building, fundraising, and business development.
“If we rest today, our future will be tiresome,” said Rakan Al-Fadalah, founder of Chocolateness, a startup that generated $3 million dollars in three years. “However, if we work hard today on our projects and ideas, and achieve them, our future will be prosperous.”
Nuwait’s bilingual platform will have comprehensive and diverse content, all designed to illuminate Kuwait’s startup ecosystem. It will include entrepreneur profiles, video interviews, tips and advice, Q&As, sector overviews and event coverage. Nuwait will also have an entrepreneurship events and activities calendar.
In parallel with the fund’s focus, Nuwait will cover the ICT sector, creative arts, manufacturing and general services industries.
“We had to focus on certain industries. An obvious one was information technology,” explained Mohammad Al-Zuhair, the Executive Chairman of the Fund, in an interview on Nuwait. “We have a lot of people in fashion, we have a lot of people in architecture and internal design [...] and TV production. We need to support them and bring back those industries to be focused in Kuwait.”
“Now we are with you, but you have to lead the way,” Al-Zuhair concluded.
The launch of Nuwait means start of a new era of SME support and entrepreneurship celebration. And this is just the beginning. We hope this will inspire others to take the leap and venture on their own.
Do you have a story to tell? Share it with us. We want to hear it! The whole world wants to hear it!