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Jordan, Canada should cooperate to foster young entrepreneurs — Johnston

By Dana Al Emam - Oct 30,2016 - Last updated at Oct 30,2016

AMMAN — Despite the geographical distance, Jordan and Canada should enhance cooperation to support young entrepreneurs, Canada’s Governor General David Johnston said on Sunday.

The two countries share an interest in fostering innovation, improving competitiveness and developing societies, he said, noting that entrepreneurs are the ones to help their countries realise these goals.

Speaking during a visit to the Business Development Centre (BDC), Johnston said that Canada is home to a vibrant start-up community that receives support and encouragement to innovate ways of “doing things better” in the fields of technology and business, as well as socially.  

He commended the BDC as a platform that supports entrepreneurs, adding that bolstering  start-ups and nurturing young entrepreneurs build the economy and stimulates growth.  

The two nations can enhance economic growth through deeper partnerships and more cooperation, Johnston said.

Canada’s free trade agreement with Jordan, Ottawa’s first with an Arab country, has almost doubled bilateral trade since it was signed in 2012, the governor general added. 

Meanwhile, Nayef Stetieh, BDC founder and CEO and president of the Jordanian-Canadian Business Association, highlighted the centre’s role in supporting young and women entrepreneurs.

With the partnership and support of Global Affairs Canada, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Higher Education and Balqa Applied University, the BDC has equipped over 10,000 young people with entrepreneurship skills and the tools to start their own businesses, he said.

These training opportunities enable young entrepreneurs to start their journey of creating income-generating businesses, Stetieh said, adding that the centre is reaching out to governorates for more comprehensive development efforts. 

Johnston was briefed on the BDC’s SANAD Entrepreneurship and Employment Programme, which is supported by Global Affairs Canada, and he met with vocational and community college graduates and programme instructors.

The Canadian official toured the BDC’s entrepreneurship exhibition, which showcased innovative products developed by Jordanian micro and small enterprises, as well as start-ups. 

SANAD seeks to bridge the gap between educational outputs and the labour market’s needs by incorporating an entrepreneurial curriculum into vocational schools and community colleges. 

Speaking at a panel discussion on opportunities and challenges for youth entrepreneurship in Jordan, Abdullah Snobar, executive director of the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University in Toronto, said Jordan has witnessed growth in business incubators and accelerators over the past few years.

While universities have started to incorporate programmes that boost entrepreneurship, further support should be given to women entrepreneurs and others working in the ICT sector, he said.

Zeid Husban, co-founder and CEO of cloud-venture POSRocket, said the government’s recent tax incentives to the ICT sector would further encourage small businesses.

He added that such incentives encourage entrepreneurs to keep their headquarters in Jordan even if they branch out to other countries. 

Expressing the Canadian point of view, Victoria Lennox, co-founder and CEO of Startup Canada, said that for a country like Canada with a large population, the goal is building a nation of entrepreneurs who innovate solutions for problems in all sectors.

 

She cited local networks among entrepreneurs and strong governmental support as two key success factors, adding that Canadian universities currently run programmes to encourage student-entrepreneurs.

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