Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Young Businessmen in Syria Can't Alone Make it Happen

There's a nice article in the National M Magazine: "The young Syrian businessmen making it happen". The lead photo is of Abdulsalam Haykal, the brother of our fellow blogger Ayman, the proprietor of the 'Damascene Blog', a pioneer in the Syrian blog-sphere.

First of all I'm very proud of what Abdulsalam and his fellow businessmen managed to achieve in the past few years since the economy in Syria had opened a little. It's certainly a far cry from the textile trading businessmen in Aleppo, who still keep their accounts in ledgers instead of excel spreadsheets.

But, it's also important to note (and in fairness to the article, this has been focused on too), that real entrepreneurial economy doesn't only rely on old family businesses and networks.

And second, one would have loved to see more women entering this arena. Out of the several young and well-educated businessmen, only one woman was quoted in the article.

It's highly commendable that Abdulsalam is aware of this is helping his fellow start-up businessmen who are at disadvantage (i.e. do not have family ties), to set up their own businesses:
That is why he and others like him are using their power to help entrepreneurs who aren’t so fortunate. The Syrian Young Entrepreneurs Association (SYEA) was set up by Haykal and other young businessmen to give grants and business advice. Another, Bidaya, which means “beginning” in Arabic, funds 18- to 35 year-olds from low-income backgrounds. With this support, young people have had more opportunities to start small businesses. Enas Essa, for example, is a 32-year-old founder of an audiobook business. Mouayad Hamoudeh, 22, started his own dental implements business in a relatively poor area on the outskirts of Damascus.

However, in the greater scheme of things, this is not enough. There must be an institutional mechanism of assisting aspiring entrepreneurs . I'm not usually fond of cliches, but, modernizing the economy while the ancient mores about the indispensability of power and family connections still dominate, will not help much. You probably already guessed what I'm trying to say here, the key word is government intervention.

Off my soap box, have a nice day all.

Photo credit: The National


DK said...

Well stated. Also, you get serious bonus points for both pointing out the deficit of women in business and proper use of the word "mores." (Hot, my friend. Hot.)

Sarah said...

You're right to point out that entrepreneurship requires making sometimes besides personal relationships the fulcrum around which business turns...but I'm not too optimistic that the Syrian government is gonna be able to get off the wasta drug quickly, either, and it may not be the best agent to help businesspeople do so.

Yazan said...

I am only just starting to take the first step away from the instinctive unease we've learned to associate with money in Syria. An unease that could be easily traced back to our long tradition of collusion between political power and money.

Individual steps might be taken, and they're commendable, but the first and most important one is to dissolve this link once and for all. And, I can't see that happening any time soon.

Good to have you back DJ!

Dubai Jazz said...


Thanks! I chanced it, to be honest. But felt nothing could serve the meaning better than 'mores'.

Dubai Jazz said...


You're right. It's not going to be easy. But I'm usually in favor of government intervention in economy (at least in a regulatory capacity).

Dubai Jazz said...


The connection between power and money is as old as the first telltales of bourgeoisie, but that's a politically charged term and not many people would feel comfortable talking about it.