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Saudi Arabia first to back global startups under G20 $1 trillion funding call

Prince Fahad bin Mansour, center, poses with other G20 delegates during the Startup20 summit in Gurugram, India, on July 4, 2023. (Startup20)
Prince Fahad bin Mansour, center, poses with other G20 delegates during the Startup20 summit in Gurugram, India, on July 4, 2023. (Startup20)
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06 Jul 2023 12:07:40 GMT9
06 Jul 2023 12:07:40 GMT9
  • Startup20 summit by India’s G20 presidency was held in Gurugram this week
  • Prince Fahad bin Mansour Al-Saud is representing Saudi Arabia at Startup20

Sanjay Kumar

NEW DELHI: Saudi Arabia has become the first country to back a call for $1 trillion in annual investment into the global startup ecosystem from G20 countries during the Startup20 engagement group’s summit in India.

Startup20 is one of 11 official networking groups of the G20 largest economies. It was initiated under India’s G20 presidency this year and aims to help implement policies that support startups, entrepreneurs, and ecosystem builders for their sustainable growth in member countries. The engagement group is composed of representatives from all G20 countries. Saudi Arabia — the only Middle Eastern member of the group — is represented by Prince Fahad bin Mansour Al-Saud, the chair of the board of directors of the Saudi Entrepreneurship Vision.

At the beginning of the two-day summit in Gurugram, Startup20 Chairperson Dr. Chintan Vaishnav presented its communique, which urged G20 leaders to raise the joint annual investment in the global startup ecosystem from their nations to $1 trillion by 2030.

Prince Fahad was the first to answer the call for action.

“I can already foresee the impact and outcome that can be achieved from this fund. We can imagine it being an empowering platform that will not only invest, but also build an operating body tailored to the needs of the G20 startups that will assure having quality and well-governed startups that can grow sustainably,” he said in his summit speech.

“We are more than happy to open all the doors of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Startup20 to present this opportunity to the top investors in Saudi and showcase the top Saudi startup opportunities. We are ready to work on it starting today and hopefully become the first to commit.”

The announcement was hailed by the Startup20 chair, who underscored Saudi Arabia’s steadfast dedication to fostering global innovation and entrepreneurship.

“By pledging support for the $1 trillion funding milestone, Saudi Arabia sets a precedent for other nations to follow, demonstrating their commitment to driving a disruptive innovation ecosystem and propelling the economic growth,” Vaishnav said.

For Saudi Arabia, investment in new businesses is important as under Vision 2030, the Kingdom is seeking to create millions of new jobs and is encouraging small and medium enterprises to diversify its economy away from dependence on oil.

“That’s why Saudi Arabia is investing millions of dollars in tourism, in economy, sports, entertainment and any industry,” Faheem Al-Hamid, senior adviser to the Saudi G20 delegation, told Arab News.

The Saudi government has been undertaking significant initiatives to stimulate private sector growth and encourage investment in accordance with the objectives of Vision 2030.

Last year marked a turning point in those efforts, largely resulting from significant reforms in key economic sectors to unlock new markets and open avenues for investment.

“We have decided to enhance the startup scene … Among the G20 countries, Saudi Arabia’s funding has skyrocketed in 2022,” Al-Hamid said.

“Saudi Arabia’s startup ecosystem has grown in an unprecedented way from just a few SMEs prior to the launch of the Vision 2030 to the groundbreaking (proliferation) of startups in the last six years.”

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