IsDB President Calls for Nurturing Entrepreneurial Leaders during 18th Global Islamic Finance Forum

Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 28 April 2024 - The 18th Islamic Development Bank Global Forum on Islamic Finance has been successfully held on the sidelines of the IsDB Group Annual Meetings and Golden Jubilee Celebration in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In his opening remarks, IsDB President, H.E. Dr. Muhammad Al-Jasser, called for nurturing a generation of entrepreneurial leaders who can help propel the world toward a future rooted in ethical principles and sustainable development.

Under the theme “Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership in Islamic Finance”, the forum attracted an array of thought leaders, policymakers, financial experts, and major stakeholders in the Islamic finance industry who deliberated on how entrepreneurship can advance sustainable development.

Dr. Al-Jasser highlighted the impact of entrepreneurship on both individual and global economies, citing examples of enterprises that have created immense value for people worldwide, such as Alibaba, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Nvidia, and Tesla. He noted that the combined current market value of these companies is almost US$12 trillion, which exceeds the economic output in 2023 of the UK, France, and Russia combined.

He also pointed out the disparity in new business creation rates between high-income and low-income economies, and stressed the need to address this gap by fostering a conducive environment that supports and nurtures entrepreneurship. The President suggested that initiatives such as microfinancing, tailored to comply with Islamic financial principles, could be pivotal in this respect.

Dr. Al-Jasser also linked the spirit of entrepreneurship to the realm of Islamic finance, noting that Prophet Muhammad (SWA) himself was a successful entrepreneur, embodying the qualities of trustworthiness, risk-sharing, and a commitment to the betterment of society. “When financial institutions are grounded in these principles, they can effectively promote ventures that contribute to sustainable growth and empower potential entrepreneurs,” he added.

H.E. Dr. Stephen Groff, Governor of the Saudi National Development Fund, and Engineer Mutlaq H. Al-Morished, Board Member of Saudi SME Bank, also delivered keynote speeches highlighting how to synergize Islamic finance principles with entrepreneurship for sustainable economic development.

These were followed by the award presentation to the winner of the 2024 IsDB Prize for Impactful Achievement in Islamic Economics, Professor Mehmet Asutay, a professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Political Economy & Finance at Durham University. The award was presented by IsDB Vice President (Operations), Dr. Mansur Muhtar, on behalf of H.E. the President, Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser.

The forum featured the launching of a new IsDBI report titled “Catalyzing Social Entrepreneurship through Islamic Finance”, which explores the potential of Islamic finance to support social entrepreneurship and impact investing.

In a panel session, experts explored the pivotal role of entrepreneurship in advancing sustainable development, particularly within the Islamic finance paradigm. Panelists in the session were Dr. Zeger Degraeve, Executive Dean of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman College (MBSC); Mr. Morrad Irsane, CEO and Founder of TAKADAO; and Dr. Sami Al-Suwailem, Acting Director General of the IsDB Institute.

The second session showcased the Smart Stabilization System, a patent-pending algorithm to enhance stability in financial markets, being developed by the IsDB Institute and implemented by the blockchain company SettleMint. Mr. Matthew Van Niekerk, Founder & CEO of SettleMint, and Dr. Hilal Houssain, Associate Manager of Knowledge Solutions Team, IsDBI, gave a presentation highlighting the key features of the system and its potential to support the financial industry.