Riyadh, 2 March 2020

  • Saudi Y20 team to bring the voices of young people to the G20.
  • Launch event brought young people together with government and UN officials.
  • In a Y20 first, a ‘Y20 Community’ will be built for grass roots engagement and to channel
  • ideas to the top table of international diplomacy.

Riyadh, 2 March 2020 – The Misk Foundation, in partnership with Ithra, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, yesterday launched Y20 at an evening event at its Riyadh headquarters attended by young leaders, UN and government officials, and the Kingdom’s G20 Sherpa. 

The Y20 is the most influential international diplomatic forum for young leaders, and the only officially recognised platform for young people to engage with the wider G20. It is one of eight official engagements under the G20 umbrella. 

At the inception day, the Y20 team set out its plans to make the Y20 an active and impactful channel between young leaders and the leadership of the G20 throughout the year. 

Saudi Arabia’s Y20 team have chosen to focus their activities around three key themes that complement the broader G20 goals: 

Future fit – preparing for the future of work and entrepreneurship; Empowerment – developing agile and dynamic future leaders; and Global citizens – promoting proactive, culturally sensitive problem solvers. 


The Y20 team also announced plans for a youth-led network, comprising young delegates from G20 countries and stakeholders from the private sector, academia and civil society, to develop a series of policy recommendations – to be delivered in the form of a communiqué – for consideration, approval and activation at the G20 heads of state summit. 

They explained how these discussions will be informed by new research by Misk and actionable White Papers developed with knowledge partners as well as a new database, planned as Saudi Y20’s legacy contribution to future Y20s. 

The inception event began with a ‘fireside’ discussion between the Executive Director of UNICEF, Ms Henrietta Fore, and young attendees. They discussed how young people can shape a better future, and the support UNICEF was investing into the youth of today. 

In her welcome remarks, Sarah Alkhedheiri, the Y20 Sherpa and Initiatives Manager at the Misk Foundation, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for young people to engage with global leaders on the most pressing issues of our time, and also to engage with each other as responsible global citizens. I’m calling on young people, wherever you are, to get involved: The Y20’s now open. World leaders are ready to listen, it’s now up to us, our delegates, and young people around the world to speak up and make their ideas heard.” 

Building on these themes, Othman Almoamar, Y20 Chair, and Research Manager at the Misk Foundation, said: “Young people are an important demographic – they account for 50% of the world’s population, about 90% of whom live in developing countries. And while research that we have done at Misk points to youth being optimistic in general, they still face challenges in the education, employment, and global citizenship domains. In 2020 the G20 priority areas coincide with these challenges and they are working to address some of the most pressing issues faced today. At the Y20, we will bring young people’s voice from G20 countries and beyond to ensure that their ideas, solutions, and ambition are delivered to the G20.” 

The evening’s keynote speeches by H.E. Fahad Almubarak, Saudi Arabia’s G20 Sherpa; Ms Henrietta Fore of UNICEF; and Mr Toily Kurbanov, Deputy Executive Coordinator of UN Volunteers, showed how Y20 is already bringing the voices of young people to the top table of international decision-making. 

Saudi Arabia’s G20 Sherpa, H.E. Fahad Almubarak, set out the importance with which the G20 regards the Y20 this year. Dr Almubarak said: “Meeting the Y20 cohort and hearing the solutions to 21st century challenges remains a highlight of any G20 presidency. In 2020, the Saudi G20 presidency is committed to engage with a broad range of civil society representatives.” 

Dr Almubarak spoke about how the G20’s priorities relate to young people, such as tackling the challenges associated with new patterns of work to ensure “future ready youth”. He added that the G20 would focus on financial inclusion. Dr Almubarak emphasized the role of financial inclusion in empowerment, saying: “access to financial services is a prerequisite for unlocking economic opportunities. The G20 agenda in 2020 will therefore focus on financial inclusion for youth, women and SMEs, complementing past presidencies’ efforts in this regard.” 

Dr Almubarak concluded by addressing the Y20, and wider global youth, by saying: “You are amongst the most educated, determined and inter-connected generation in human history, and you can impact change in the G20 and beyond. Over the next days and months, you have the unique privilege of representing your generation. In doing so you will help shape a global agenda to realize opportunities of the 21st century for all.” 

Addressing the young attendees, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said: “We believe there is simply no better investment in the future than an investment in today’s children and young people. After all, you’re tomorrow’s employees, employers, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders.” 

Abdullah Al-Rashid, Ithra’s Programs Director, announced a first in the history of the Y20 – the building of a ‘Y20 Community’ of around 2,000 young people aged 18-30 from across the G20 countries with the aim of ensuring an impactful two-way communications channel between young people, the Y20 and the wider G20. 

He said: “This is an initiative designed to bring decision-making closer to the people, especially to young people. We intend to involve thousands of young people from across the G20. We want to create a vibrant online community which can discuss the most pressing issues and move us towards robust, workable, solutions and policies, or at the very minimum present foundations for coherent future policies.” 

The Y20 Community will be formally launched with an open call to young people on social media, followed by three tracks of engagement: an awareness-raising track with online content generated by Y20 community members; priority areas discussions in the form of weekly webinars and monthly meetups open to the public; and a youth priorities initiative – an open call for young people to share a 1 minute video setting out the most pressing issues and suggestions relevant to them. The outcomes of this process will be passed on to the Italian delegation for consideration in next year’s Y20. Mr. 

Toily Kurbanov, Deputy Executive Coordinator of UN Volunteers, spoke of the importance of volunteering and emphasised that today’s youth have an important role in shaping the future. Speaking to the young people in attendance, he said: “Stop listening and agreeing that youth is the future, because youth is the present. No decision should be made without you. Do not wait for others to create an agenda for you.” 

The Y20 team is planning further activities during 2020, culminating in the Y20 2020 Summit in Riyadh from 12-18 October at which the Y20 Communiqué will be finalised for consideration at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in November.




Davos, Switzerland, 24 January 2020

The Misk Global Forum concluded its week of activations at Davos bringing the voices of young people to the World Economic Forum, with an inspirational discussion of new youth- led technologies transforming the world. 

In a conversation with Henri Arslanian, Global Crypto Leader at PWC, Juan Jose Pocaterra of Vikua highlighted the ways his company was using digitisation to provide public services to smaller, less-developed cities around the world, emphasising that, “technology in the places it’s most needed becomes an enabler for improving quality of life.” On the same panel, Chris Sheldrick CEO of what3words highlighted the ways his ground-breaking global mapping company is also improving lives by improving access to accurate transport, logistics and healthcare. “Let’s start where the need is greatest, then people will jump on,” Sheldrick said, adding, “let’s not get it hyped, let’s get it used.” 

That philosophy, getting things used and achieving real impact, united Misk’s various activations at Davos. Every morning a panel discussion featuring emerging and established entrepreneurs and thought-leaders highlighted the ways they are transforming their sectors before a diverse audience of drop-in guests – from WEF delegates to students of Davos’ schools. These sessions covered the skills young people need to lead, the ways business can balance profit with positive impact, and how people can care beyond borders in our shared world. The Pavilion also gave visitors insights into Misk’s various initiatives – from the 100,000 startups from over 180 countries brought together and accelerated through the Entrepreneurship World Cup, to the #ItStartsWithUs campaign’s online drive to engage and activate young people to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Shaima Hamidaddin, Executive Manager at the Misk Global Forum, said: “Our mission was to bring the voice of young people to Davos and I’m proud to say I think we achieved that. Across our panels and activations, we’ve seen young leaders and entrepreneurs show how they’re driving change and in doing so changed some minds. But as well as the voices we brought to Davos, we’ve also been inspired by the new voices that came to us through the Misk pavilion, young people eager to find a home for their ideas or established leaders eager for some insight into where the future might go.” 

Misk also hosted a dinner at the intercontinental, which once again brought the voices of young leaders from the Misk community, the WEF’s global shapers, and Entrepreneurship World Cup finalists, together with political, business, and cultural leaders. Youth-led discussions at every table, over food prepared by Saudi chef Najla Al Otaibi, saw guests discuss ways to up-skill young people, encourage global citizenship, and facilitate entrepreneurship. Across these discussions, emphasis returned repeatedly to the importance of education, of listening to young people, and value-driven approaches in business, insights that will be incorporated into Misk’s initiatives-planning for 2020 and beyond. 

Misk also supported the Saudi Café at Davos alongside Visit Saudi, bringing the flavours of the Arabian peninsula to the Swiss alps. Over the course of the week, over 2,000 visitors sampled Saudi delicacies like Shaatha Cake and Karak tea, again prepared by Najla Al Otaibi, while viewing images of the cultural and historic highlights of the Kingdom. The Misk Global Forum will continue its mission to empower young people throughout 2020 with a number of exciting and impactful initiatives, including the 2 nd phase of the Entrepreneurship World Cup, its hosting of the Y20 within Saudi Arabia’s broader G20 role, and the expansion of the #ItStartsWithUs campaign to empower young people to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals.




Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 14 November 2019

After a successful fourth edition of the Misk Global Forum (MGF), the event closed today following the announcement of the Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) winner and two days of insightful panels exploring the future of workspace, workforce and workflow. 

Canadian businessman and TV personality Kevin O’Leary, who was one of the EWC’s judges, described the Misk Global Forum as “the best conference I’ve ever been to in terms of deal flow”. 

During the event, speakers and participants from over 120 different countries engaged in discussions aimed at empowering young people to tackle the new trends and transformations sweeping the world of work. 

The second day commenced with a speech and a panel moderated by H.R.H. Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud on the future of eSports and, its growing importance in Saudi Arabia. The prince explained that: in eSports, the two greatest drivers for change and development have come together – youth and gaming. Those who have not been able to adapt to the needs and wants of the youth generation have been marked as outdated and have faded away. If we do not embrace this generation to guide us on this journey, then we are destined to fade away as well.

In a panel titled “Education – Changing the (Inter)Face of Learning”, speakers addressed the steps to take towards the future of education. Nazrene Mannie, Executive Director at GAN Global, said that organisations need to change how they recruit and recognise talent. Steve Brazel, CEO of Fullbridge, urged educators to change their approach towards education, stating that “smart educators have got to think much broader than curriculum; we’ve got to think from start to finish about the learning experience.” 

Examining the changes that hosting the Y20 summit will bring to Saudi Arabia next year, Sarah Alkhedheiri, Initiatives Manager at the Misk Foundation, explained that the Kingdom is different from other G20 countries in terms of population, and the transformation the country has been experiencing. Alkhedheiri said: “we’ll be able to show the world what Saudi Arabia has, but we’ll also be able to contribute to the world and give more of what we have to offer.” 

The MGF concluded with a full house watching the announcement of the EWC winner, who won a first prize of US$500,000. Canadian company NERv Technology Inc provides an innovative monitoring system for post-operative patients that aims to ensure that no patient loses their life because of an undetected post-operative complication.’



Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 14 November 2019

  • NERv Technology wins US$500,000 in cash, Shenzen Prize to expand in China, and thousands of dollars of in-kind-support.

  • Winner selected from 100,000 entrants from 185 countries, following year-long competition conducted by the Misk Global Forum.

  • The other top five finalists were Koniku Inc. (USA), Red Sea Farms (Saudi Arabia), Sumato-ID (Argentina) and SUN Mobility (India).

The global finals of the 2019 Entrepreneurship World Cup (EWC) concluded today at the fourth edition of the Misk Global Forum (MGF). The winner was NERv Technology Inc. (www.ne-rv.com) from Canada, an innovative monitoring system for post-operative patients that strives to ensure that no patient loses their life because of an undetected post-operative complication. NERv Tech. received a US$500,000 cash prize, in addition to a number of support and in-kind-opportunities from EWC partners around the world. This included the “Shenzen Prize” to help the company expand in China. 

Speaking after the awards ceremony, Amr Abdelgawad, COO and co-founder of NERv Tech., said: “the experience has been absolutely fantastic. We’ve been around like-minded individuals from hundreds of different countries, speaking different languages, engaging with people from different cultures, but we all have one thing in mind – we’re all persistent and working really hard to make our startups a success. To be the winner today is a testament to everything we’ve been doing, we’ve been working really hard for five years in order to make this dream a reality.” 

The EWC global finals in Riyadh were the culmination of a year-long competition organised by the Misk Global Forum and the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), along with a number of regional and strategic partners including Global Silicon Valley Labs (GSV Labs) and the Global Education and Leadership Foundation (tGELF). Over the course of 2019, 102,000 entrants from 187 countries were narrowed down through national and regional finals to 100 startups from 67 countries. 

Arriving in Riyadh last week, the 100 finalists enjoyed a two-day bootcamp at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), to make last-minute adjustments and improvements to their pitches under the eye of expert mentors, and with feedback from each other. Over the two days of the Misk Global Forum, these 100 startups were gradually narrowed down through heats and elimination stages to a final five. Taking to the stage, the finalists were selected by a panel of four international judges, all of them world leaders in business and entrepreneurship, and an audience vote. The final five were:

  • 1 st place: NERv Technology Inc. from Canada
  • 2 nd place: Koniku Inc. from the United States
  • 3 rd place: Red Sea Farms from Saudi Arabia
  • 4 th place: Sumato-ID from Argentina
  • 5 th place: SUN Mobility from India

Abdulrahman Al Suhaymi, who leads the EWC, the flagship entrepreneurship initiative at Misk, said: “Firstly, huge congratulations to our finalists and to NERv Technology. They are truly inspirational. While we called this event the finals, it’s really just part of the longer entrepreneurial journey all startups are on together. There are no losers in the EWC; all the entrants are now part of a truly global network of fellow innovators. They’ve all won the most important things to any startup: global experience, insight into new markets, and potential partners and collaborators. We’re incredibly proud and excited for them all and look forward to seeing what they achieve next.” 

Jonathan Ortmans, President of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, said: “Through the Entrepreneurship World Cup, our focus is on making it possible for anyone – anywhere – to start and scale a new company that solves a problem or fills a need. These entrepreneurs, not just the winners but everyone that participated in this competition, have already taken the next step in their journey by trying, learning and competing. Through their startups and through their passion, they will make the world a better place.”

The 2019 Entrepreneurship World Cup was the largest and most diverse global pitch competition of its kind. The next edition of the EWC will launch in 2020, continuing throughout the year to discover and empower new entrepreneurs from across the globe.



New York City, 25 September 2019

  • Misk brings together established and emerging business leaders discuss key challenges and opportunities in education and the job market facing young people.

  • Vital importance of changing the goals of business to leave a positive impact on both individuals and society a further key element of discussions.

  • Panel hears from 21 year-old entrepreneur David Zamarin that young people “want to feel that we’re valuable, that we can provide value.”

The Misk Global Forum today hosted a breakout session at the Bloomberg Business Forum in New York on the theme of “youth, the driving force of a prosperous economy.” 

The panel was composed of established business and thought leaders in Kai-Fu Lee, CEO of Sinovation Ventures, and Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMWare, alongside young entrepreneurs David Zamarin, Founder & CEO DetraPel, and Hansa Bergwall, Co-founder of WeCroak, who also moderated the discussion. Over the course of a wide-ranging discussion, which included questions from an audience of Bloomberg Global Business Forum attendees, the panel exchanged ideas on how young people can seize and capitalize opportunities in business to ensure prosperity for themselves and society, to ultimately cause real impacts that leave positive legacies. 

The panellists agreed on the vital importance of education to ensuring that young people have the skills they need, but also asserted that education systems need to evolve in line with the demands of the world. Pat Gelsinger noted that, “we used to say education was reading, writing, and arithmetic. In the future we might say it’s read, write code, and arithmetic,” while asserting that solving access to education through basic connectivity was achievable within the next ten or twenty years. 

Expanding on the theme of education, the speakers further emphasized the importance of personal mentors to young people’s success. Entrepreneur David Zamarin, himself only 21 years old, spoke from his personal experience, saying, “I learnt a lot from social media and online… But I wouldn’t have been able to get started without the personalized mentorship I got that took me to the next step.” Agreeing with Zamarin, Kai-Fu Lee suggested three things for young people to look for in a mentor: “One, someone you respect… Two, you’re looking for life experiences in them that you can bring to your own life. Third, you’re looking for time. I want some of their time invested into my life.” 

The panel went on to discuss some of the changes sweeping the world of work, including both the pitfalls and opportunities posed by these rapid changes. On the “gig economy,” Kai- Fu Lee noted that, “in the future we should imagine that people aren’t stuck with one job, 2 they’re doing two or three things… I don’t think humans are meant to be on earth to do routine jobs.” 

David Zamarin agreed, urging young people looking to succeed to “find what your value is for people who want to consume your creativity,” while offering reassurance that, “if you fail, that’s ok! In reality failure is just learning from mistakes. A gig economy provides that [opportunity to learn].” 

Pat Gelsinger linked this to their discussion of education, emphasising that to succeed in this environment constant skill development was vital and that, “training is no longer a statement of completion, it’s an ongoing life event… All of us have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.” 

Discussions turned to the ways in which young people and companies can cause wider positive impacts. David Zamarin offered that, “a lot of time people are afraid of risk, but I think as entrepreneurs and business leaders we like taking on risk. It’s a great way of stimulating the economy.” Zamarin also noted that a big motivator for a lot of young entrepreneurs is “to make such a dent into their world that it changes fundamental rules.” 

Pat Gelsinger, referencing the threat posed by climate change, argued that while no one business could make enough of a difference, “collectively we can un-bankrupt the planet for the next generation,” while also emphasising that, “the role of the business is not just about shareholder returns.” 

Kai-Fu Lee, speaking from his experience as a mentor, stated that, “people really have to do what they love to be the best they can be…. So in our company we want to hire the best people and put them in the right seats… Help people find the true voice in their heart, and be who they want to be.” 

While Hansa Bergwall noted in his opening and closing remarks that, “the youth of today want to hold on to those things that matter the most and let go of everything else,” and called on people to recognize that, “life is short and previous and to make the most of it while you can.” 

The session was organized by the Misk Global Forum (MGF). Opening the session and welcoming the panellists to the stage, Shaima Hamidaddin, Executive Manager of the Misk Global Forum, noted that, “We take the Misk Foundation’s mission around the world, to over 185 countries. We empower young people, over 900,000 so far, to thrive in the future economy and become active global citizens. And attending events such as the Bloomberg Business Forum is part of that mission.

Earlier in the week, the Misk Global Forum hosted the inaugural Misk Youth Forum as another element of its international mission. At the forum, young people from over 70 countries came together in the heart of global business to discuss how to change business for good by balancing profit with purpose and place a new emphasis on the fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)





New York City, 23 September 2019

  • 255 participants, young people of over 70 different nationalities and 47 speakers lent
    their voice to the global debate around balancing profit with purpose and fulfilling the. Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Discussions focused on the importance of young people being afforded and taking leadership roles, harnessing their unique ambitions and energies.
  • New #ItStartsWithUs initiative launched with #OneWord challenge to engage young people around the world with Sustainable Development Goals.

New York City, 23 September 2019The inaugural Misk Youth Forum closed today with young people from over 70 countries coming together in the heart of global business to discuss how to change business for good by balancing profit with purpose and putting a new emphasis on the fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Across the day’s events, young people engaged with established leaders, emerging changemakers, and their peers on challenging themselves and their leaders to bring real change. The topics discussed ranged from the importance of entrepreneurship to sustainable development to the role of sports in driving wider changes; from taking personal responsibility for change to how new regulatory approaches can incentivise socially- responsible businesses, all with the goal of creating real impact on the ground. 

The forum also saw the launch of one new way to drive impact: the #OneWord challenge of #ItStartsWithUs. This is a new initiative to drive young people’s engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals by writing one word they believe can inspire action and impact on their finger, tweeting a photo, and challenging their friends to do the same. 

Opening the wider forum, Shaima Hamidaddin, Executive Manager of Misk Global Forum, emphasised that the event was an opportunity for the young people in attendance “to bring your voices, ideas, energy and creativity to policy-makers, NGO leaders and business leaders. Together you can work to redefine the purpose of business for good, achieve social and environmental goals, and sustain those impacts for the long-term.” 

With the forum’s mission laid out, a full house heard from three young social entrepreneurs from across the world had begun to do just that. Victoria Alonsoperez, Founder & CEO of Chipsafer in Uruguay, spoke of how an outbreak of disease that threatened her country’s vital agricultural sector had inspired her to combine social concerns with a passion for new technology to create Chipsafer. She called on young people to be given greater access to new technologies, “because what they can achieve is unbelievable – they can solve the problems in their communities.” 

Razan Farhan Alaqil, Saudi Arabia’s National Focal Point of the Arab Youth Platform for Sustainable Development, called on young people to take action themselves, saying, “each individual in this room, each individual all around the world has to be responsible to say ‘I am responsible for my lifestyle.’ We can’t expect to see change if we’re not a part of it.” 

Meanwhile, Ezequiel Vedana da Rosa from Brazil, founder of sanitation solution Piipee, emphasised the need for entrepreneurs and changemakers to focus on simple solutions and offered a simple mantra for success to guide others: “I think our challenge is life is to find a purpose… because i really believe we are not just here to be here. We have to have a mission to do good.” 

As the day progressed, more young entrepreneurs offered their experiences and inspiration to the audience, earning praise from established leaders who expressed their admiration and hopes for the new generation to “change the world if we give them the chance.” Indeed, sustainability expert Paul Polman, Co-Founder & Chair of Imagine, stated that, “it’s young people’s future. So we need to be sure we not only give them a seat at the table, we give them the table.” 

Alongside the vital role played by business and the private sector, the Saudi women’s football team – founded for and competing in the SDG World Cup – offered a unique insight into how sports can have a wider impact. Taking to the stage, the team described how their sports clubs were bringing together the teams, families, and Saudi authorities to improve health, recycle, and completely engage their community with the SDGs. Their session ended with footballing legend Thierry Henry taking to the stage, ahead of his own session on how to expand access to education, to offer his own coaching expertise. 

Alongside these plenary sessions, the World Bank, Acumen, Bridge for Billions, and Global Pulse conducted workshops on how to achieve entrepreneurship success and drive change through social enterprises. 

The Misk Youth Forum was held as part of the Misk Global Forum’s commitment to taking its mission to empower young people with the skills they need for the future economy and to become global citizens. The forum concluded with Shaima Hamidaddin thanking all those who had taken part and expressing the hope that participants would join MGF at its annual gathering in Riyadh in November.