On our eighth and last Flat6Labs StartSmart Webinar, we hosted Ferid Belhaj, Vice President of World Bank MENA, interviewed by Dina el-Shenoufy, Flat6Labs’ CIO to discuss World Bank’s response to COVID-19 globally and specifically in MENA. Ferid offered us his unique perspectives on how to tackle #COVID19, and how to create more opportunities for MENA startups. This is our full recap of the webinar.
“The world is a village”
Ferid said, one needs to find the right balance between squeezing out the best of the village that the world is becoming, and some of the possible negative aspects of this.
“Globalisation is fundamental”
Globalisation has helped us stay connected & work twice as much as we used to work from offices, and we need to push the globalisation of technology if a similar crisis ever comes to be, Ferid added.
“The World Bank has committed $160bn to MENA”
Since the crisis started, the World Bank committed $160bn to fast track financing facilities to help countries around the world to manage and deal with the health dimension of the crisis; to help the backbone of economies: SMEs; and to offer social protection for vulnerable people due to COVID-19.
“Young entrepreneurs who have ideas should move ahead & do them”
Young entrepreneurs in MENA need to have the ambition to go way beyond what they think is possible because new tech must spread everywhere, Ferid said. He also noted that the market will judge the entrepreneurs’ projects, and whether it can absorb their products or not. Entrepreneurs need to do what they feel will work, and see for themselves if it actually solves the problem.
“States in MENA need to be an enabler for startups”
“MENA needs to take care of itself,” Feird said. While we are trying to help countries, entrepreneurs and vulnerable families, states need to be the enabler that pushes everyone to do their best. States need to push out reforms that help startups. In some of Ferid’s talks with government officials from around MENA, they said that they are starting to recognise that they should have invested more in innovative solutions.
“Investment in new tech is never ever a lost investment”
Investors who have the resources and ability to invest in new technologies, need to be aware that it is their responsibility to help startups who are suffering because of the pandemic. They also need to be aware that an investment is never a lost investment, something will always come out of it; be it a new solution or a pivoted business model, something can always happen that can transform the way we live.
Make sure to join our upcoming Flat6Labs Cairo Spring 2020 Demo Day, June 24th. For more information and to register, click here.