(MENAFN Press) John Hope Bryant, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE participated in a panel discussion at the Jeddah Economic Forum, considered the "Davos of the Middle East." Mr. Bryant spoke during the main panel discussion about "Enabling links between investors and business."
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The three-day forum takes place at the Jeddah Hilton from March 18-20 with the theme "Growth through Youth." The goal is to find ways to enable economic growth and reduce youth unemployment levels with discussions centered on economic opportunities for young people, human capital and changes in the education curriculum, sustainability, long-term growth in job creation, and opportunities in the tourism and transportation industries.
Coinciding with the Global Money Week, a worldwide celebration for empowering youth, Mr. Bryant took the opportunity to highlight the importance of encouraging young people to be entrepreneurial and to take their place as full participants in the global economy.
"I think it is important we have substantive global forums and discussions like this, if for no other reason than to bring together key stakeholders and decision makers to discuss ways for empowering our youth," Mr. Bryant said. "Youth are literally the future of Saudi and the MENA region. The youth do not have to be seen as a problem in Saudi Arabia and the MENA region -- they can be seen through the lens of opportunity too. Saudi Arabia could simply decide to prioritize its youth population in a different way, a population which represents fully 60% of the country's total population. In so doing, they could in time become a model for the region. It is time for a positive movement in the region, and with that, to create an entirely new generation of entrepreneurs and jobs outside of government.
Mr. Bryant focused his remarks on his work to continue Dr. King's legacy work around poverty eradication and empowerment in the United States, called Project 5117. This includes HOPE's groundbreaking work around HOPE Business In A Box Academies, HOPE Inside and HOPE Inside Plus. All of which were well received by the audience.
The other panelists included:
Mr. Omar Ahmed Bahlaiwa
Secretary General - Committee for International Trade - Council of Saudi Chamber
H.E Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al Rabiah
KSA Minister of Trade & Industry
Mr. Mark Otty
EMEAI Chairman, EY
Dr. Said Al Shaikh
Group Chief Economist- NCB
Dr. Boutros Klink
CEO, Standard Chartered KSA
Mr. Claude Smadja
Founder & President Smadja & Smadja Strategic Advisory
Ms. Joanna Rees
Board Member - Endeavor Global
Mr. Edward Burton
CEO and President, U.S. Saudi Arabian Business Council
Earlier this week Mr. Bryant, served as the keynote speaker for the first annual Youth Financial Dignity Summit, "Money and Hopes" at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Saudi Arabia. The summit highlighted Riyali, SEDCO Holdings' award winning youth and college age financial literacy program, for which Operation HOPE is a partner.
Financial dignity nonprofit Operation HOPE has been dedicated to youth empowerment for 22 years, including Banking on Our Future and most recently through HOPE Business In A Box Academies, a curriculum that encourages the entrepreneurial spirit and organized economic energy of our youth. The program is tracked through the Gallup-HOPE Index, a partnership between HOPE and Gallup, a U.S. based data consulting/analytical firm. The Gallup-a HOPE Index is the first ever national index of youth economic energy.