• The Pearl Initiative and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector hold two panel discussions to empower start-ups in the Gulf region with a focus on improving competitiveness and sustainability in the financial technology sector.
Saudi Arabia seeks to achieve 13.3 billion Saudi riyals (3.6 billion US dollars) through the direct contribution of financial technology companies to the GDP by 2030.
Ammon – The Pearl Initiative, a leading non-profit organization in improving corporate accountability and transparency in the Gulf region, has partnered with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, a member of the Islamic Development Bank Group, to hold two exclusive panel discussions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, aimed at raising the level of competitiveness and sustainability in startups. And institutions operating in the field of financial technology in the region, based on the commitment of the Pearl Initiative to establish a solid business system well-established in the region.
As it is known, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has set ambitious goals through which it will seek to achieve 13.3 billion Saudi riyals (3.6 billion US dollars) through the direct contribution of financial technology companies to the GDP by 2030, and this is a significant increase compared to a total of 1.2 billion Saudi riyals ( $ 317 million) in 2021, according to the US-Saudi Business Council, indicating that the Kingdom reflects the tremendous growth potential and great progress opportunities inherent in the region, as the Kingdom witnessed a huge annual increase in the number of financial technology companies last year, by a whopping 79%.
In the first session, titled “Building Financial Technology Companies from the Region and for the Region,” distinguished speakers included Mohammed Al-Tajer, Founder and Managing Partner of Change Consulting FZC, and Noel Connolly, CEO of Now Money. The session discussed the importance of financial technology companies designing their services and products in a manner that meets the requirements of the Gulf region, and explored the challenges and opportunities faced by emerging companies operating in the field of financial technology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
One of the most important points highlighted by the discussion is the importance of conducting comprehensive research and analysis to identify gaps in the market and to be able to effectively meet customer requirements by designing innovative products and services. It turns out that successful companies are the ones that prioritize their customers’ opinions and experiences and adapt their solutions accordingly. The discussions also emphasized the growing importance of corporate social responsibility and environmental, social and corporate governance considerations and their key role in achieving financial inclusion, especially as customers attach great importance to companies’ social impact and sustainability performance. The session also stressed the need to provide a supportive environment that finances diverse ideas and startups to drive innovation and facilitate access to financial technology services, specifically for individuals and groups that have difficulty accessing banking services and facilities.
Commenting on the two sessions, Eng. Hamzah Al-Siktawy, Head of the Financial Inclusion Unit in the Development Efficiency Office at the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector, said: “We are very excited to unite our efforts with the Pearl Initiative and cooperate in organizing pivotal discussions that will bring about fundamental changes and confirm the role of corporate governance in achieving growth and profitability.” “Our common vision is to enable emerging technology companies in the Gulf region, especially those specialized in financial technology, to improve their competitiveness and sustainability in the region. Within the framework of this partnership, we aspire together to accelerate sustainable development paths and ensure the continuous growth and success of financial technology companies across the Kingdom.”
As for the second discussion session, it dealt with the topic “Culture Supports Business Growth” and included distinguished personalities, including Christina Andreassen, Program Manager at AstroLabs, Lujain Al-Barghouti, Director of Interaction, Culture and Sustainability at the Chalhoub Group in Saudi Arabia, and Tarek Bulbul, General Manager of RAF Publishing. The session discussed how financiers can better understand the culture of startups and engage in it more deeply to be able to build stronger and more efficient partnerships with these companies, and stressed that implementation is a key factor in building a successful culture, whether in startups or large enterprises. One of the most important conclusions of the discussion was the need to understand the dynamics of the culture of large institutions, and for partnerships and support to be characterized by patience, persistence and perseverance, and to build solid, sustainable and steadfast relationships. The session also highlighted the importance of making growth a priority in the early stages of establishing startups while taking into account governance and regulatory considerations, especially in sectors such as financial, health and biotechnology. The speakers considered sustainability a pivotal aspect that is important to be an integral part of the culture of startups, and highlighted other core values such as returns, profitability and social impact.
Mohammed Al-Mousa, Program Manager at the Pearl Initiative, said: “The two panel discussions on financial technology that we organized in partnership with the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector presented valuable insights and ideas that highlighted the necessity of designing financial technology services and products that meet the specific needs of the Gulf region. We are very happy to coordinate these discussions. fruitful and with our contribution to the development and sustainability of the emerging technological startups system in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region.”
It is worth noting that the Pearl Initiative devotes unremitting efforts to raising awareness of the importance of building a corporate culture based on accountability and transparency for companies and all stakeholders, including international companies, family businesses, small and medium-sized companies, technology companies and the youth segment. The Pearl Initiative organized these two panel discussions as part of its “Governance in the Technological Sector” program, which aims to educate technology companies operating in the Gulf on the advantages of adopting strong and innovative corporate governance structures.
The two sessions provided the participants with a unique platform to exchange insights and best practices and to foster collaboration across the startup ecosystem operating in the technology sector. With the cooperation of the Pearl Initiative and the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector in improving competitiveness and sustainability, the two organizations will stimulate positive change and pave the way for the establishment of a thriving and productive technology sector in the Gulf region.