The Fikra Program was built to create an innovative and entrepreneurial generation. It aims to equip young people in Kuwait with essential business skills and knowledge required to succeed and develop their own businesses ideas.
The Fikra Program was launched in 2015 and harnesses the power of corporate social responsibility by offering the country’s youth an opportunity to receive entrepreneurship training. It’s important to note that the Fikra Program is not limited to university graduates alone, as anyone over the age of 21 with a passion for entrepreneurship is eligible to apply, thus making Fikra an accessible program for aspiring entrepreneurs from all walks of life. You can apply as an individual or as part of a team. The program provides one-on-one mentoring for guidance and support as well as intensive business training through workshops and field trips. They are also afforded media exposure, networking and investment opportunities.
And while they focus on Kuwait as a starting point, expansion into the GCC is part of their outlook and philosophy. The Fikra Program sets up opportunities for the entrepreneurs engaged in the Program to better understand the GCC market, making the usually daunting process of expanding outside of Kuwait even easier, especially for tech startups. For instance, during the second edition of Fikra Program the participants visited Dubai SME and learned about the many opportunities that are available to Kuwaiti entrepreneurs in Dubai. During the third edition, the participants visited the Khalifa Fund in Abu Dhabi, and this, in turn, offered the entrepreneurs a great deal of knowledge about pitching their business ideas and understanding the UAE entrepreneurship ecosystem.
The good people at Cubical Services Business Incubator noticed a pattern in the obstacles that faced aspiring businesses and upcoming entrepreneurs. Most of them found it challenging to move from an idea to an operational business. From there, Fikra was born out of their sense of a desire to give back to the community. The training is free and focuses on eliminating these obstacles while offering full ongoing support and providing participants with customized business training in a practical manner.
“We strongly believe in the great potential of aspiring entrepreneurs with creative and innovative ideas and we are very passionate about empowering entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and start their own businesses.” – says Mariam Hisham Al-Rayes, Fikra Program Manager at Cubical Services.
With every edition of Fikra, fifteen business ideas are accepted. Last year more than three hundred and fifty people applied. But with the National Fund for SME Development’s support as a strategic partner, Fikra will be providing training to any of the applicants that are not accepted, yet meet the requirements of the National Fund for SME Development.
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Day 1: The exciting first life changing steps in 28 entrepreneurs business journey! . . . Thank you @blankhunts for the exciting team building challenge . . . Thank you @lazurd_express for the delicious dinner . . . Fikra Program is proudly supported by @youthkuwait @thenationalfund @alhamratower @aawalmutawa @gulf_bank @markazkuwait @alsayergroup @lexuskw @gc_kuwait @cubicalservices
One of the driving forces for the program’s success is the support from everyone involved. Sponsors are not just trying to tick social corporate responsibility off of their to-do list. They are actively involved and invested in seeing entrepreneurs make it. Gulf Bank, for example, has supported Fikra for three years in a row. “There is a great deal of business potential among the youth of Kuwait, so our collaboration with Fikra Program is valuable to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with the steps to build their business careers and help turn exciting ideas into realistic business ventures.” – says Ahmed Al Amir, Gulf Bank’s Assistant General Manager for External Communication.
The program’s graduates are invited back to pass on their knowledge as trainers, mentors and to share their entrepreneurial journey in an effort to inspire the Fikra participants. Fikra also invites other successful entrepreneurs to share their knowledge such as Sulaiman Al Tarrah from Bleems, Dr. Naif Al Mutawa from the 99, Farah Al Humaidhi from Pieces by Farah, and Co-founders of Pick Jassem Al Duaij and Mr. Bader Al Oqaili .
Perhaps most telling of Fikra’s success is their incredible track record. Many of their graduates have gone on to create viable and strong businesses and non-profit startups such as Lawpedia, BirthKuwait, Hibr, FashionOnWheels and SnackBook. These are only a handful of many more!
Applications for the Fikra Program can be found online on www.fikraprogram.com and will be accepted until 11 November 2018. And follow them on Instagram @fikraprogram for more info on the program and participants.