Faculty & Leadership Blog / Faculty in the News

Diane Mulcahy Talks Entrepreneurship In Saudi Arabia

I left Riyadh just in time to avoid the flooding there, and am now in Jeddah on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. Earlier this week I spoke to an audience of men and women students and faculty at the College of Business Administration (CBA) here in Jeddah.

After my talk on business and social entrepreneurship, there were a lot of questions around the nature of entrepreneurship – are entrepreneurs born or made? What are the most important skills for an entrepreneur? Is creativity the most important characteristic for an entrepreneur? Many other questions focused on the specifics around starting a business venture. The audience wanted to know the best way to find a good business idea, how to deal with “copycat” businesses that emerge as competition, and how to find good mentors.

The entrepreneurial economy is at a nascent stage in Saudi Arabia, so the basic frameworks around developing and evaluating ideas, and starting and growing a business, are still very new. Several colleges and business schools, including CBA, are just beginning to introduce an entrepreneurship curriculum and encourage students to think about starting their own businesses. But the platforms and programs common at Babson that encourage students to experiment with new business ideas, such as business plan competitions, rocket pitch events, and the summer venture program, do not yet exist here, so the leap to start a new venture here can feel formidable.

After the Q&A I met with the Dean of the Girls Campus to talk about her ideas on curriculum, programs, and job opportunities for women. She has plans to develop summer internships to help her students gain work experience, and she’s looking into the idea of a seed fund to finance student ventures while they’re still in college. She’s very focused on looking for initiatives and curriculum that will make students more successful at starting their own businesses, and make that leap to entrepreneurship a little easier for them to take.

Diane Mulcahy