Since the 18th century, Kuwait has been known for trade, but when it comes to start-ups or nurturing young entrepreneurs it is still in nascent stage. Till 2009, nearly 85% of the population was in government jobs and was not even dreaming of starting their own business.
Things started changing from 2009 onwards when many initiatives were taken for and by the entrepreneurs. Bazaars, support organisations, and farmers markets started happening, thereby encouraging small businesses and budding entrepreneurs. People started making use of technology and social platforms to market their products and services.
But in spite of all these efforts, the bribe culture was prevalent among the public officials, bureaucracy and ‘wasta’, which simply translates to who you know created barriers and dissuade the striving youth entrepreneurs.
Things, however, look a bit rosy now with both government and people focusing on diversifying the economy away from oil. The government is committed to contributing a US$7 billion (Dh25.7bn) fund for small and medium-sized businesses. It is trying to encourage people to become entrepreneurs. Many business start-up incubators have also been launched in the city to guide these young entrepreneurs to succeed in their endeavours.
The young businessmen are also highly supportive of government’s initiatives and playing their part to boost private sector participation in the economy. Together, they are trying to develop an ecosystem, which is welcoming and not a mysterious and nightmarish experience. Efforts are underway to showcase the public and private sector’s vision of a pro-business environment that is compliant with international regulations to the world.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Anas Khalid Al-Saleh says, “Kuwait is gifted with talent, it is a trading community; this worked very well for us when there was no oil and can do well with less focus on it now. Where and how the private sector will grow from here can only be told with time. Even though there are seemingly plenty of roadblocks and barriers there is plenty of enthusiasm, too.”
The perfect recipe for a start-up is having people who are street smart, book smart and most importantly open to new ideas and are not scared of experimenting. They should not be demotivated by failures. Start-ups are the uncharted territories which bring with itself a new problem every other day. It is not possible that you will be able to overcome every problem easily. It takes a lot of patience, perseverance and dedication.
The ground is ready for such people to try out their luck and the young and enthusiastic people are also ready to take the world in their stride. They are passionate and ready to give their best shot. Failure at some stage is inevitable in entrepreneurship. The key to success is learning from that failure and move ahead with double motivation and this spirit is loud and clear in Kuwaitis.