Kuwait's Nuqat Is On A Mission To Foster A Collaborative Community To Overcome Social Challenges
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You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.This article is part of a series on pioneering entrepreneurs in Kuwait that Entrepreneur Middle East has built in collaboration with Kuwait Finance House. Kuwait Finance House is considered a pioneer in Islamic finance or Sharia’a compliant banking, with it being the first Islamic bank established in 1977 in the State of Kuwait, and is today one of the foremost Islamic financial institutions in the world.
Conceived in 2009, social enterprise Nuqat was established due to the lack of platforms to help individuals developed their skills and exchange with like-minded professionals. The objective then grew to creating a platform to bring professionals to share insights from their success and failure under themed topics annually including, “Visual Pollution in the Arab World”; “The Copy/Paste Syndrome” and “Powering the Creative Economy.” General Director Wakim Zeidan notes that with the event’s talks and workshops, participants are engaged “in a process of collective inspiration, through provocation and skill development.”
Currently, the organization has three main pillars of offerings. First, is on knowledge exchange, which is delivered through designing and conducting forums, roundtables and research publications. Second, is on capacity building, which is achieved through designing and delivering workshops and programs fofr children and adults. Lastly, through benchmarking, which is executed through developing tools to quantify social impact of a business and identify cultural vibrancy of a city.
Since its launch, Nuqat has been an attraction point that has been attended by more than 6,500 individuals, with its customer base from Kuwait’s locals and residents, in addition to regional participants, mostly from Saudi Arabia. The enterprise aims to create content that is relevant to the audience’s concerns and potential through the event’s theme and by introducing experts and research findings. "We aim to empower all members of Nuqat’s collaborative community to overcome social challenges through creative and critical thinking." Going forward, with cultural development at the core of Nuqat’s mission, Zeidan says their business growth relies on “cultural consultation, such as research, publications and program development, all the while engaging with regional partners to develop forums and capacity building programs for their creative workforce.”
Excerpts from a conversation with General Director Wakim Zeidan:
What are the three main pillars of the profit model of your business? How has that changed over time?
As a social enterprise, the main source of income has been through sponsorships, sale of tickets for workshops and recently, by taking on research contracts and customized development of education programs for private entities. Historically, the reliance has been solely on sponsorships since we were functioning under the mindset of a not-for-profit, yet recently, while keeping a not-for-profit license, we restructured our business model and mindset to be an entity that is in the business of cultural development, hence our offering and services changed accordingly.
What has been the most negative feedback on your business that you have received, and how did you go about it?
Most of the feedback has been around our reach to a mass audience, mostly in non-metropolitan areas that happen to be only exposed to education in Arabic. Our offerings have been labeled as exclusive to a niche audience although that wasn’t the intention. We took measures that developed through time small but impactful changes such as switching our talks language to Arabic and diversifying the profile of our speakers to include those that are more familiar to the mass.
What are some of the main considerations that entrepreneurs should keep when starting up a business in Kuwait and why?
Kuwait is a demanding market to conduct business in particularly when it comes to licensing and financing. Given the small size of the market this has the tendency to impact entrepreneurs in two fronts; a limited business growth and finding and retaining qualified talent.
Lastly, what are some of the opportunities that you see available in the Kuwaiti market today and what would be your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
The Kuwaiti market has quite a sizable pool of aspiring young entrepreneurs looking for the right environment to thrive. There are efforts to create the right environment, yet the obstacles are various and challenging to overcome. So, an entrepreneur should exercise their creative problem-solving skills and embrace a high level of commitment, persistence and patience.