What makes your future? We all know the drill – we go to school: primary, secondary, college, university, then on to do our Masters and PhDs. Then, somewhere wedged in between the latter halves of our educational lives, we figure out what it is we want to do—if we’re lucky. A lot of people don’t have the luxury of playing around with career options before going off into the world and being an adult, but INJAZ has started a revolution for Kuwait’s youth, by helping them explore their options earlier in life.
Injaz-Kuwait (INJAZ), a non-profit organization established in Kuwait in 2005, has a mission to prepare Kuwait’s youth to succeed in the global economy by implementing a variety of programs in private and public middle and high schools, vocational colleges and universities. With eleven different programs including the flagship Company Program, Kuwait’s youth are given an opportunity to learn about and build experiences in Entrepreneurship, Work Readiness and Financial Literacy, all under the guidance of top companies and qualified volunteers from Kuwait’s private sector. In doing this, INJAZ has bridged the gap between studying and working by giving students, aged 11 to 24, the chance to explore their potential and possibilities into their future.
Behind every great organization is a superior support system. INJAZ’s partners and board members come from a variety of different businesses, and among them is Meshaan Al-Meshaan, Chief Business Development Officer of ALARGAN International Real Estate Company.
As a board member of INJAZ-Kuwait, Meshaan has contributed to the organization’s development by providing volunteers for programs, venues for events and conferences, and, as a previous Company Program Competition judge has driven the youths to success with vehement guidance and a share of his expertise. “To support an organization such as INJAZ and the youths involved in it, we have to be active. The role I have as a board member, as well as ALARGAN as a partner, is essential into driving these students towards the private sector.” To Meshaan, along with INJAZ and its supporters, one of the aims of this organization is to remind the students that there’s a whole range of opportunities in the private sector when it comes to choosing a career.
With its fourth annual CPC approaching in June, bazaar met up with Meshaan to talk about his experiences as a former panel judge of the competition, his involvement with INJAZ as a board member, and why he thinks the organization is a vital experience for the youths of Kuwait to engage in during their educational years.
Can you tell us about INJAZ’s Flagship Program: Company Program?
The Company Program targets high school and university students, ages 18 to 24. The classroom turns into a real start up with the help of a mentor or an entrepreneur, and students come up with a business idea, study its feasibility, sell stocks to raise capital and produce a business plan. INJAZ then provides the students with a platform at a mall for thirty days to help encourage product/service sales. This is followed by an exciting annual national competition, the CPC, which I had the pleasure of being a judge for last year.
Can you tell us about the annual Company Program Competition (CPC)?
The CPC is a two-day competition facilitated by INJAZ, where each group of students is assigned a booth to showcase their product and/or services throughout the two days. At this time, they get a chance to compete for three awards: Best Company of the Year, Most Innovative Product, and Best Social Impact. The competition is fair because we split the competitors by level, where various high schools compete against each other and various university students compete against each other. The succeeding companies that win Best Company of the Year award will then participate in the regional Company Program Competition and represent Kuwait.
What was your role in the CPC?
I was part of the judging panel for the university student companies in last year’s CPC. University students’ companies were judged based on the following categories: Company Report, Booth Visit, Public Presentation and Panel Interview. I also saw some high school students’ projects, however, and I was surely impressed!
Can you tell us about your experience as a judge?
I saw some amazing projects, and they are great examples of how students should not be underestimated. Although they are young, some of the most creative projects I had seen came from their level! There was a group that had a portable shade for your car which you could fit around your car to protect it from the sun or rain wherever you parked. Another group had a portable wheelchair ramp to assist the disabled if there weren’t any wheelchair friendly ramps available in a public or private space. The experience was impressive and fulfilling – I really enjoyed it. I felt it allowed me to look at things from a different perspective. You find these students are encouraged to do more and dedicated to what they create, and this experience gives them a platform where they believe they can produce this in the real world. It was amazing to be a part of that and I look forward to doing it again.
What does INJAZ hope to achieve for Kuwait’s community by providing programs such as these?
INJAZ hopes to bridge the gap between education and the workforce by facilitating eleven soft skills and communication programs in both Arabic and English that cover three pillars: Entrepreneurship, Work Readiness and Financial Literacy. It’s truly a privilege that we have programs facilitated by an organization such as INJAZ in Kuwait, and I wish we had it when I was in school. I feel that this organization shifts the educational system from the standard method of learning and gives students a perspective on the paths they’ll take in their future.
Do you have any words of encouragement to share with Kuwait’s youth?
I strongly encourage students who are currently in private and public colleges, universities and high schools to try out programs by INJAZ, especially the Company Program. You will not realize until you get into a realistic company setting, and with the CPC INJAZ-Kuwait in partnership with the private sector is giving you the opportunity to do so. You can also benefit from the volunteers who are putting in the time to guide you, and understand that having INJAZ accessible to you is a privilege – take advantage of it.