Shifting gears in Jordan.. Let’s talk entrepreneurship!

Global Entreprenuership Week Jordan

Going to the opening of the Global Entrepreneurship Week tonight was like going to group therapy. My partner Razan and I had just had an “afternoon from hell” dealing with extremely lame financial reporting issues at the office. It’s the stuff that makes one curse the day he or she decided to be entrepreneurial and start a company.

In that mood we left the office and headed over to Le Royal Hotel, and found hundreds of people in front of the ballroom. Very interesting. This was not an event promoted with big ads or Royal Patronage, yet the crowd was big. I am happy to report that the ratio of suits vs jeans/casual was pretty reasonable. Yes, there were the “usual IT suspects” (myself included :-) but also a healthy dose of younger faces.

The therapy at the GEW Jordan came in the form of an amazing lineup of of speakers. There were zero boring government officials. There was no mindless “invest in Jordan” talk. Just a series of great speakers.

We should consider ourselves lucky in Jordan to have such events. We get some inspiring international speakers like Creative Common’s CEO Joi Ito, LinkedIn’s founder Reid Hoffman, Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker. Then you get Arab tech entrepreneurs like Sami Shalabi (who sold his startup Zingku to Google) and Habib Haddad (founder of Yamli). Not to forget the local Jordanian entrepreneurs. There were the very truthful observations of Ketab’s Khaled Kalaldeh, the amazing energy of consultant-turned-social-entrepreneur Maher Qaddoura (founder of the Hikmat Road Safety initiative) and the impressive story of Dr Amjad Aryan (founder of the fast growing Pharmacy1 chain in Jordan) and many others..

In the early 2000’s the dominant business event was the Jordan ICT Forum. Jordan also attracted the World Economic Forum. But this new wave of entrepreneurial talk is different. It’s no longer giant corporations doing the talking (think of Intel, Cisco and Microsoft). All talk is about open source, collaboration, innovation and creating something out of nothing. Real startup people sharing their stories. Very cool.

The organizations who put together this opening night and the rest of the week’s events really deserve to be applauded for this spirit. Endeavor Jordan, The Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship, Creative Commons an the Young Entrepreneurs Association are delivering a much-needed event to keep the ball of entrepreneurship in Jordan rolling. Thanks for the therapy!

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8 Responses to “Shifting gears in Jordan.. Let’s talk entrepreneurship!”

  1. Mufasa Says:

    Curious – whats the objective of a “Real” Start up? Wouldn’t it be to emulate what the “giant corporations” have achieved and be successful? Kinda goes against the entrepreneurial spirit of this event when the original “Real” start ups are mentioned in a somewhat negative way as if their success is wrong…also interesting that you didn’t include Apple amongst them…after all, it was Apple and Microsoft who can claim to be the first in the personal computer market to have “collaborated”, innovated and created something out of nothing which has facilitated the way for so many of today’s tech start ups.

  2. Super devoika Says:

    But why we only hear about these stuff after they are done and finished… where is the publicity of such an event? =/

  3. Ashraf Z Says:

    Are you sure you didn’t miss the “usual Gov bureaucrat”..! his contribution would have been very valuable especially about the great role the Gov in supporting entrepreneurs in Jordan ….

  4. mohammed Says:

    hello there,

    I am very happy to come across your blog, organising this whole thing was not an easy thing to do and it makes a bid difference to see that people actually enjoyed this!

    mufasa, to answer your question, the objective behind start ups is obviously to make money for the owner or bring him personal achievement and success (from his side) how ever, with this happening, jobs are created, taxes are paid, other companies are making money so its basically helping the economy as a whole and pouring a lot of money in to the country.
    its very remarkable that all those companies have started as small start ups that had very little or no investments. but most of them now employ hundreds if not thousands of people.
    as for startups, they would have to be innovative or provide something different in order to thrive rather than coping the big companies, because that gets them no where.

    I hope that next time we get to bring people from Apple and microsoft, by all means necessary we would love to , but those are the only people we managed to bring for this time so maybe next year.

    the event had several publications on several radio channels, news papers and magazines, Facebook e-mail shots and posters.
    please suggest new ways so we can reach you earlier next time.

    as for next year , or similar events you can check out which is the main organiser and enlist your e-mail so you can get frequent news about events trainings and meetings (free of course)

    thanks for the blog and have a good one.

    Queen Rania Centre for Entrepreneurship

  5. mohammed Says:

    one more thing,

    for people who attended, what do you think about the voting thing?

  6. What were we doing? | Ideation Blog Says:

    [...] We were really glad to get the great feedback on the work and the theme we have done for the GEW especially the venue and the stage: The GEW Stage The GEW Stage From the GEW - By Ahmad Humeid [...]

  7. Wa7ad Ammani Says:

    The audience here is the same audience you will find in any west Ammani event full of hot air. The same stories recycled under different banners. Amman is impotent when it comes to progress and change. The circle of creativity is limited to the same handful of people. Same interviews, different English speaking magazines and websites. Same same same. Amman is fake, boring, transient, superficial, repressed, chaotic, rude. It’s NY without Broadway, NYU, and Wall Street. Just the rudeness, the violence, and the indifference.

  8. ArabNet 2010, Day 1: the Arab web industry emerges - 360east | design, media, technology Says:

    [...] Of course I am still puzzled about why we need the aforementioned official opening ceremonies in the region. Maybe government still needs to feel in control or maybe we just want to hang on to the last appearances of conservatism. I don’t know. One thing I know is that the Global Entrepreneurship Week held in Jordan last year was actually devoid of Official BS and full of great content. So at least in Jordan we’re breaking out of the mold. [...]

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