I'm an early adopter. I'm that woman who would rather cruise the projects of Indiegogo than the floor of Zara. I've purchased funky new technology and contributed to "out of the box" community campaigns for the pure enjoyment of being part of something new. Which is why sometimes I find myself perplexed.
Oman's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
Like now. I've been living in Oman on and off for the past year, immersing myself in the beauty, the history and the excitement of being on the ground floor of a budding entrepreneurial ecosystem. Since my arrival, I've been face to face with the founders of brave new environmental and technology initiatives, I've spoken to passionate young entrepreneurs about the struggle to keep their funnel full and I've commiserated with experienced entrepreneurs about the need to pivot their business in order to survive. I've networked with heads of NGOs and government programs who are positioned, with funds in hand, to nurture the next generation of Omani entrepreneurs. So, why am I perplexed? Because no one seems excited.
Perhaps "no one" is too harsh. There is, however, a familiar refrain - "young people don't want to work hard, they lack commitment, they lack the necessary skills." There is talk about the talk. The fact that Oman has been promoting entrepreneurism for years but little is happening, other than the talking. Being the new kid on the street, I see things differently.
I see a generation of young entrepreneurs anxious to build their dreams. I see barriers that slow them down and frustrate them. I see a community of stakeholders that aren't buying in and, as such, are stifling their youthful energy. I see an opportunity so big it makes me want to jump out of my skin with excitement.
The Opportunity for Early Adopters
So, this blog is for my fellow early adopters. The Omani government has pulled out all the stops to ensure that an infrastructure that supports entrepreneurism exists. One only has to look at Sharakah, National Business Centre, Al Raffd, Intillaqaah, Injaz, SAS, the various banks - the list goes on and on. There is nothing lacking here. But what is needed for entrepreneurism to thrive, is you. Founders leading founders. Outside of a handful of privately funded efforts, the vast majority of private stakeholders are waiting for someone to blink before they get onboard.
Let me be the first. Right now there are some pretty exciting initiatives going on in Oman. I'm only a visitor here but you'll see me actively involved. Like mentoring entrepreneurs for Zubair SEC. Or adding my voice to the social media campaign for Entrepreneurs Conclave. Or heading up a free entrepreneurial women's community called Conquer Club Oman in partnership with BizHUB. But this really isn't about me.
Its about all of us. Well, let me be more specific...I'm really speaking to Oman's existing business leaders. The successful men and women who lead powerful organizations, employ tens if not hundreds of employees - YOU, who have already taken the road less travelled. The community that surrounds and supports entrepreneurs in Oman must get active. Volunteer your time. Speak at events like Entrepreneurs Conclave. Tell your own entrepreneurial story and inspire your youth. It's not always about money. With that said, money helps. Throw a little money at some of these privately-funded initiatives. They are closing the gap. They are providing business skills training, pitch coaching, mentorship and inspiration. They need you. Growing an entrepreneur is like raising a child...it takes a community.
I leave you all with this quote because it is one I live by:
"Behaviour is the mirror in which everyone shows their image"
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
If all of us align our behaviour with the kind of action that breathes energy into these young entrepreneurs, Oman's entrepreneurial ecosystem will be thriving in no time.