I am a very lucky person. I travel around the Middle East to different Startup Weekend events and am afforded a front row seat to all of the incredible projects people are working on. I’ve met hundreds of would-be entrepreneurs, investors, government officials, and university professors. All of them are excited about the growing entrepreneurial activity occurring within their respective communities – be it in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates. Yet, my attendance at all of these events would not have been possible if not for the incredible efforts of the local Startup Weekend Organizing Teams in each one of these communities.
Startup Weekend Organizing Teams are democratizers of entrepreneurship and builders of community – bringing together people from the fields of science, arts, technology, and business to create innovative solutions for local and global problems. They provide their communities a platform for experiential education to validate business ideas, form teams, and set entrepreneurial aspirations in motion. They are responsible for real businesses getting started. The ripple effects of their efforts will undoubtedly evoke economic change from the bottom up.
Earlier this month, Startup Weekend held the first of many Startup Retreats in the United Arab Emirates celebrating the efforts of Startup Weekend Organizing Teams. The purpose of the Retreat was to build stronger bonds between different entrepreneurial communities in the MENA region and amplify the impact Startup Weekend Organizing Teams deliver. The Retreat was fully sponsored by the Sharjah Tatweer Forum – proving their dedication to supporting the grassroots growth of entrepreneurship. I am incredibly grateful for their support.
I had the chance to finally meet people I have exchanged emails with for nearly two years and learn of the little stories of Startup Weekend success that collectively put a dent in the universe. As I boarded a plane back to the USA, I felt incredibly motivated to make sure Startup Weekend core operations continues to be responsive to the needs of Startup Weekend Organizing Teams – the people who are ultimately responsible for delivering the Startup Weekend experience to attendees in their communities.
In 2010, there were only 4 Startup Weekend events that took place in the MENA region; I expect to end 2012 with 40+ events. It has been a wonderful ride and I am optimistic for the future.