In July, Global Entrepreneurship Network Algeria (GEN Algeria) organized its first major event, Entrepreneurship Summer School Algeria, or ESSA. Entrepreneurship represents a new future for young Algerians living in a country that has a long history as a significant oil economy. Now, as the country comes to terms with a global reduction in the price of oil, there is a new untapped resource. Like other MENA countries, Algeria, with its population of nearly 40 million, has a large young demographic. While unemployment is high among young people, free education has produced a highly educated new generation.
GEN Algeria includes representatives of the constituencies and regions that make up Algeria’s wider entrepreneurial ecosystem. As a GEN country affiliate, it leads activities and programs aimed at fostering and supporting Algeria’s entrepreneurs. GEN country affiliates are found around the world – their ecosystem development strategies are planned in coordination with GEN Global, and their in-country programs and initiatives are informed by a diverse global network.
GEN Algeria is the nation’s newly formed organization that is part of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. For this pilot initiative, they invited students from 100 universities across the country to take part. Demand was overwhelming with 4,800 students gathering at the Houari Boumediene University of Sciences and Technology campus in Algiers. The five-day program included talks from experts, workshops, seminars and competitions. International speakers included Kiran Maverick, Olesea Solpan Fortuna, Jas Miine, Soumeya Rachedi, Fatiha Rachedi, Marc Ortmans, Marian Spier, Tanja Minja Kalezic, Mehdi Drissi, Adil Gherib and Kevin J. Langley.
Creating and building an entrepreneurial culture in this young community involves shifting mindsets toward innovation, and motivating the entrepreneurial spirit.
“Their enthusiasm and engagement was extraordinary – like I have never seen before even in the most developed economies,” said Marc Ortmans, founder of Ideaspace Global. “There was a palpable hunger to learn and absorb everything. The students were almost equally made up of men and women and demonstrated a collaborative and meritocratic approach in everything they did from discussion to mixed teams in competitions.”
ESSA revealed that there is a bright future for Algeria. The country’s millennials have exceptional talent, enthusiasm, and determination rarely seen elsewhere. A new reality is emerging, a tipping point where a new generation of entrepreneurs are ready to change the world.