iSolarWorkx is a MIT Entrepreneur Forum Pan – Arab Semi – Finalist from UAE and a finalist in the Al Bayt Mitwahid – Innovate for Society Competition. In a nutshell, “iSolarworkx” is innovating the entertainment industry. They design and manufacture renewable energy DIY kits to help school pupils understand science in a way that is fun, educational and interactive. In an interview with BarakaBits, iSolarWorkx talks about what they are and how this competition has helped them.
Who inspires you in the Arab world?
Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum has managed to make something out of nothing. In a very short period of time. And with huge challenges too, what with the 2008 recession. He led Dubai through that. Also when people look at Dubai and think what did he do? How did he do it? He is my one role model on the Macro side.
On the Micro side there is Fadi Ghandour founder of Aramex. He is one of those people who came up with a company and was able to take it through to the international stock market, which is not an easy process. And then brought it back to become a private company in 2002. It then once again went public on Dubai Financial Market in 2005. He also started Wamda Capital and is not yet ready to retire. He says entrepreneurship is the way forward; I am inclined to believe him.
Why did you apply for this competition?
MIT is the most prestigious in the region. You meet very successful and very like-minded enterprises who have done well, who want to do well, who have solid ideas and some of them want to make a big difference in the region which is why I think it is a good to be participating in this competition. You can learn so much from these people.
In your opinion what are some of the benefits of such competitions in the region?
Awareness. Recognition. And media. Media is heavily associated with MIT, so people are aware of what is happening. Media follows the progress of these companies. Also raising funds. there are so many venture capitalists (VC’s) in this competition that know that these companies are the best in the region. The VC’s then go to them, meet them. And if the VC’s like what the entrepreneurs do, they invest. So it becomes fundamental since this encourages potential individuals and young companies with fresh ideas.
In what sector would you like to see improvement in the Middle East?
Education. I think education is the biggest challenge that we have. Some countries sadly have a very high rate of illiteracy. That is serious. In the 21st century, when a large percentage of people in a country are illiterate. It is a very serious problem. It has a knock on effect on everything. On society, to being approved, to opportunities, to employment, to competition with the rest of the region, to competition with the rest of the world. Education is a top priority as far as I am concerned.
Any tips for those who may want to participate in similar competition in the future?
You need to really believe in what you do. You need to work very hard and be consistent. It is important to direct resources especially money on the right channels in order to reach certain short term goals and mid-term goals. So it can take you to the next mile-stone.