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Introducing YPO Kuwait

The Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region is an economic hub and international melting pot that quite simply bustles with innovators, start-ups and established global businesses; and, YPO MENA is no exception as it continues to grow from strength to strength. We chatted to YPO members, Nadia Akil, Lokesh Malhotra, Abdul Aziz Al-Yaqout and Faisal Al Hamad, who helped to pioneer YPO Kuwait.

Q: The new YPO Kuwait Chapter promises to be a vibrant addition to the YPO MENA Region, what inspired you to revitalize YPO’s presence here? 

Lokesh: My journey with YPO has been phenomenal. I have experienced the benefits of learning, networks, trust and the exchange of ideas. When I say that I am a YPO member, it has not only opened doors, but the hearts of people who have warmly welcomed me. I want potential members in Kuwait to have access to all the benefits that YPO offers and to experience the tremendous value of all the amazing opportunities, such as travel, sports and business connection, while at the same time enjoying the geographical independence afforded by a local chapter.

It takes a lot of hard work, commitment and vision to establish a chapter, what was the genesis of the idea?  

Lokesh: The journey to revitalize YPO’s presence in Kuwait began at an informal dinner in September 2016, where we were encouraged to do so by fellow YPOer, Dinesh Shahani, who was instrumental in re-energizing YPO in Russia. Dinesh has been very generous with his time in mentoring us and providing the support we needed to launch the chapter.

What unique qualities will a strong Kuwaiti chapter add to YPO MENA?

Nadia: A strong, quality local chapter was long overdue, as the lack of a formal, professional platform in Kuwait made it a bit challenging to set up events, but through informal events st up by YPOers, there was a lot of interest from high-calibre professionals in Kuwait for the opportunity to join YPO. Our chapter will convene a unique set of professionals with an international outlook, and add to an already culturally diverse organization. A strong Kuwaiti chapter will be beneficial to both the MENA Region and YPO as a whole, as it will tap into the Kuwait market and open doors to a wide network, which may previously have been harder to access. 

What is the benefit of having a strong local YPO chapter for Kuwaiti business leaders?

Faisal: A strong local chapter will provide members and spouses/partners with a forum to increase learning and engagement through speaker series, community events, and a transfer of knowledge from the broader YPO community to the local chapter.

Do you recommend that young leaders and innovators join YPO Kuwait and why?

Aziz: It is essential that young leaders and innovators join YPO Kuwait. They are the ones that will have the greatest impact on society by benefiting from the learning experience and the transfer of knowledge that YPO delivers. Kuwait has a vibrant entrepreneurial community, and this entrepreneurial spirit that will make a positive impact on our chapter.

What are the main industries and business sectors in Kuwait?

Aziz: Kuwait is an oil-producing country and the majority of its income is generated by the oil sector, which is government controlled. The main industry in the private sector is the financial sector, while retail, food processing and the production of construction materials are also prominent sectors. In the last few years, there has been a significant rise in entrepreneurship and small business start-ups.

This development has been enhanced by the establishment of a USD 6 billion National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises. The focus of this fund is on SME’s in the media, technology, and oil & gas sectors.

What are the top five aspects of Kuwait that you love?

Faisal: Kuwait is unique in my mind for its international outlook combined with local values, warmth of culture, a history of progression, the mix of diaspora, and its entrepreneurial spirit. For all these reasons, our YPO peers from other regions should visit.

Clearly, YPO Kuwaiti will bring diversity to the region, and provide local business leaders with access to high- quality events and to the broader YPO community.