2010 Ranking of Fastest-Growing Saudi Businesses Indicates Bright Entrepreneurial Future

Companies create over 19,000 new jobs

Jan 26, 2010, 10:53 ET from AllWorld Network

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- The second annual list of Saudi Arabia's fastest growing emerging businesses, released last night at an Awards Gala at SAGIA's 4th Annual Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh, reveals a diverse array of robust companies, the majority founded by entrepreneurs, male and female, who are young and aggressive. They also show that entrepreneurship in the Kingdom is surging.  They are growing fast and expect to accelerate the pace, expanding nationally and throughout the Middle East. Saudi Fast Growth 100 winners all have a track record of extraordinary revenue growth, while accounting for the creation of thousands of new jobs.

The Saudi Fast Growth 100 is national program to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in Saudi Arabia that ranks the fastest-growing emerging companies in the Kingdom.  The list was created by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority's (SAGIA) National Competitiveness Center with joint founding partners Al-Watan newspaper and AllWorld Network.  Joining the initiative, as Strategic Partners are the National Commercial Bank, Sukoon International, Siraj Capital and Phenomenal PR.

"Compiling the Saudi Fast Growth 100 list led us to several encouraging conclusions," said His Excellency Governor Amr Al-Dabbah, SAGIA's Governor. "The dynamism of the applicants demonstrated clearly that Saudi Arabia is creating a business climate that supports and rewards innovation and entrepreneurial initiative. This vital group of emerging growth companies provides the oxygen of the economy. The winners of the Saudi Fast Growth 100 list will be the guides to our future.  These trail-blazers will be the most potent signal that Saudi Arabia is a dynamic economy full of creativity and opportunity."

AllWorld Network and Harvard Business School Professor Porter (AllWorld's Chairman) have created similar rankings of fast growth emerging companies in the US and the UK.  "The Saudi Fast Growth 100 companies, led by dynamic men and women, represent the leading edge of a new approach to Saudi Arabia's competitiveness," says Harvard Professor Michael Porter. "These companies have already created more than 19,000 jobs and their ambition is to keep growing."

A survey of Saudi Fast Growth 100 CEOs outlined a picture of business dynamism and CEO optimism.  The analysis provides many fascinating insights into the Kingdom's entrepreneurial economy.

During the five-year period measured (2004 – 2008), 45 Saudi Fast Growth 100 companies responding to the survey created more created 19,000 jobs since they were founded, of which 11,000 were created in the last five years.  The companies grew at a 41-percent average compound annual growth rate, with revenues ranging from SAR 4 million to SAR 1 billion.

The average age of company CEOs at start-up was 33 years and many of them have formed three or more companies.  The highest concentration of companies is in High Tech and Telecommunications followed by Health & Education, Public Relations, Media & Publishing, and Construction & Engineering.  

Moreover, while evidence suggests a culture of what analysts describe as "opportunity seeking," the process is based on solid business fundamentals. Close to 90 percent of the businesses formed by the Saudi Fast Growth 100 CEOs are still in operation.  A majority of survey respondents indicated that growth plans over the next few years included acquisitions, initial public offerings, and expansion throughout the Middle East and beyond.

"This is one of the hottest entrepreneurial environments in the world with high rates of successful start ups.  A generation of sophisticated entrepreneurs is emerging to fill the market gaps created by the Kingdom's large companies and government," stated Anne S. Habiby, one of the co-founders of AllWorld.  "The majority of Saudi Fast Growth 100 entrepreneurs have started more than one company, and the majority plan to establish another company in the next two years.  The conditions are right and the evidence confirms that entrepreneurship is surging in the Kingdom."

The findings establish the Saudi Fast Growth 100 as a new benchmark for the country, and one that meets international benchmarks of US and European entrepreneurial competitiveness.

While the survey results are generally positive, they also reveal obstacles impeding business development and growth. Respondents cited difficulty accessing growth capital and excessive government regulations as serious impediments. Also cited was the need for skilled workers and the absence of a program for training needed employees.

"The problems cited are clearly serious, but the good news is they can be corrected," said Deirdre Coyle, co-founder with Habiby of AllWorld. "The paucity of start-up capital, surveys indicate, is due in part to the lack of information about Saudi businesses and the country's business climate. With regard to human capital, there is general recognition of the need and the benefits of building a deep, skilled labor pool. Plans are in development."

Saudi Fast Growth 100 is playing a critical market-making role bringing to light examples of entrepreneurial success.  As these emerging companies and emerging industries become known, new entrepreneurs will be inspired to build companies and capital markets will form to support them.

To see a complete list of the 2010 Saudi Fast Growth 100 companies, please go to www.saudifastgrowth100.com.

About AllWorld Network

www.allworldlive.com

AllWorld's mission is to find and accelerate all the scalable growth businesses in the emerging world by 2012.  A decade ago, the co-founders of AllWorld Network – Deirdre M Coyle and Anne S. Habiby -- joined forces with Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter and Inc. magazine to create the US Inner City 100 list, looking for competitive entrepreneurs where no one thought they existed – in America's economically distressed inner cities.  In that first year, only 120 companies entered the competition.  But by 2008, there were 10,000 companies vying to be on the Inner City 100 list.  Companies have to be privately held and each one competes for a spot based on its sales growth over the past five years.  The Inner City 100 became an American phenomenon and its own engine of growth.  In 2001 the UK's then-Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, asked the team to create a UK Inner City 100 with the Financial Times in 2001.  In 2007, Coyle and Habiby established AllWorld Network to take this model global.  They began in Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority.  The inaugural Saudi Fast Growth 100 winners were announced at the 2009 Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh.  

Building on the success of the Saudi 100, AllWorld launched the South Africa Fast Growth 100 in November 2009, and in 2010 will launch the Arabia 500 and the Africa 500. 

AllWorld looks for growth companies that are creating the next economy of ideas, jobs and industries and puts them on the global radar screen. With market visibility, these companies of 25 or 200 employees are able to scale up by attracting world-class capital, talent, partners and opportunities.  Without it, the growth of emerging countries is suppressed.

In the 21st century, AllWorld believes media is the underleveraged asset for growth.  AllWorld calls this Visibility Economics™.  

Related Links:

Saudi Fast Growth 100

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Contact: Deirdre M. Coyle, Jr.

dcoylejr@allworldlive.com

KSA mobile: +966 54247 6365

USA mobile: +617 504 4547


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