We Are SPARTA!

Who’s not familiar with that blood-curdling cry before the hapless messenger gets kicked into the well to his death? Very few I think. That particular scene in the film 300 must now be one of the most popular in film history. That shout conjures up images of pride, determination and patriotism.

We are Sparta!To me, the word “entrepreneur” conjures up powerful images too. Positive and inspiring images of determination, direction, achievement and success. And you know what? I used to associate that word with others, not me. A small businessman is what I was comfortable with and if anyone identified me as an entrepreneur, I thought they were talking about someone else. But once I started to accept being an entrepreneur, magical things started to happen. Strange how simply changing the lens, changes reality.

The truth of the matter is that being an entrepreneur is within everyone’s reach, and that description needn’t even be specific to “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit” as the dictionary would have it, but I rather associate it with the act of answering a need and creating something useful, normally against objections or hurdles, thus, taking measured risks to make a difference. Financial gain is simply a byproduct of that success.

Looking back, I would have found success much sooner had I had mentors whose experience and expertise I could have benefitted from. I can count many instances where losses or failures could have been averted by having that much needed voice.

Now, it’s time for me to pay it forward. I’d like to have the opportunity to mentor young entrepreneurs and help them on their journey. Through my association with the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, there are several programs that will allow me to impart knowledge in a structured manner in order to project the value of mentorship even farther. The Global Student Entrepreneurship Award in particular is one program I’m quite interested in. I believe that through it I can leave a positive impact on my community. GSEA, incidentally, is an annual competition in which young entrepreneurs pitch their ideas and businesses in a competition format in front of EO members. These judges select winners based on defined EO-set criteria and the winner gets the opportunity to be sent to Washington, DC to compete in the global finals.

There are specific GSEA entry criteria of course; chief amongst them is for the competitor to be a current university student at the time of the global finals, have a business which has been continuously running for at least six months and that enterprise is for profit.

EO Bahrain is running GSEA this year – the first in the Middle East – and we’re accepting entries and nominations. Should we receive a good number of entries, a live pitching competition will take place by the 20th of October 2013.

Yes, we fully realise that time is extremely short; however, we’re determined to run it this year and to learn from the experience. We launched this initiative last month, in September. That gave us the opportunity to understand the some of intricacies of running such a program. We’re in this for the long haul though, hence, we intend to visit schools and universities almost immediately to encourage students to aim to compete in next year’s GSEA.

Why am I so passionate about this? Simple. Apart from the obvious benefit of having self-sufficient families and creating a better and more resilient economy, I truly believe that the best method to resolve our political problems is to grow an entrepreneurial middle class. I’m convinced that the thing that will resolve our political situation is a strong and vibrant business sector. It will also ensure that whatever solutions that are put in place will be sustainable.

Will this create our own cadre of Spartans? I don’t know. I do know that if one has something to lose, he’ll fight to keep it. Maybe if we create the platform for Bahrainis to really take ownership, they’ll fight to keep it. That’s probably one of the definitions of patriotism.

Now it’s your turn to help. Do you know anyone whom you could nominate to enter GSEA? Please visit http://gsea.org and fill in the form. If you need help or just want to pass on a name and number, please do feel free to contact me.