In the Arab world, an astonishing 60% of the entire population is twenty years old or younger. These youths want to contribute to building more stable and prosperous societies; however unemployment rates for them are the highest in the world and still rising in many cases. The average unemployment rate in Arab states is nearly 25% according to UN data, and is as high as 40% in some countries. Amid a broad spectrum of reform efforts aimed towards better governance, perhaps the most important and urgent issue is the need to offer the youth opportunities to share in shaping social, economic and political change. The recent political and social upheavals across the Middle East and North Africa have shown the power of the frustration felt by the region’s vast youth population in the face of stagnant economic opportunities.
A pan-Arab educational organization based in Amman, Jordan, Injaz al-Arab, aims to address this challenge by harnessing the mentorship of business leaders to help inspire a culture of entrepreneurialism and innovation. Spearheaded since 2004 by the energetic Soraya Salti, Injaz al-Arab has grown to reach more than 500,000 youths in thirteen countries, while simultaneously pioneering a program of public-private partnerships that has introduced over 10,000 corporate volunteers into public school classrooms. These volunteers have assisted in entrenching practical business-related skills and financial literacy as part of the regular educational curriculum, in addition to acting as mentors to students as they participate in linked initiatives like a regional business plan competition. From Injaz al-Arab’s current presence in 716 schools, Salti aims to grow the successful model further in order to reach one million youths on an annual basis; a welcome development in a region where 100 million graduates are expected to enter the job market in the next fifteen years.
INJAZ al-Arab takes a hands-on approach to helping young people understand the role of economics in their lives. It helps students gain insight into the complexities and rewards of entrepreneurship and business in today’s interdependent market economy. Successful local business leaders from over 800 Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) companies serve as classroom mentors to make economic concepts relevant, fuel entrepreneurship and challenge students to excel. INJAZ al-Arab is a member of Junior Achievement Worldwide, the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students and giving them a chance to become successful participants in the global economy.
Web site: http://www.injazalarab.org/en