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Growing The Private Sector In The Post-Carbon Era: Bedaya Center Encourages Qatari Youth To Create Their Own Success "Bedaya designs activities to address the needs of young people aged 18 to 30, wishing to develop their skills and capabilities as entrepreneurs, or their employability and work based skills for a career."

By Erika Widen

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Bedaya Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Development

"In 2011, Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and Silatech established the Bedaya Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Development. "Bedaya designs activities to address the needs of young people aged 18 to 30, wishing to develop their skills and capabilities as entrepreneurs, or their employability and work based skills for a career," says Reem Al-Sowaidi, General Manager of Bedaya Center. Al- Sowaidi says that the center was set up to meet the need to create a confident future for the next generation by offering ei- ther career development advice and support, or alternatively, entrepreneurship guidance and business startup counseling. "As a project worthy of Qatar's National Vision 2030, Bedaya's goals are aligned with its focus on human capital development and diversification– to grow the private sector in the post carbon era," Al-Sowaidi says. "Young people can for the first time choose which direction they wish to take, through choosing a career or starting their own enterprise." In other words, Bedaya assists to develop and support young entrepreneurs to triumph with their business idea. In addition, it supports young people wanting a career to explore and identify a vocation that matches their per- sonality and skillset. "The real value of Bedaya Center lies in helping the youth of Qatar to reach their full potential and succeed in whatever path they choose, so that they can take pride in realizing the country's National Vision," Al-Sowaidi adds.

Al-Sowaidi says that the center provides the youth of today the best of both worlds, which includes access to a comprehensive range of youth services, training programs, seminars, and activities "to help the youth achieve their career goals and develop their job skills for a lifetime of career success, or business training and development to accelerate their entrepreneurial aptitude and ambitions to start a business." In addition, she explains how traditional career services are turned into easy to comprehend (and relevant) guidelines with training, alongside tips to promote career progress, "whilst introducing practical advice on entrepreneurship to present and future generations to encourage Qatari youth to create their own future success."

Image credit: Bedaya Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Development

Bedaya offers the budding entrepreneur access to entrepreneurial training and career development services every month. These services are held during the day, evenings and during the weekends, in order to accommodate the young aspiring entrepreneur's schedule. During that time, Bedaya develops and supports them to succeed in the business environment by evaluating their business idea in order to find their niche market. Subsequently, the center assists them to produce a strategic business plan with market analysis and projections, and also teaches the young would-be entrepreneur how to promote their business using social media branding, marketing channels, and how to pitch their business to find the right funding. Lastly, the center advises on the incubation and growth stages and process.

Simultaneously, the center also works to assist the youth to make informative decisions in reference to their career options, and to choose the best vocation. "Bedaya typically advises young people how to set career goals to match their personality, career interests, ambitions and skills so as to help them choose an appropriate future career," Al-Sowaidi says. "Bedaya also offers the Tamheed online psychometric assessments as
an attested method of evaluating an individual's abilities, traits and interests. These lead to more objective and informed decisions in recruitment, selection, training, development and career choice."

Tamheed is a user-friendly online psychometric assessment that is a tried and tested method of evaluating an individual's abilities, traits and interests. "Candidates simply have to register online and the automated assessment program pinpoints personality traits and career interests in a personalized report," Al-Sowaidi says. "Candidates also receive career advice from a Tamheed advisor." Tamheed utilizes two distinct types of assessments to measure different aspects of each candidate's ability: cognitive, which involves assessing basic literacy skills and numeracy skills, and personality, which measures individual differences in motivation and preferences and individual interests in types of careers. Additionally, the center offers other services, which comprise informative development workshops covering topics like leadership, communication, public speaking, project management, idea generation, and the use of social media. "Bedaya offers a wide variety of seminars by experts in their field to steer budding young business owners in the right direction," Al-Sowaidi explains. "These workshops focus on useful topics such as customer management, franchising, exiting your business, personal branding, team building, finance, social media, and marketing and have been very well received." Al- Sowaidi notes that the Qatari government is committed to creating a dynamic and competitive post-carbon economy through diversification with the re-investment of country's significant energy wealth. "This economic transformation is being achieved through the prudent management of its hydrocarbon reserves to turn its carbon capital into human capital," she says. "The idea is to realize this through education and skills training and by encouraging enterprise and the private sector to flourish."

Image credit: Bedaya Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Development

The World Economic Forum (WEF) cites statistics that there are now 40 million youth unemployed in the Middle East with one in four without
a job in 2012 and 27 million not in education, employment or training in 2010. "Against these statistics, the WEF states that 600 million jobs need to be created in the next decade– Bedaya's approach is key to addressing these challenges to give the youth the opportunities in life they deserve and the choice of a career or building an enterprise." As a result, with potentially not enough jobs to go round, the route to enterprise is a seriously viable alternative and Bedaya provides a lifeline for young people wanting to start their own business but not having the know-how. After all, it is entrepreneurship training and development courses that guide startups to recognize business opportunities and gives their owners the confidence to succeed.

Futhermore, Bedaya has introduced many valuable and successful first-time initiatives such as Small Trader, and the annual Enterprise Challenge, a massive nation-wide initiative supported by Shell targeting 700 students from nine universities and 12 schools. "They compete on an ethical business challenge and business simulation for prizes awarded at the finals held during Global Entrepreneurship Week." At present, there are approximately more than 12,500 young people registered with Bedaya, including Qataris and non-Qataris. "Bedaya offers a Coaching Clinic for young people seeking career counseling and typically advises young people how to set career goals to match their personality, career interests, ambitions and skills to choose an appropriate future career for them."

Successively, the center has also introduced innovative alternatives to the traditional job interview to enable candidates to try out positions before they commit, such as part-time jobs, taster days for candidates, mentoring, volunteering, job shadowing and internships. In addition, there is the SMEToolkit Qatar, which is a training tool for startups and new business owners. The SMEToolkit Qatar covers market overview, business planning, accounting and finance, legal and insurance, human resources, marketing and sales, operations, technology, and international business. "It also advises on social media marketing, how to get market in- sights and start a business, sales forecasting, sources of capital and funding and recruiting and hiring people," Al-Sowaidi says.

Image credit: Bedaya Center for Entrepreneurship and Career Development

Qatar is committed to achieving a knowledge-based sustainable economy; the tiny Arab peninsula is one of the most dynamic, progressive and fastest growing economies in the region and arguably the world. The country's National Vision 2030 comprises four guiding principles for a sustainable economy and growth path for a focus on human, social, and economic and environment development. "Providing a foundation for future generations for economic development, the government and the society is key to the 2030 Vision. Naturally this involves education and developing human capital across the board with an ecosystem that enables creativity to flourish and encourages innovation and entrepreneurship in Qatar." The focus for Qatar is on the diversification and expansion of its economy beyond its hydrocarbons sector. "Hence, Bedaya's aims align with the 2030 Vision by encouraging enterprise amongst young people with training programs that can help them start businesses and ultimately help to grow the private sector."

In summary, the center's mission is to provide access to a wide range of youth services, which is 100% free, in order for the youth to achieve their career goals, develop skills and accelerate their entrepreneurial spirit. "Bedaya's vision is to become the destination for entrepreneurial and career development services in Qatar," Al-Sowaidi says. "It offers a unique program of developing and supporting young entrepreneurs succeed in the private sector. At the same time, Bedaya informs young people about their career options."

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