Learning from the Best: MENA Start-Ups Talk Leadership
For MENA startups, success is all about creating the right environment for employees.
Bahaa Galal, Co-Founder & CTO of Crowd Analyzer, an Egyptian-based Arabic-language-focused social media monitoring platform, says playing in the office helps create the right mood for employees, but so too is ensuring employees are involved in helping shape the development of products and services.
For Reem Haj Ali, CEO of DoctorUna, a Dubai-based online doctor referral service, said the right work environment for employees must “not confine human beings into a solid framework.”
Loai Labani, CEO of Innosoft, a Saudi-based think-tank, highlighted the point that a key HR challenge is creating the right environment for employees.
These three young startup leaders were speaking as part of a GE-hosted gathering of six startups from across the MENA region designed to share experiences and best practices, and demonstrate how collaboration across organizations of all sizes can breed success. During the event, several conversations were held on different topics with a mix of leaders from these organizations.
Their words are especially important given that these startups are operating at the heart of the innovation crossroad. Their fresh approaches exemplify what it takes to thrive in this world of change and disruption.
From finding new ways for startups and corporates to work together, to inspiring your staff, to allowing employees to fail, in their discussion they convey that new ways are required to help organizations succeed. And a lot of this comes down to leadership qualities, leadership styles and leadership skills.
Reem says developing young leaders and employees requires investing in education, but also empowering and guiding them in the workplace. Perhaps most of all, she said it’s crucial for leaders of all ages to listen to these young people. “You can learn a lot from them,” she says.
Bahaa makes the point that investing in a company’s young leaders includes trusting them, even enough to let them fail, since so much can be learned from failure. Loai adds that the critical element for any success, as an employee or a company, is to “believe in something and work hard to make it successful.”
All three agree that there are tremendous opportunities for startups, SMEs and large enterprises to work together. While some large corporates might hesitate to work with startups and SMEs, there are several platforms to bridge that gap through organizations such as Wamda. Ultimately, they are optimistic that collaboration will thrive, since firms large and small are part of one ecosystem and can work together for collective benefit.
GE is a strong supporter of the region’s startups and SMEs. This includes supporting regional programs to develop these companies – such as Wamda and its MEMakers website and the Sylabs co-working space in Algeria. It also comes through collaboration through its growing regional supply chain that supports GE regional manufacturing and maintenance facilities in countries such as Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.