The Business Game: A design thinking competition for students and entrepreneurs
‘The Business Game’ is a design thinking competition between entrepreneurs and university students in Jordan. The competition is a platform where students work in teams to solve real-life business challenges that startups often face. Young people learn valuable team building, entrepreneurship and project management skills when working together to devise and pitch their solutions.
According to a recent statement by Jordan Labour Watch, unemployment continues to be a significant challenge for the 2.2 million young people living in Jordan, who now face an unemployment rate of 47.7%.
“Jordanian youth have to be ready to compete for a decent job opportunity and ready to transform their ideas into businesses,” says Haneen Khatib, Jordan Country Manager at SPARK.
In partnership with TTi, a Jordanian non-profit organisation with a mission to spread entrepreneurship among youth and women, SPARK connects university students that are on the brink of graduation with Jordan’s entrepreneurs, who are already running their startups. Through ‘The Business Game’ competition, students from different disciplines have the chance to develop their entrepreneurial skills, helping them to become strong, work-ready future employees. Students apply their ideas and solutions to real-world business challenges presented by the startups, which in turn also helps the existing businesses to get a fresh perspective on their problems and identify new, young talent.
Meeting at a co-working space in Amman on the day of the competition, nine students from different Jordanian universities met with nine startup founders. The students each bring different skills; they study marketing, business administration, finance and engineering. After the welcoming and icebreaker, the moderator divides the students into three groups of three.
Throughout the day, startups pitch their challenges to the different student groups, who come up with innovative and practical solutions. Once the time is up, each group presents their solutions and debates ensue about which solution is optimal, how it can be applicable to the challenge, and what resources are needed to make it achievable.
Belal Raslan, Director of TTi, says: “This competition bridges the gap between the business sector and the education sector in Jordan….The experience was unique because it was a practical experience. Students are now more aware of actual business challenges, while entrepreneurs receive effective solutions.”
One of the student participants, Nagham Hammad studying at the University of Jordan, says: “I am looking to gain entrepreneurial experience. The competition also provided me with solid networking opportunities. I am by nature an introvert, so it was a good opportunity to interact with people.” It was helpful to brainstorm within a team environment to find solutions.
‘The Business Game’ is organised across Amman, Irbid and Karak, with both Jordanian and and Syrian entrepreneurs taking part. So far, 100 students and 100 startups have engaged with the competition as part of the Economic Resilience through COVID-19 programme funded by the Qatar Fund for Development.