There's the old adage - think global, act local. When encouraging people to take action on the environment we ask them to start small, making changes to the environment around them. In the context of business and today's Web 2.0 age, start-ups, especially internet businesses need not only think global but can also act global.
In the increasingly competitive global and connected economy it is essential that SMEs think big. This was one of the key messages resonating at the inaugural Global Youth Forum which I spoke at last week in Abu Dhabi, which was attended by hundreds of Emirati students and aspiring entrepreneurs from across the world.
The event, organised by Al Ahli Holding Group in partnership with British Council focused on entrepreneurship, covering topics such as business planning, marketing and the role that new small and medium sized businesses have in the global economy. Participants were also given the opportunity to attend seminars given by numerous visiting professors, business leaders and entrepreneurs including a talk by UK entrepreneur Diana Bird (co-founder and director of loyalty card company Wedge Card).
I was invited by the British Council to share my experiences as a young graduate entrepreneur and help inspire the Emirati students and graduates that entrepreneurship is and should be seen as a viable and rewarding career path.
In a country of relative wealth and prosperity the career path of choice is usually to work in a government role; and with the high salaries, benefits package, generous holidays and so on, you can understand why. But from engaging with the students at the Youth Forum it seemed that they would not require much convincing; they seemed eager to embrace entrepreneurship, learn more about business and interact with the international delegates.
As part of the Global Youth Forum, we heard pitches from young people who had previously taken part in a competition called Global Business Opportunities (the GBO). The premise of the competition was that young people from different countries including Jordan, Argentina, Brazil , South Africa and the United Arab Emirates were put together in teams during a three-week Entrepreneurship Boot Camp and asked to develop business ideas during this period.
Following the face to face contact at the Boot Camp, the teams had to work remotely to put together a business plan and the winners of this were invited to pitch in the final round to judges at the Global Youth Forum. The winning team - a team comprised of young people from Brazil and the United Arab Emirates pitched the concept of bringing Brazilian Football to the United Arab Emirates and developing Brazilian themed indoor football arenas.
The team walked away with a prize of $20,000 but what was clear to see was that whilst the cash prize was good, the international friendships forged had tremendous value in their own right and having spoken to the runners-up they concurred.
What most impressive me was how they had managed to develop an idea and work on it through the joys of e-communication whilst being based in different parts of the world. This competition really drove home the ability for entrepreneurs starting up to think global and act global in all ways. In the case of this team, they had taken inspiration from Brazil and applied it to the UAE market.
There's no reason why those of you thinking about launching your own businesses should not think about how your product/service can be applied to other markets or how you can learn from what is happening abroad and introduce it to your own country.
Entrepreneurs have no boundaries. We may be from different countries but we share a common culture; a desire to make a difference, a desire to add value and create opportunities in the world through business and social enterprise. The young people at the Global Youth Form epitomised the essence of the connected world we live in; they utilised the chance to create a truly unique global network of contacts, left with a greater awareness of different cultures and the business environment of other nations and last but not least a whole heap of new Facebook friends!
Rajeeb Dey is founder & CEO of Enternships.com.
You can read the full Smarta interview with Rajeeb Dey