Dubai: The calls of regional business leaders for a need to nurture youth entrepreneurship have been answered by the recent establishment of the UAE branch of the Kairos Society.
Kairos is a global network that brings undergraduate students together to collaborate in the solving of global issues through entrepreneurship. Affiliates and visitors to the society's annual summits include the likes of former US President Bill Clinton and Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft.
"There is no Kairos presence in the Middle East and I saw the UAE as a massive hub for entrepreneurship," said 21-year-old, Shehmir Shaikh, who is president of Kairos, UAE. "I feel the UAE has untapped potential and the entire society here can benefit from global connections through Kairos."
Shaikh is an economics and finance undergraduate student at New York University, but was born and raised in the UAE. He is currently in Dubai on an internship with a local private equity firm.
The Kairos society was founded by a student at Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, in 2008 but it was Shehmir who initiated its expansion to the GCC region. Shaikh spotted a void in the regional market and happily obliged to fill it, putting his entrepreneurial mind to work to illustrate the true essence of Kairos.
It has more than 700 global fellows across North America, Europe and Asia and hosts two annual global summits. The Kairos Global Summit is the organisation's largest event held in February in New York in partnership with the New York Stock Exchange and the United Nations. The Kairos European Summit is held in April in The Hague in partnership with the World Foresight Forum and The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. It is at such events Kairos fellows, or selected student members, have the opportunity to rub shoulders with global leaders and investors to gain funding for their business ideas.
"Once a student is accepted to become a fellow after the interview and application process they are then invited to come to the summits and network," said Shaikh. "We don't directly fund into business ventures as it is up to the fellows to utilise the environment we put them in to excel."
This principle rings true throughout the entire organisation, right up to its name as the word Kairos in ancient Greek means the opportune or supreme moment.
"We give students the incentive to create solutions to global problems and at the same time build their entrepreneurial skills around them."
Although acceptance into the Kairos Society is by invitation only, Shaikh lists himself as the first point of contact for interested undergraduates looking for fellowship.
Becoming a fellow
The characteristics of the ideal Kairos candidate, according to Shaikh, would be a dynamic person with confidence and the ability to think outside the box.
"Someone would want to join Kairos because they have a passion that drives them to take those extra steps and all they need is the right environment," he said. "Kairos provides students with a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem with access to people who change the world on a daily basis."