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The MENA Needs To Empower Its Young Entrepreneurs To Create Sustainable Economies It's the talent of tomorrow who will lead. Two-thirds of the Gen Z population have already started or are planning to start their own business.

By Taarek Hinedi

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

FedEx Express

Today's young entrepreneurs have the potential to dramatically change lives and bring forth innovative solutions to everyday challenges. The agility and flexibility that small businesses possess helps them address customer pain points at a faster pace. These characteristics have also supported entrepreneurs to translate their unwavering efforts into inspiring success stories.

However, for any entrepreneur, starting a new business may seem daunting- perhaps more so in a world that features a lot of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) today. But we know one simple truth: throughout history, times of turmoil have inevitably been the catalyst for positive change. An entrepreneurial mindset sees solutions, not problems, and it recognizes that challenges are a platform for innovation.

And we know something else: it's the talent of tomorrow who will lead. Two-thirds of the Gen Z population have already started or are planning to start their own business. That's an immense generational shift that simply hasn't been seen before. Entrepreneurship, then, is the future.

In the MENA region, there's a vast and diverse talent pool to draw from. Youth constitute more than half (55%) of the population across the region with some of the world's most successful startup ecosystems. The UAE is a leader, with over 250 startups raising 60% of MENA venture capital funding totaling US$5.4 billion. More than 45 startups worth at least $1 billion are expected to emerge in the MENA region by 2030. A growing talent pool, technology infrastructure, and consumer adoption, as well as broad macroeconomic and regulatory reforms, are driving the acceleration of the startup ecosystem, all of which cater to the region's growing technology-driven population.

Image courtesy FedEx Express

Global trade remains an essential part of how we future-proof and rebound into 2023 and beyond. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urgently called for new collaborative solutions that reduce trade policy uncertainty, and for the removal of damaging trade restrictions to boost productivity and improve people's living standards. It also warns that economic reforms must tackle more than rising inflation and address long-term issues such as climate change and the transition to green energy, investments in human capital, and digital transformation.

Tomorrow's entrepreneurs want the same things. At FedEx, we recently concluded the FedEx Global Possibilities Award with INJAZ Al-Arab, a Junior Achievement Worldwide Company Program member. It's a student competition to find and champion some of the region's youngest entrepreneurs. As the contest unfolded this year, we saw first-hand how today's young people want to create new business models that positively shape the future. Many are advancing in social impact or purpose-driven entrepreneurship, and founding businesses that promote social good.

The next generation of business leaders are true changemakers. They have the power to ensure a sustainable future and build strong, equitable economies that benefit communities everywhere. These, we can agree, are global headwinds we can all get behind. And one thing's for sure: for our youngest entrepreneurs to soar, we need to encourage them every step of the way.

Related: Future Forward: Abu Dhabi's and Hub71's Roles in Driving Sustainability and Cleantech In The UAE And Beyond

Taarek Hinedi

Vice President of Middle East and Africa Operations at FedEx Express

Taarek Hinedi is the Vice President of Middle East and Africa Operations at FedEx Express.

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