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March 17 2014

Youth Financial Dignity Summit Inspires Youth to Build Business

Financial dignity nonprofit Operation HOPE joins SEDCO Holding to promote financial empowerment summit

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia – March 17 2014 – SEDCO Holding, in partnership with Operation HOPE, hosted the first annual Youth Financial Dignity Summit under the banner of “Money and Hopes” on Monday (March 17, 2014) at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI). The summit was under SEDCO Holding’s Riyali Financial Literacy Program.

The event coincided with the Global Money Week (March 10-17, 2014) – a worldwide celebration empowering children to be confident, responsible and skilled economic citizens in 117 countries.

Speakers from both the Saudi private and government sectors presented topics and discussed benefits of financial literacy at a young age. Workshops were also conducted to further drive home the value of the summit to both the individuals and the nation’s economy as a whole.

According to the latest poll conducted by the Riyali Financial Literacy Program of 1,000 youth, some 50% of those surveyed believe that workshops and guest speaker rounds are the best ways to learn financial skills needed to start and run a business, yet they are not aware of any local resources that provide such knowledge.

The survey also noted that though 38% believe that preparing a business plan is the first thing that they will do to start their own business, yet 62% don’t possess adequate financial knowledge to write a business plan.

Moreover, 50% of respondents believe that the biggest challenge they will face if they decide to start their own business is financial.

What’s more, 15% want to start their own business after graduation, nonetheless, they don’t have the financial knowledge required to prepare a business plan and forecast their business.

Finally, 56% expressed a desire to partner with someone, or to burrow from their savings in order to start their own business, while only 17% explained that they would obtain a bank loan to raise the funds.

The summit drew the active participation of senior SEDCO officials, along with Founder, Chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE John Hope Bryant, and other Saudi financial luminaries including Dr. Fuad Merdad, deputy director of Research Endowment Fund at King Abdulaziz University, Dr. Naif Mutawa’a, a globally recognized social entrepreneur and Thamer Al Fatooshi.

Anees Moumina, SEDCO Holding Group CEO, said, “Riyali is a SEDCO Holdings initiative in line with the Capital Markets Authority" ,which has achieved great success in a brief period of time, is the first of several Initiatives within the efforts of the Capital Market Authority aimed at educating the community on financial literacy.” 

Dr. Merdad spoke about the Research Endowment Fund’s importance in the development and support of research projects and funding of scientific studies and applied research and programs that serve the community and address economic, scientific, social and health problems and at the same time contribute to its development.

He explained that the Fund includes a number of training courses with Riyali’s Financial Literacy Program at the forefront aimed at raising students’ awareness on the basics of planning a personal budget, achieving financial independence through effective budgeting schemes that lead to a good life without financial worries.

Amr Banaja, VP of marketing and corporate communications at SEDCO Holding Group, stressed the fact that financial literacy is a global issue with the governments, NGOs and central banks taking the appropriate actions.  Noting that the Global Money Week is a good platform to raise the awareness of financial literacy, he added that the movement fosters readiness among youth, creates the next entrepreneurs and helps create investment opportunities, too. “This is important for the Saudi economy given our current strong dependence on government jobs and the number of youth entering the labor market that need to become financially independent,” he further said.

Dr. Kamal Abdeulaal, commenting on his topic “Riyali Program Launch and Prospects”, confirmed that the program is one of SEDCO Holding’s most important CSR programs. It aims to enrich financial literacy awareness for the Saudi community, as it introduces tools to youth to better manage and plan their finances. It also aimed to improve their financial skills and further increase their knowledge that will enable them to handle their responsibilities.”

He also said the program succeeded in spreading financial literacy between students in universities in its first stage and then to kids during its second stage which was conducted through coordination with the Ministry of Education. It produced positive results and had a great impact, he added. And to have a wider mainstream affect, the program was incorporated in the social media, backed by an application for hand-held devices. Moreover, he said other methods are adopted to expand the program’s community reach.

Bryant,  underscored the importance of asserting financial dignity and literacy at the global level in order to contribute to the creation of economic growth, pointing out that "Operation HOPE" has for more than 20 years has worked to empower the underserved through free financial literacy programs. “This contributed to the spread of financial literacy culture and success across segments of society.”

Naif Al-Mutawa spoke about doing well by doing good. He recounted the 4 entrepreneurial journeys that he had experienced:

(1) A series of children’s books that promote tolerance that won an award form UNESCO.

(2) An award winning global television franchise called The 99 that has changed how Islam is being perceived globally.

(3) Soor Center, the largest private mental health clinic in the Middle East that was started to challenge the laws in Kuwait.

(4) Terkeez, a brain training center, meant to deal with the underlying causes of kids’ inability to focus by taking the focus off of the subjects and putting focus on the underlying mechanisms of the brain.

He also shared his other life odysseys like raising capital, formulating business models, creating jobs and making social impact. The businesses he launched have created over 1,000 jobs on four continents and have been globally recognized by the UN, the World Economic Forum and even the world leaders.

Thamer Al-Farshooti showcased his success story after he left his job in the Air Force and worked in a hotel and then opened an Internet cafe where he faced numerous losses including having had to sell his car, leaving him only SR300 which he used to begin his successful career as a businessman.

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About Riyali:

“Riyali”, SEDCO Holding’s Financial Literacy Program, was launched in 2012 and aims to familiarize members of the community with financial planning and management in order to meet their personal financial responsibilities. “Riyali” aims to educate kids and Saudi youth on financial concepts such as planning, budgeting, saving, investing and borrowing in order to empower them with the personal financial skills required to achieve a desirable standard of living. The program most recently won the Makkah Award for Excellence in 2012.

About SEDCO Holding:

Founded in 1976 by the Bin Mahfouz family, one of the leading banking families in Saudi Arabia, SEDCO has become recognized as a leading Shari’ah-compliant organization, responsible for a diverse spectrum of operating companies in industries such as, real estate development and management, travel and tourism, hospitality, automobile leasing and casual dining, in addition to managing private and public equity holdings in Saudi Arabia and around the world. SEDCO Holding was established to consolidate the various business activities of SEDCO in which the wealth of the Bin Mahfouz family is invested.

SEDCO Holding applies the highest standards of corporate governance in accordance with by-laws of international standards that ensure the longevity and growth of the business. Based in Jeddah, SEDCO Holding is headed by a board of directors comprised of eight members, five of which are from outside the family and are chosen from prominent local and international experts.

SEDCO Holding is dedicated to responsible and ethical corporate practices through strong leadership and strategies that have enhanced SEDCO’s position as a prominent Saudi group with global investments.

SEDCO Holding is committed to supporting the welfare and development of individuals and communities across Saudi Arabia and invests in a range of corporate social responsibility activities, recognizing that business success brings a responsibility to contribute to the advancing economic and social development of communities where it has a presence.

SEDCO’s social responsibility efforts focus on serving its employees, the sectors it operates in, the environment, and the broader community.  More information at www.sedco.com

About Operation HOPE, Inc.

Founded in 1992 and headquartered in Los Angeles, Operation HOPE promotes financial dignity through the delivery of financial inclusion and education tools to underserved communities. Through its three core divisions and HOPE Financial Dignity Forum, the organization has provided youth and adult financial literacy, economic preparedness, digital empowerment, promoted home ownership, and assisted with foreclosure prevention to more than 2 million individuals, families, and small business owners. HOPE's next phase will be focused on Project 5117, a multi-year initiative that will track and increase business role models for youth, boost credit scores for adults, and empower underserved communities. To learn how you can join Project 5117, go to www.operationhope.org/p5117mission  or visit www.operationhope.org  to learn more.