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Technology firms lead Saudi Arabia’s fastest-growing list

The Saudi Fast Growth 100 is now almost a national programme to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in the country. (AFP)

By Staff Writer

Technology and telecommunications companies dominated the list of top 45 growth companies released by Saudi Fast Growth 100, an index formed by Saudi enterprises and academics at Harvard University to track industry performance.

The list was, however, led by Worley Parsons Arabia, an Al Khobar-based construction and engineering company that recorded a five-year standard growth of 4,357.94 per cent, according to Saudi Fast Growth 100. The company stands in the revenue range of SR200 million (Dh195.89m) to SR500m.

The index also separately listed the top 30 start up companies. The list was dominated by technology and public relations firms.

Companies belonging to 15 categories figured in the list of top 45 companies.

The second company in the list is Full Stop, a Jeddah-based company that specialises in public relations, media and publishing, advertising and marketing. The company recorded a five-year standard growth of 1,766.3 per cent. The company, with the third highest growth in the region, was SecuTronic, a Jeddah-based technology and telecommunications company that grew at 1,610.82 per cent. The second and the third ranked companies on the list generated revenue in the range of SR10m to SR15m.

The Saudi Fast Growth 100 portal said that these 45 companies have created 28,000 employment opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

Of these 15,000 employment opportunities were created in the past five years, Saudi Fast Growth 100 said. The winning companies grew an average of 40 per cent a year and over 70 per cent of the CEOs have founded other companies of which an impressive 90 per cent are still in business, Saudi Fast Growth 100 said.

In the next two years, most of the CEOs have plans to start another business and nearly a quarter plan to do an Initial Public Offering, it added. The CEOs of these companies had an average age of 30-33 years when they formed their companies.

The Saudi Fast Growth 100 is now almost a national programme to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in Saudi Arabia that ranks the fastest-growing emerging companies in the kingdom.  The list was created by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority’s (Sagia) National Competitiveness Center with joint founding partners Al Watan newspaper and AllWorld Network. Strategic Partners are the National Commercial Bank, Sukoon International and Siraj Capital joined the initiative as partners.

“Compiling the Saudi Fast Growth 100 list led us to several encouraging conclusions,” said Amr Al Dabbah, Sagia’s Governor. Al Dabbah said the new list proves that Saudi Arabia is promoting entrepreneurship.

A majority of respondents interviewed for the survey indicated that growth plans over the next few years included acquisitions, initial public offerings, and expansion throughout the Middle East and beyond.

“The majority of Saudi Fast Growth 100 entrepreneurs have started more than one company, and the majority plan to establish another company in the next two years. The conditions are right and the evidence confirms that entrepreneurship is surging in the kingdom,” said Anne S Habiby, one of the co-founders of AllWorld.

The concept of ranking top 100 growth companies began from the US. The co-founders of AllWorld Network – Deirdre M Coyle and Anne S Habiby – joined forces with Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter and Inc magazine to create the US Inner City 100 list, looking for competitive entrepreneurs in smaller US cities. In 2001, the UK’s then-Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, asked the team to create a UK Inner City 100 with the Financial Times in 2001. In 2007, Coyle and Habiby established AllWorld Network to take this model global. They began the index in Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority. The inaugural Saudi Fast Growth 100 winners were announced at the 2009 Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh.

During the five-year period measured (2004 - 2008), 45 Saudi Fast Growth 100 companies were found to have created more than 19,000 jobs since they were founded, of which 11,000 were created in the last five years. The companies grew at a 41-percent average compound annual growth rate, with revenues ranging from SR4m to SR1bn.


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