On 29th October 2022, I landed at Queen Alia airport, Amman, Jordan, which shrouded in cold clouds. And as we disembark from the plane, I felt the temperature is a bit higher than what I used. In other words, I never seen temperature that is so thick and cold. As we drive towards to our hotel, I can’t stop reflecting the basic infrastructure and development that this country unleashed.

Long story short, I went to Amman to attend what was the first Arab SME summit that brought together well over 600 delegates from around the world – including Somalia. The delegates were drawn from large pool of ecosystem including government institutions, private and corporate companies, academics, SMEs, innovation hubs, business leaders, and earlier stage entrepreneurs.

Since the summit was the first of its kind, the aim of the summit was, among other things, to learn, meet and network from partners in Arab market in the exploration of opportunities and synergies.

In addition to that, the summit aims at helping Arab SMEs and entrepreneurs’ access to regional and international markets, mobilize diverse financial resources, benefit from regional and international networks, and increase their ability to scale up. Moreover, the summit will act as a regional platform for national and international leaders from the public and private sectors to advocate inclusive policies and strategies required to support Arab SMEs.

In fact, Somalia had considerable delegation attending the summit. In addition to iRise Hub, which I and my colleague represented, there were other SMEs and startup companies at the summit. Throughout the summit, I was able to interact with several Arab SMEs, startup, and their local ecosystem. We paid courtesy visit to local innovation hubs to explore and compare the notes. Although Jordan still facing economic challenges, yet the country built an enabling space and infrastructure that could easily allow and pave the way for startup leapfrogging.