As a new generation prepares to take its place in industry, Abdul Latif Jameel provides opportunities around the world for tomorrow’s leaders to start their careers today.

How should we best provide opportunities for the next generation?  How can we ensure all potential is fulfilled?  And what mechanisms are available to harness the energy and entrepreneurial spirit spreading across the Middle East and beyond?  These are the significant questions being grappled with by organizations and industry leaders around the world.

Tackling a global problem

Since the 2008, economic crash, global youth unemployment has remained uncomfortably high.  In 2018, youth unemployment around the world stood at 11.8%[1], with young people making up 35% of the world’s unemployed population[2].  In the Middle East, youth unemployment stands at approximately 20.1%[3].  

Tackling youth unemployment is a central tenet to unlocking progress on several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 8 (sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth), Goal 10 (reduced inequality), and Goal 11 (sustainable communities)[4].  It also supports progress on UN Global Compact Principle 6, which aims to eliminate employment discrimination on a range of factors – including age[5].

Opening new doors to opportunity

Studies have shown that internships can be a useful first step for helping young people climb the career ladder, helping them to develop the soft and interpersonal skills highly valued by employers, alongside job-specific skills and experience that, taken together, increase the probability of finding employment for those who have completed them[6]

Abdul Latif Jameel follows a three-pronged approach of offering education opportunities, supporting academic scholarships, and encouraging innovation and enterprise across the MENAT region.  It is a policy that it is in line with the region’s ambitions and ongoing development.

As recently as May 2019, the Saudi Arabian government – through its Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) – publicly encouraged private-sector businesses to be conscious of their social responsibility to provide training opportunities to ambitious youngsters[7].  HRDF’s summer training program, Saifi, is being staged in cooperation with several bodies, including the Ministry of Labor and Social Development.  All private enterprises with 25 or more employees are obliged to join the program, while smaller firms are also being encouraged to understand how they can help to develop youngsters’ skills and workplace experience. 

Abdul Latif Jameel has an impressive track record in providing employment, training and education opportunities to people who may otherwise be unable to access them.

Scholarships at MIT

It is 25 years since Community Jameel first established the Abdul Latif Jameel-Toyota Endowed Scholarship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  The scholarship – today known more readily as the Jameel-Toyota Scholars (or JTS) – is available to students across the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, and provides financial support to those studying undergraduate degrees at MIT.  Its aim is to help young people achieve their potential at one of the world’s leading universities, and there can be little doubt it has and is continuing to fulfill its ambition.

So far, almost 200 students from 25 different countries have benefited from the scholarship.  Many of the scholarship recipients have gone one to launch successful businesses, contributing to their communities both economically, through job creation, and socially through the promotion and advance of the positive qualities encouraged by Abdul Latif Jameel.

Fady M. Jameel, Deputy President & Chairman Abdul Latif Jameel (Center) is flanked by Omar H. Al-Madhi, (center-left) Senior Managing Director Abdul Latif Jameel Investments (and MIT Sloan alumnus) and George Richards (center-right) Director of Strategy International for Community Jameel, as they meet the current crop of Jameel Toyota Scholars at the MIT campus in Boston, USA.

Supporting young and talented leaders

The Jameel-Toyota Endowed Scholarship is far from the only program run across the diversified businesses of Abdul Latif Jameel.

Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), part of Abdul Latif Jameel Energy and a global developer of utility-scale renewable projects, has offered a Young Talented Leaders scholarship for the last four years in partnership with Fundacion Instituto de Empresa (IE Foundation). 

Scholarships are open to applicants from areas close to FRV projects.  Valued at more than US$ 140,000, the scholarship covers a four-year degree program at Spain’s IE University.  Previous winners of the scholarship have come from Uruguay and Jordan.

 

Daniel Sagi-Vela, CEO of FRV, said: “We do projects in many countries – especially developing countries – and we want to be able to give back part of what we receive from them.  The best way to do that is with education, and that’s why we introduced the scholarship program to support young people that might not have the resources to go to university.  We help them to achieve their goals and build a successful future.

Andrea Fontana, Operations Managing Director of FRV Europe, added: “This program shows FRV’s commitment to the educational community of the region and especially to young talent.

Guzman Noya, a Uruguayan national who won FRV’s Young Talent Scholarship in 2015, certainly benefited from his experience.  Since completing the scholarship, he has held positions at Banco Sabadell and Amazon.

He said: “My determination pushed me through a tough selection process.  It was definitely a challenge, but I believe you need to do your best to overcome your fears and make the most out of pressure situations.  The experience I got was priceless.  I took part in workshops and specialized courses in a very practical curriculum.  It really helps you to develop leadership and teamworking skills, and these skills will hopefully have a positive impact in my community.”

Amina Adwan, another FRV Young Talent Scholarship winner, said: “If it wasn’t for this amazing award, I wouldn’t be able to study at one of the top universities in the world.  Being able to study in IE University has provided me with the first step of being able to fulfil my lifelong dreams.  I’m so lucky to be given this scholarship. Students come here from all around the world – I think we have 80 nationalities at the university – and being able to communicate with those people from different backgrounds, and with different life stories, is so enlightening.  You learn so much from that.”

 Encouraging enterprise

In the Middle East, Community Jameel has partnered with the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Region to run the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition (ASC), a high-profile annual event first staged in 2006.  The ASC is designed to empower entrepreneurs and foster an eco-system of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Arab region, with nine winning teams from three tracks of the competition awarded a share US$ 160,000 in equity-free funding, as well as training, mentorship, coaching, and media exposure.

The 12th ASC event, held in March 2019, attracted more than 900 members from the regional startup ecosystem to Beirut, Lebanon.  Since it first began, ASC winners have created 14,000 jobs at a cost of less than US$ 10 million.  Sophia El Bahja from Morocco was a semi-finalist in the Social Entrepreneurship track with her startup NoBox Lab.  She said: “This experience was very fruitful.  Whether you win or not, I’d urge young entrepreneurs to apply to this competition.”

ASC winners in 2019 included Mashvisor, a Palestinian company helping real estate investors quickly find both traditional and Airbnb investment properties; Quadra, a Lebanese firm providing affordable optical fruit sorting machines that enable its customers to access new markets by sorting at international standards; and Compost Baladi, a Lebanese social business specializing in sustainable organic waste management.

Training for the future

Within Saudi Arabia, Abdul Latif Jamel has formed a joint venture with ‘Kaizen’ consultancy Four Principles to train Saudi nationals in lean management theory and practices. 

Kaizen is an industrial mindset developed in Japan that helps companies boost efficiency and performance, eliminate waste, and maximize resources.  The venture  will see selected Saudi Arabian nationals – both male and female – participate in a two-year program to provide lean management training.  They will each work in a consulting role operating across multiple sectors, with constant exposure to international business management approaches helping to prepare them for future leadership roles in their own career.

Fady M. Jameel, Deputy President and Vice Chairman of Abdul Latif Jameel International, said: “As Saudi Vision 2030 makes clear, our real wealth lies in the ambition of our people and the potential of our younger generation. They are the architects of our future.

That is why Abdul Latif Jameel is investing in Saudi Arabian nationals and giving them this opportunity to learn in an international environment.”

 

 

Progress through research

In the United States, meanwhile, the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), co-founded by Community Jameel and MIT in 2017, continues to drive a renaissance in education.  Recently it has also unveiled its participation in an educational program run with the Mathisi Initiative and The Moraitis School, Athens.   

The program will deliver a summer science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program for junior high-school students in Greece.  On a wider basis, the enduring partnership between Abdul Latif Jameel and MIT has supported the business leaders of tomorrow through the creation of hundreds of postgraduate scholarships.

And no-one left behind

Finally, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) – both also based at MIT – are working to ensure as many people as possible receive access to the education they need to build flourishing careers later in life.

In 2018, J-PAL teamed up with MIT’s Refugee Action (ReACT) initiative to produce a new bespoke learning program for selected refugees, giving them access to the online MicroMasters program in Data, Economics and Development Policy offered by J-PAL and MIT’s Department of Economics.

L-R: Rafael Reif, President of MIT, Hassan Jameel, President of Community Jameel Saudi Arabia, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, & Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save the Children International, at the roundtable on refugee education at WEF in Davos

At the same time, J-WEL is working with Save the Children’s global education team to strengthen the capacity of Middle East teachers and the overall education system strained by events such as the Syria conflict. 

In line with these ambitions, earlier this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Hassan Jameel, President of Community Jameel Saudi Arabia, hosted more than 15 leaders at a roundtable event to support the education systems of refugee host countries across the Middle East.

From the actions of Community Jameel around the world to the day-to-day commercial operations of Abdul Latif Jameel’s diversified business, the commitment to recognizing and fulfilling the needs of young people wherever and whenever possible through each of its business arms is clear.  Their depth of experience, and dedication to unlocking potential, make these organizations extremely well-positioned to deliver on the promise of creating a better future for all.

[1] World Employment and Social Outlook 2019, International Labour Organization, accessed May 2019

[2] Weak recovery in youth labour markets demands a sweeping response, International Labour Organization, 20 November 2017

[3] World Employment and Social Outlook 2019, International Labour Organization, accessed May 2019

[4] Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations, accessed May 2019

[5] Principle 6: Labour, United Nations Global Compact, accessed May 2019

[6] Benefits of Internships for Interns and Host Organisations, K4D, 15 June 2018

[7] Private sector urged to train Saudi youth, Arab News, 8 May 2019