Telcos Can (And Should) Enable The Success Of MENA's Millennial Entrepreneurs Millennials are driven towards entrepreneurship by their desire to work autonomously combined with their eagerness to make a difference in the world.

By Hany Aly

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Much like many other aspects of modern life and business, millennials have come to dominate the entrepreneurial landscape. They have all the right characteristics to make waves as entrepreneurs: not only do they comprise one of the largest generations in history, but they are also the most educated and the most technologically versed generation. This is especially true in the Middle East, which boasts the largest proportion of millennial entrepreneurs in the world, according to a recent report by HSBC Private Bank.

Millennials are driven towards entrepreneurship by their desire to work autonomously combined with their eagerness to make a difference in the world. They are a career-oriented cohort with a knack for creativity and innovation– and in the Middle East, a region known as a global innovation hub built on a foundation of technological development, millennials are poised to lead the entrepreneurial charge in the coming years.

In today's digitally driven world, millennial entrepreneurs have an advantage over their older counterparts from previous generations. They are the world's first digital natives, having grown up with smartphones and the internet always available, and as such, they are more knowledgeable and comfortable with the technology that has shaped our modern lives. They are intellectually equipped to conquer the world's challenges and build businesses that can flourish– but just as technology works in their favor as entrepreneurs, so too does it hinder them.

To succeed in today's competitive business landscape, entrepreneurs must have access to the digital tools and technologies that have become commonplace in established companies' operations. This is where telecoms operators come in. As businesses become increasingly digital every day, telcos provide necessary resources such as IT tools and services, digital infrastructure, and connectivity– all of which are vital in entrepreneurial endeavors. Millennials are already equipped with the ambition, vision, and disruptive mindset they need to get their business ventures off the ground, but without the right digital resources, they will scarcely move beyond the early stages of business development.

It is not by coincidence that the nowpervasive global giants that began as millennial-founded startups, such as Uber, Venmo, and Airbnb, operate almost exclusively through digital means. Their founders saw an opportunity in digitalization and seized it, and as the world has grown increasingly dependent on technology, they have continued to capitalize on this trend. Their success has grown in tandem with the presence and availability of connectivity, and information and communications technology (ICT) on a global scale, reflecting the value of digital resources in entrepreneurial success.

In order for budding entrepreneurs to compete with larger and more established entities, they must have access to the same digital resources. Affordable and accessible digital services have become a necessity in this regard, and for operators seeking to make the most of the immense opportunity available in the millennial market, it will be vital to cater to these needs. In the face of a global technological transformation, entrepreneurial endeavors will come to depend largely, if not entirely, on the availability of advanced digital service and solutions– and it will be up to telcos to ensure that they can prosper.

Equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and technologies that will enable them to succeed is a mutually beneficial undertaking for both provider and recipient. By creating new business models tailored to meet the needs and foster the growth of millennial entrepreneurs, operators can capture the market opportunities that come with providing for an unprecedentedly large and influential generation. By investing in the success of the world's young business leaders, telcos are paving the way for technological evolution and adaptation– which is vital for their longterm sustainability.

In the Middle East, telecoms providers are already making strides to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in millennials. For example, du, the leading telco in the UAE, has undertaken a range of initiatives designed to help entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses. With services and solutions including WiFi UAE, a nationwide service that provides WiFi access to the public; and Smart Concierge, which uses blockchain technology to help businesses streamline and solve visitor management problems, du is supporting entrepreneurship and connected business across the UAE.

For operators in an age of digitalization, entrepreneurship presents an opportunity to increase footprint through providing connectivity infrastructure and business services through the disruptive technologies that align with the disruptive entrepreneurial business model. As millennials continue to infiltrate the entrepreneurial space in the coming years, it will be in the operators' best interest to devise a plan to cater to budding entrepreneurs' needs in terms of connectivity, digital resources, and ICT solutions.

Related: From Operator To Service Provider: The Role Of Telcos In Tomorrow's Digital Future

Hany Aly

Executive and investor focused on the Middle East startup ecosystem

Hany Aly is an executive and investor focused on the startup ecosystem in the Middle East. For more than 20 years, he has created and executed strategies to support innovation, digital transformation, and the growth of telecoms and information communication technology (ICT) organizations across the region.


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