Friday, December 18, 2009

Thoughts from the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards is the premier award for students that own and run businesses while attending a college or university.

As we have mentioned before, one of our students was one of the 30 finalists at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards - and was one of just THREE women!

Ms. Maria Mahdaly was happy to share with us a few thoughts on her experience at the event:

When I was getting ready for the GSEA competition, I spent day and night preparing the perfect presentation, the strongest pitch, and the polishing up my written report. I aspired to win and actually thought I had a chance. However, when I arrived in Kansas City at The Kauffman Foundation, the largest foundation devoted to entrepreneurship, and started talking to the other competitors about themselves and their ventures it was clear that some were more experienced. They had achieved more and overcome a lot of challenges and obstacles. It hit me that I would not win.

As the Chinese proverb says: "A wise man learns from experience, a wiser man learns from the experience of others." Looking back now, being around all of those smart, successful, inspiring, young entrepreneurs from 27 different countries and seeing the passion and drive each one has was incredibly inspirational. Each and every one of us is facing the similar challenges and struggles in making our businesses successful. On top of that, we also have to worry about doing homework and excelling in our college educations. I took the opportunity to learn from the experiences of my peers and from the judges, and absorb as much knowledge as I could.

I urge and encourage every aspiring young entrepreneur to take advantage of every situation he/she may come across to learn and benefit. I read once that “the greatest difference between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs is that non-entrepreneurs never actually give it a try.”

So if you have something that you’re really excited to do and you're passionate about, do it and follow your dreams.

I did not win, but I did come home a winner.

Bravo Maria - we wish you continuing success.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Social media used to mobilize Jeddah

A few thoughts from one of our Dar Al Hekma students, Alaa Al-Mizyen, on the utility of social media in crisis situations:

In the wake of one of the most hard-hitting flash flood disasters to strike Jeddah in decades, social unions, youth groups, and charity organizations have sprouted overnight with the sole mission of shedding light upon this unfortunate occurrence. Some chose to deal with the flood aftermath in scrutiny and backlash, while others hung their heads low in grief and resonating heartaches…and then, there were those who heeded to the silent cries of the city’s inhabitants.

The message to be spread was loud and clear – help was needed, and it was needed immediately. Facebook groups with the mission of providing support to those afflicted by the flash floods were created instantly, with one such group obtaining approximately 30,000 members within a matter of days. Twitter and Watwet chirps echoed calls to action. Youtube and Flickr became the city’s visual podium – new social media, with its ability to reach the masses within seconds, lit a spirit of camaraderie and benevolence amongst the community. Volunteer groups were formed overnight with people heading over to the Jeddah Exhibition Center to help pack relief kits and sort donated goods. Men with 4x4s trekked out to the damage sites in search of stranded survivors. Collective efforts were pitched in almost instantaneously and I couldn’t help but recall how the infinite advantages of new social media were stressed upon during module I, and again in module II, of the US-Saudi Women’s Forum on Social Entrepreneurship.

We are living through a fruitful era, an era that is marked by unvarying connectedness and globalization. If applying new social media to your social enterprise seems trivial, just take a look at how it brought together a whole city during a time of despair. Discover a need, uphold a cause, throw it out into a networking media tool and you’ll reach thousands, impact millions, and help the world rid itself of one predicament at a time.

post by: Alaa Al-Mizyen
Co-founder of GreenJeddah
Creator of Arabian Pop

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Who wants to be Unreasonable?

We've featured the Unreasonable Institute on our blog in the past, but I wanted to share a recent video which 2 of the co-founders put together.

In the video, these young entrepreneurs lay out their summer institute, and the characteristics that they are looking for in their applicants.


Behind the Scenes with Unreasonable Institute Co-Founders from Teju Ravilochan on Vimeo.

***Forum ladies: let me know if you are interested in applying- applications are due December 15th.