SHEWORKS, BADIR und Yatooq: Saudi entrepreneurs fascinate GESALO and AHK network


With an average age of 27.2 years and a 50%-proportion of the population younger than 30 years old, it is obvious that especially regarding the Saudi Vision 2030 and the increasing independence from oil, young Saudis are more and more setting up their own businesses and go into self-employment.

By 2030, the proportion of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) is expected to grow from 20 to 35 per cent and instead of currently 500,000 jobs, at least 700,000 jobs shall be created. Dr. Michael Blank, Head of New Economy & Startups of the German Chambers of Commerce (AHKs), who is responsible for Startups in 90 countries, got first-hand impressions of the Saudi entrepreneur scene during a Startup-tour organized by the German-Saudi Arabian Liaison Office for Economic Affairs (GESALO).

SHEWORKS – shining example for Saudi female entrepreneurial spirit

The fact that the new entrepreneur community is not a purely male business is proved by a visit to SHEWORKS. As a co-working space, SHEWORKS is currently offering around 20 young female entrepreneurs - primarily from the creative industry - not only premises, but also business consultations, trainings and governmental services. "I want to encourage other young women to develop and implement their own ideas," disclosed founder Maha Shirah who launched SHEWORKS three years ago. SHEWORKS is a showcase for the new entrepreneurial spirit of Saudi women, but not a single case. According to Arab News, about 38% of the Startups, founded in 2016, were held by women.

BADIR – Business incubators for Industry 4.0.

The name says it all: BADIR (Arabic for: "to initiate") was launched in 2007 at the King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology (KACST). The Program for Technology Incubators has supported around 200 start-ups since 2015 and is striving for ambitious targets. By 2020, 600 start-ups in nine different cities shall be initiated by BADIR.

Several of the BADIR supported Startups are operating nowadays outside the Kingdom. One of them: Yatooq. CEO Lateefa Alwaalan, who was awarded as "Saudi Entrepreneur of the Year 2015" at the KSA Awards in Riyadh, has transferred traditional Arabian coffee into modernity through innovative production technology. Founded in 2011, she currently employs around 75 people. "Just to develop and improve the recipes was not enough to place Yatooq profitable into the market,” underlined Lateefa Alwaalan. Rather, a long research and development phase was necessary. By selling coffee machines specifically made for Arabian coffee, Yatooq achieved the breakthrough and is one of the most-successful Saudi female Startup of the recent years.

German-Saudi Exchange: Invitation to „Startup Germany 2017“ for Saudi entrepreneurs

Mohammad Al-Abdulqadir, CEO of the logistics start-up "Homoola" and founder of the "OrderMe" app, is actually supported by BADIR and one of the country's biggest talents, according to Forbes Middle East.

His logistics and transportation solutions were ranked under the Top Ten Most Promising Saudi Startups 2016. Furthermore, other young companies such as "Quant Data & Analytics" deeply impressed the German delegation and were invited to participate at "Startup Germany 2017", organized by the AHK network (October 14-20, 2017). The event shall enable a direct exchange between start-ups from more than 15 countries and decision-makers from companies, venture capital funds and policies.

In future, GESALO will put a stronger focus on Startups and create further connections, cooperations and exchanges between the Saudi entrepreneur scene and the German business community.