Country & City Insights

MENA entrepreneurs should construct a talent pipeline between their companies and local universities

Endeavor Insight releases a new report, “How to Capitalize on Human Capital in MENA”.

Universities are often the birthplace of innovation and play a critical role in supporting entrepreneurship. They develop new technologies, train workforces, and can even incubate new companies and entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have struggled to capture the benefits of close relationships with universities. Not only are top universities scarce in the region, but entrepreneurs have also failed to build comprehensive recruiting pipelines to hire qualified graduates. Doing so will help MENA entrepreneurs begin to solve their own human capital needs, and may enable them to change attitudes about education across the region.

The number of MENA firms that identify an inadequately-educated workforce as a major constraint, at 38.8% percent, is nearly three times higher than in high-income countries, according to the International Finance Corporation. Tertiary institutions in MENA also produce two-thirds fewer college graduates as high-income countries as a proportion of population. Particularly in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Turkey, where educational outcomes are weakest, entrepreneurs need to think creatively to capture top students and help universities teach the skills young people need to contribute to high-impact entrepreneurs and their companies.

Overcoming the MENA region’s human capital barriers will be difficult, but by developing relationships with universities, entrepreneurs can not only staff their companies, but also initiate a conversation about how best to improve the educational system to meet the economy’s needs. Endeavor Insight interviewed a sample of MENA entrepreneurs, and found that only 50 percent of these entrepreneurs have an internship program in place with local universities. Regionally, thousands of entrepreneurs are missing out on a low-cost opportunity to work with and recruit top-graduates before hiring them full-time. Building stronger links between higher education and the business community will induce a positive feedback loop. Businesses will hire top graduates and, in turn, universities will develop the curricula necessary to ensure that the next cohort of graduates is entrepreneur-ready.

For more information on building talent pipelines with universities and other strategies for improving human capital within MENA companies, please read the full report here.

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