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Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East Kindle Edition
|Length: 256 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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The book offers a very different view of what is happening in the Middle East - one not covered by the mainstream media. Schroeder paints a the picture via compelling stories of entrepreneurs throughout the region (with a focus on Arab countries, rather than Israel). Stories of entrepreneurial perseverance are always compelling - even more so here given the macro and micro challenges these entrepreneurs face. The book is a great read from Marc Andreessen's provocative foreword to Schroeder's compelling thesis -- "its not a question of if, but when."
Unlike the litany of non-fiction books that I have recently bought, but not read, Startup Rising pulled me in. Though Schroeder himself is an entrepreneur, not a writer, it's highly readable, and I flew right through it. This is a great read for entrepreneurs, people interested the role of technology in a rapidly globalizing world, and anyone looking for a sliver of optimism about the Middle East.
Anyone hoping to understand the origins of the startup movement, the challenges entrepreneurs face, and the general startup landscape in the Arab world should pick up Shcroeder's book. Surprisingly perhaps, for a book that expounds on both the Middle East and the evolution of business, it's actually a light, fun read that brings the backstories and aspirations of each entrepreneur alive while maintaining a good pace and an eye for character details.
In the later chapters, Schroeder takes a stab at elucidating dicier issues, such as the role of religion in startup creation in the Middle East region. As he comes away with a hopeful, positive image of startup creation, he also- diplomatically but firmly- calls upon global business minds to look past current stereotypes and see opportunity for what it is.
I grew up in the Middle East. Half my family have lived spread across six different countries in the Middle East for generations. I'm one of those hundreds of millions of people for whom "the Middle East" isn't some Other with an 'Oud.
A great deal of the attention this book has rightly won comes from the powerful counter-narrative Schroeder provides to the dominant American caricature of the Middle East, a caricature which stretches back at least to Carter's era.
And it IS a very powerful demolition of that caricature.
But even for people whose images of the Middle East are very different from that caricature, Schroeder has stunning news to relate. Because he sees patterns that are NEW, that are NOW in the process of transforming the Middle East, patterns enabled by the interactions between the new technologies (especially mobile internet technologies) and this new generation rising, patterns that are the shape the souk will take as the 21st century emerges from its adolescence.
And with that absolutely essential skill of the great entrepreneur that Schroeder clearly has in spades, he helps US to see those patterns. His eye on what's happening is an entrepreneur's keen gaze for change, an entrepreneur's way of telling a powerful story about data points that gesture towards a key inflection.
Pick up most books about trends in the economies of the Arabian Peninsula and you'll read about rentier states, challenges facing massive capital-intensive industries, the fate of oil - nothing about the kind of stories Schroeder found and found the significance of. Like the story of the five high-school-aged women in Yemen who, trying to address the massive hazard kerosene lamps pose the tent communities in their area by making it economical to switch to battery-powered lanterns, created, over the course of ten months, their own solar charging stations with the materials they had at hand by leveraging the information they found in hundreds of YouTube videos.
He shows us patterns that are the shape the souk will take as the 21st century emerges from its adolescence. The souk - that fundamental aspect of every Middle Eastern country since before the first Joha story was ever told. The souk - that embodiment of so DEMOCRATIC an ethos and an energy (as Nobel-laureate Soyinka reminded us a few years ago in his Samarkand volume, his reclamation from Orientalist fantasy of that great marketplace). The souk - which in our era will have its placeness ever more virtualized, ever more transformed by online (and especially mobile) technology. Schroeder shows us, again and again, that the rising generation is already, right now, effecting that transformation.
But this book is not only for people interested in the Middle East - any entrepreneur anywhere will find her time well spent with this book.
Because the kind of radical transformation of the Middle East's economic ecosystem that Schroeder posits is underway is a challenge and an inspiration to entrepreneurs everywhere.
I especially enjoyed that the book took into account the broader cultural forces at play. It doesn't read like a strictly business book; rather it views entrepreneurship as a vehicle for productive societal and cultural change. I appreciated that the book avoids the Orientalist tropes that so many books about the Middle East indulge in. Shroeder paints a picture of a young, optimistic Middle East that's keen to set the course of their own destiny. Individual sections are dedicated to education, women, and religion.
Overall, it's an enjoyable read that brings an often overlooked entrepreneurial region to life.
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