It is not everyday people are given the opportunity to tell their stories or show future generations that no matter how tough life gets, persistence can and will get you there in the end. So, when someone who has found success after years of hardship speaks, the only option is to listen and learn.
Saudi Arabia has been fostering entrepreneurs and startups for years, but even more so since the launch of Vision 2030, and even further since the pandemic forced everyone to re-analyze their life choices. In fact, the global research association, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, revealed that Saudi Arabia’s entrepreneurial activity has risen 24% since 2019 alone.
Another 65% increase in business ownership has occurred over the last three years as over 90% (up from 76.3%) of the kingdom’s adults now prefer the path of entrepreneurship. The country itself is nurturing small businesses and their owners so energetically that it jumped up 10 spots on the global entrepreneurship index to reach 7th place at the end of 2021.
Long before Vision 2030 ever came to be, KSA was preparing for the future. In the year 2000, the country established the Human Resources Development Fund to empower the national workforce to ensure a more productive contribution to the kingdom’s future development and progress.
Speak, listen, and learn
On top of becoming one of the HRDF’s supporting partners for its Israr Awards (“جائزة الإصرار”, or “Persistence Awards”) initiative, TAM was handed the role of organizing the program in 2015. The initiative had been created with multiple purposes directed both internally, at the country’s youth, and externally, towards the world.
The HRDF was and is determined to instill persistence as a core value among Saudi youth by validating its position as a key element on the road to success. It also aims to motivate them by altering the belief that their efforts in searching for work are futile and entry-level jobs lead them nowhere.
“This is all about strength of character, guts, and determination during the struggle for success in an individual’s life. It might be a very small success in global, local or financial terms, but the award is about rewarding the candidate’s determination and not their achievements, to deliver a message to the Saudi youth that perseverance reaps rewards.” - Ibrahim Al-Moaiqel, Director General of the HRDF.
The initiative officially launched the moment registration doors were opened to the public. However, people cannot simply be expected to predict when a project begins accepting submissions, meaning TAM had to first work on informing them. The most natural way to do so in this digital era was to begin the publicization process with social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube), where both Saudi youth and the rest of the world congregate to share their lives.
For the Israr Awards, Twitter was able to capture the most impressive reach of 280 million, bringing the combined total reach of the four platforms to 335.5 million. That number was in part due to the social media influencers who attended the launch dinner, where they were introduced to the initiative with the goal of passing it along to their followers. This was then followed up by direct interaction with the public to motivate them to share their stories.
The campaign and marketing strategy could only be considered successful after approximately 11,300 people, from every province in the kingdom, came forward with their inspiring success stories. This was when the filtration process commenced as the team had to shrink the previous number down to just 150 submissions for the four available categories - male employees, female employees, male entrepreneurs, and female entrepreneurs.
The only way this task could be accomplished quickly and effectively was by using TAM’s dedicated filtration system which would categorize the submissions based on a pre-set criteria list. These 150 people would go on to conduct interviews, in their respective provinces, with judging panels made up of some of Saudi Arabia’s most affluent businesspeople.
Ensuing interviews would be the deciding factor for the 12 finalists to move on to the video production stage. What this stage was focused on was depicting these people’s stories using visual means to aid the audience and the final judging committee in their decisions and winning votes.
Once the 295,000+ votes rolled in, the top four finalists (the first in each category) were invited to attend the closing ceremony where the winner of the “Most Persistent” title would be announced by the Minister of Labor, Dr. Mufrej Al-Haqbani. Prior to the announcement however, the ceremony attendees feasted their eyes on a 3D mapping and Holo-Gauze projection of the many different phases and choices a person goes through in their life.
The submissions for this project have told of the difficulties these successful individuals have been through and how they overcame them. It has also proven how strongly Saudi people feel for the concept of persistence and perseverance, and how gladly they would share any lessons they learned along the way with future generations.