Malak Al Khadour in an interview with the head of Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship, Mohammed Obeidat
Youth VS Reality; A Brief on Jordanian Entrepreneurship
Youth today can be described as a strange combination of utter enthusiasm and terrifying apathy. You could be one of the young men or women who had a brilliant idea or a pioneering project that was new to society or even the world, but the doubts simply consumed your mind. Perhaps you didn’t know much about how to start implementing the idea, or maybe you feared having it stolen, or simply you didn’t know what approach to take!
If you belong to this group, this blog is designed to answer some of the questions you have in mind.
During my interview with the head of Queen Rania Centre for Entrepreneurship, Mohammed Obeidat, we talked about entrepreneurship and the local youth; What we didn’t learn in schools, what our parents didn’t teach us, and what we didn’t seek properly. We discussed many topics during this interview where I was able to convey the perspectives of Generation 01 team members, their fears, questions, and hopes for an entrepreneurship-encouraging environment.
What is entrepreneurship?
Obeidat sees that entrepreneurship is a new or innovative solution to a real problem that no one noticed before or could find a solution for. On the other hand, I find that our society faces many challenges that we should address and resolve. In that context, what is the role of institutions and the education system in encouraging entrepreneurship?
While institutions shall advertise and offer information, conduct awareness sessions, and provide networking opportunities, young people still bear the responsibility to search for opportunities. Therefore, regardless of the traditional method of receiving information, we, as conscious youth, must not victimize ourselves and seize information and opportunities.
From dropouts to global pioneers, how can we integrate entrepreneurship with the education system?
The education system followed in schools and colleges might be to blame due to the lack of focus on the basic skills of entrepreneurship, such as critical and analytical thinking, however, it is up to us to seize opportunities.
Mohammed Obeidat’s expressed his opinion on the matter: “In addition to re-evaluating the quality of education and curriculums, universities should play a bigger role in creating opportunities for students, providing the required resources, and making laboratories available for them rather than shutting them out in fear of misusing the equipment. Universities should also offer comprehensive practical experience; For instance, students should be given the opportunity to indulge in the local market and big companies to grab an idea of the challenges their communities face and need to resolve using the means of entrepreneurship.”
Mr. Obeidat pointed out that experience itself can be the key to any successful entrepreneurial project. He believes in the importance of instilling the entrepreneurial mindset among students from an early age, however, this does not mean they are capable of launching projects and successfully managing them.
“There is an institution that organizes competitions for students of private and public schools on how to start their own project, which is a distinctive and positive method to teach students entrepreneurial thinking skills. However, can students bear the stress of overseeing their project while maintaining progress in their education? Do they have adequate expertise to drop out and focus on the project? Would that stress hold a permanent negative influence on their psyche?”
Moreover, Mr. Obeidat believes that by the time one reaches the thirties, they would have already graduated and acquired the adequate practical expertise to launch a project, not to mention they would have explored several job opportunities and developed the flexibility and capacity required to make decisions and bear the stress of launching private projects.
“Entrepreneurship should exceed our aspirations to join the successful 1% and focus on innovative ideas that address the issues our communities encounter,” Mr. Obeidat expressed this interesting idea referring to entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Bill Gates as the 1%.
I have an idea… where should I go from there?
The conversation took a turn, if I had an idea with an unobstructed vision to what I aspire to achieve, what are the institutions that I should reach out to as an entrepreneur?
It depends on the project’s type, but in general, the authorities or institutions you refer to are 15 to 20 different ones, including:
- – Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- – Customs and Income Tax
- – Ministry of Labor
- – Specifications and Standards
- – Food and Medicine
- – Royal Scientific Society
- – Royal Geographical Center
- – Military Security and Military Embassies
This could indicate our need for amending some regulations, or actively implementing unified portals, and here I quote Mr. Obeidat’s definition of the unified portal: “One portal to complete all the tasks and documentation needed to register your startup.”
Despite the need to unify the authorities we have to refer to under one portal, or at the very least reduce their number, there are official government authorities that the entrepreneur can turn to for help and guidance, and they are, in Obeidat’s words, “reliable”, as he mentioned: “I believe that everything governmental is reliable as those who provide services within these institutions are our people. There are many other reliable local institutions that can be referred to take the necessary guidance.” Among the trusted authorities Obeidat mentioned: The Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship; the JEDCO Foundation, the Jordanian Corporation for the Development of Economic Enterprises; and the Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship, which focuses on technologically innovative ideas, provides entrepreneurs with spaces to work on their ideas, and offers training and networking opportunities, as well as financial support through the Queen Rania Award for Entrepreneurship.
How to keep my idea from being stolen?
“You can’t, an idea cannot be protected. It may get stolen, but could it be implemented exactly as you would have done it? No. What distinguishes an idea is the process of execution; If one has a unique idea and sufficient knowledge as regards his project, he will preserve that idea,” Obeidat answered.
Mr. Obeidat also suggested a set of solutions that we can utilize to protect property rights:
- – Patent registration: The procedures are easy, and the cost is relatively low.
- – Registering the property with the International Organization for the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights – WIPO, to get international protection for thirty months until you choose the country in which you want to register your company.
- – Registering a trademark at the Ministry of Industry and Trade with simple procedures and low costs.
The process of nurturing entrepreneurial minds is not limited to the entrepreneurs themselves, but rather it is an integrated process that begins with family support, providing the appropriate educational environment, and then the encouraging national economy. Believing in oneself makes everything possible. There are plenty of opportunities waiting for us to seize; We need to learn how to utilize available resources, though poor or nearly non-existent, to seek that opportunity and reach our goals.
Image: Malak Al Khadour in an interview with the head of Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship, Mohammed Obeidat
This blog reflects the thoughts of Malak AL Khadour after an interview with Mohammed Obeidat, one of the most prominent local specialists and activists in the entrepreneurship sector, as part of the “Generation 01” program implemented by Generations for Peace, with the support of the US Embassy in Jordan.