Leader's Speech in Meeting with Entrepreneurs

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on September 7, 2010 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with a group of entrepreneurs. The meeting was held on the 27th of Ramadan.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

I express my deep gratitude to the dear friends who organized this meeting and who provided the opportunity for me to meet this honorable and dear group of entrepreneurs and listen to these valuable points on the last days of the auspicious month of Ramadan which are valuable days.

I am sure that you have many things to say. Each of you who has participated in this meeting from various sectors has certain suggestions to offer about your sector and each of you has new ideas to put forward. Besides, each of you undoubtedly has good news which makes our people and our country happy - as many of the points that the dear friends raised in this meeting make our dear people happy - and each of you has certain criticisms to make all of which are legitimate.

Well, we had a meeting with men of knowledge two days ago and today, we have a meeting with men of action. Although many of you are men of knowledge, you have combined knowledge with action. As this holy narration says, "Knowledge calls upon action. If it comes, knowledge stays and if it does not, it leaves" [Bihar al-Anwar, Volume 65, page 363]. Knowledge calls on action to follow it. If action follows knowledge, then knowledge stays - in other words, it develops and achieves growth - and if action does not follow it, then knowledge will leave. Knowledge leaves without action. This is how we grasp the significance of action. Action without knowledge has little effect. Knowledge without action has no effect at all. This is the significance of work.

When work is so important, then entrepreneurship is naturally as important. If someone can prepare the ground for work, they have performed an act of worship. The outlook that we adopt on work should not be confined to finding a job for an unemployed person so that he can make a living. Of course, this is undoubtedly very good and necessary. Promoting entrepreneurship and creating employment in the country leads to production of wealth.

As investment - whether financial or scientific - and investors create employment, laborers stimulate investment. This is a very important dimension of employment, but the significance of employment is not only this. Another important dimension of employment is that you are digging up a treasure. An individual who has certain talents can produce and create. He was lying idle somewhere and you helped him have a job. Therefore, his hidden treasure has been unearthed and this is very significant.

An unemployed individual has a hidden and God-given talent which has unintentionally become stagnant. When you find a job for this individual, the spring which was inside him, which was unused and which quenched no one's thirst will flow again. Therefore, employment and entrepreneurship has a great economic as well as a very lofty human aspect to it.

Therefore, I stress that entrepreneurship is an act of worship. It is an act of worship and it is very valuable. This is a kind of creating value. Of course, today, the dear friends who spoke in this meeting referred to few areas of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is not confined to these areas. It has many areas within the great scope of talents and natural and human capacities of the country. Well, you are a selection and sample of these areas. The scope of entrepreneurship in the country is very broad.

Primarily, our meeting is a symbolic one. Although it is true that I benefited from the statements that the dear friends in this meeting made and that your speeches will be broadcast and the people will benefit from them, this meeting primarily shows how wide the scope of the capabilities of our dear country is. If a program is broadcast about the measures which have been implemented in different agricultural and industrial areas, different areas related to other sciences and technologies and areas related to public services and finance, then any listener will see with his own eyes that - as I said many times - our dear country has thankfully many capabilities and capacities. Today, we can see that the country has, in fact, turned into a great and large workshop and that work is bubbling from everywhere. There is innovation, creativity and reliance on knowledge and experience in our country.

The day before yesterday, I said to a number of university professors with whom I had a meeting - and I would like to say to you too - that you should not think we are satisfied with these achievements or that we are not aware of the rate of unemployment in the country. This is not the case. All the measures which have been adopted so far are the first step. All these measures are the first step. We should take other steps as well. What is the important point that we should take into account for taking other steps? Primarily, we should know that it is possible to take steps. After we know that it is possible, we should feel that it is a responsibility, one that is great.

Of course, the essence of work is important, but today, work and entrepreneurship enjoy more importance because of two fundamental reasons. You said that work is very important from the viewpoint of Islam. There are many narrations from the Imams (a.s.) about the significance and virtues of work. The measures that you referred to are examples of the virtues of work. I have written down a narration in this regard: "Whoever works, his capabilities increase and whoever shirks his duties towards working, his weaknesses will increase" [Al-Hayat, Volume 1, page 591].

When you work, your capabilities for working increase. The essence of work is not reduction. Rather, the essence of work is increase and this means an increase in one's capabilities for working, not an increase in production. Of course, it is evident that production increases when one works. After all, when one works, this will yield a product. But in this narration, the Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) says that when you work, your capabilities for working will increase.

In the second part of the narration, he says that "whoever shirks his duties towards working, his weaknesses will increase". This is not particular to individuals. The word "whoever" does not only mean individuals. It is not confined to individuals. This is related to societies - any society and any people - as well. The more you work, the more your capabilities for working will increase. The more one is dynamic, the more enthusiastic one will be. Well, this is related to work about which Islam has many things to say including this narration which I read to you. However, as I said, working has more significance today because of two reasons.

The first reason is that we are in any era when we are ready to make a great leap. Today, we are ready to make a leap in the area of progress. Today, our issue is not only moving forward. The country is in such conditions that our people can launch a great movement and make a leap in the area of progress. Why is that? It is because primarily, many infrastructures have been prepared, the level of knowledge has increased in the country and many efficient managers have been built. One of our problems in the past was lack of competent and moral managers in our country. Today, we have a 30-year experience in the area of effective and revolutionary management. So, this is an infrastructure.

The ground has been prepared for working and people's hopes about making progress have been raised. When it is said that we have developed a medicine which the entire world needs and which has not been developed by any scientific center in the world except by us, this gives hope to our youth. When our people and youth witness that we have managed to develop and blossom nuclear science without having any country to support us in this regard, they become hopeful.

How many of those countries which enjoy nuclear technology have managed to develop it on their own? There are very few countries. There are such countries, but they are few. Many of them have bought it from other countries. It was their allies which offered the nuclear technology to many of these countries and this was because of ideological, political and other such reasons. We are aware of this issue. I myself know this and I am saying this based on certain information. This is while we have managed to develop the nuclear technology on our own.

According to the reports which have been delivered to me, great feats have been accomplished in this regard. On the issue of stem cells, our youth have managed to accomplish great feats by showing perseverance and determination and by acquiring knowledge. Well, these achievements are very promising.

Therefore, we have more experience today. Our hopes have been boosted, our infrastructures have increased and the season of showing capabilities and making leaps has arrived. Our people have known themselves. The same is true of our youth. Besides, it has been realized that our country has a high level of intelligence. Therefore, this is a season of making leaps. Now that the season of making leaps has arrived, the significance of working increases and the significance of entrepreneurship increases as much. This is the first reason.

The second reason why work and entrepreneurship are more important for us today is that we are faced with global pressures in the present time. There is an enemy in the world which wants to restore its satanic domination in our country by exerting economic pressures, imposing sanctions and hatching other plots which you are aware of. This is their goal.

Our country was under the domination of a certain power in the world despite the fact that it is a very good country, that it has many natural resources, that it has a very good geographical location and that it has so many capacities. One day, it was the English who dominated our country and one day it was the Americans who did so. In fact, these powers represent global arrogance and global empire. In the present time, America represents one part of this empire. These powers were dominant over the country, but the Revolution cut off their hands. Arrogance wants to come back to the country. This is why they are making all these efforts.

The issue of nuclear technology is an excuse. Those people who think our problems will be solved if we resolve the issue of nuclear energy, are wrong. They bring up the issue of nuclear energy, human rights and different other issues. But these are all excuses. The main issue is exerting pressures. They want to bring our people to their knees. They want to topple the Revolution.

One of the important things that they do in this regard is imposing economic sanctions. They say, "It is not the people of Iran whom we are faced with". They are lying. Their main confrontation is against the people of Iran. The purpose of sanctions is to exhaust the people of Iran so that they say, "We are under sanctions because of the government of the Islamic Republic". They want to do this so that they can break off the relationship between the people of Iran and the Islamic Republic. This is their main goal.

Of course, they do not know our people. Like all other cases, their calculations are completely wrong in this case. From the viewpoint of global arrogance, the big sin of the people of Iran is that they have liberated themselves from domination. They want to punish the people of Iran because of this sin. They say, "Why did you people of Iran liberate yourselves from domination".

Our people have found their path and therefore, their calculations are completely wrong. They do not understand what they should do and what they are doing, but they exert pressures anyway. They exert economic pressures through sanctions.

We should develop an economy of resistance in the country. This is the meaning of entrepreneurship today. The friends in this meeting said that we will sidestep sanctions. They are right. I myself am completely sure that we can do this. The people of Iran and the officials of the country will sidestep sanctions and thus, they will frustrate those who impose sanctions. Like other political cases in recent years, they make a mistake and they make a certain move and then, they will have to make an apology for each of these mistakes.

You probably remember a number of such cases. Of course, youth are not aware of these things. During the past 10, 20 years, they have adopted such measures several times. It is the same this time as well. Sanctions are not new for us. It is 30 years now that we have been under sanctions. All achievements have been made and all the great movements of the people of Iran have been launched while we were under sanctions. Therefore, they cannot do anything. But sanctions are a good reason for all the officials and sympathetic executives of the country to consider themselves responsible for creating employment, increasing production and promoting entrepreneurship and this great workshop on a daily basis. Iran is really a great workshop today. Everyone should consider themselves responsible in this regard.

What I understood from the speeches of the gentlemen and ladies in this meeting is that there are certain complaints about the process of finance and business in the country. We feel these complaints in the reports that we receive as well. Of course, we laid the main foundation through the policies specified in Article 44 of the Constitution. If we benefit from and illustrate the policies specified in Article 44 of the Constitution - the Article itself is an interpreter of the stipulations in it - and, by Allah's favor, if these policies are implemented in a complete, careful, comprehensive and permanent way, then many of the problems will be solved.

What I understand from all these complaints is that executive organizations are expected to carry out two tasks: one is careful and knowledge-based management of resources. Many of these complaints originate from lack of careful management in all areas. Careful management is necessary. I advise the dear executive officials who are present in this meeting to place great emphasis on management. Many of these complaints - which are legitimate - are related to this issue.

Management of resources means that we should draw resources towards what brings about value added for the country both in financial and non-financial areas. What I mean by "value added" is not only financial value added. Rather, I mean what increases production, what improves business, what boosts hopes, what stimulates employment and other such things. Therefore, one fundamental issue is the issue of management of resources.

The second task is improving business. In my opinion, one of the responsibilities of the administration is this. The honorable minister pointed out the issue of improving business in his report. Improving business is mainly the responsibility of the administration. The issue of strict rules and regulations, lack of different facilities and bureaucratic restrictions are issues which will lead to the improvement of business - which is one of the most important issues in our economy - if they are resolved. As for the issue of single-unit window - which means a window for all tasks, as put forward by the honorable minister - if this task is carried out, many problems will be solved. This issue, which is important, is related to the administration. In my opinion, these are the main responsibilities of the administration. Of course, executive officials have many responsibilities. But on the basis of these reports and statements, their main responsibilities are these two tasks.

One fundamental point about business is the issue of the quality of domestic production. Entrepreneurs should pay attention to this point because it is very important. Of course, part of this task depends on financial issues, rules and regulations and the support of the administration. But another part of it depends on the determination and willpower of officials, entrepreneurs and laborers.

The Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) said, "God's mercy be upon those who carry out a task in a proper way". This is forward-looking outlook. This outlook should not be confined to the present time. Notice that there are companies in the world which have been working for 100, 150 years and whose products are easily sold throughout the world. The name of these companies is enough for promoting their products. This is because they have been working in a proper way and customers completely trust them.

You say that we should advise the people to use domestic products. It is several years now that I have been offering them this piece of advice. I have said this many times, but this cannot be done by chanting slogans. Well, it will be good if the people pay attention to this piece of advice and if, as I said, they use domestic products. But this is only one part of the issue. Another part is related to the quality of production. So, quality should be enhanced.

I agree with what a number of friends in this meeting said on the issue of importation. In the meeting that I had with officials - which was held in the early days of Ramadan - I said to both MPs and executive officials that they should attend to the issue of excessive and unreasonable importation. On my way to this meeting, I asked the honorable minister of finance about this issue. He answered that good measures are being adopted in this regard.

What these friends said is true. The issue of excessive and unnecessary importation is a great loss and danger. The people should know this as well. When we use a foreign product, we are in fact making our own laborers unemployed and we are providing other laborers with job opportunities. This is true, but the issue of standard, quality and efficiency of production is very important as well. If domestic goods and products have these characteristics, there will be a natural tendency among the people to use them

Unfortunately, there are some people who still have their eyes on the outside. This is the result of the wrong culture which was promoted during the sinister era of monarchy - the era of taught and dependence - in our country. There was one day when the executive officials of the country openly said that Iran cannot even produce a container. They practically imported everything. In the era of taghut, a high-ranking official came across me in a meeting - we never had any relationship with these people, nor did we meet with them. I was making certain criticisms about such issues. He looked at us and said, "What are you criticizing? We are sitting here like lords and other countries are working and sending goods for us like servants. Is this bad?" Notice that this was the way officials during the time of taghut reasoned.

Therefore, the issue of managing importation is important. In that meeting with the executive officials of the Islamic Republic, we said to the officials who were present that they should manage - not prevent - importation. Some things should enter the country and some other things should not. There should be efficient management in this regard. This is completely clear.

I have written down another point to discuss. Another responsibility of executive officials is developing expertise. Technological and industrial academies, universities of applied sciences and technology and technical and vocational universities and centers should develop. We need knowledge, but we also need extensive expertise. In my opinion, one necessary task is to work on industrial and agricultural areas.

Another point is the issue of innovation, creativity and beauty in production. One of the things which should receive attention is innovation in all products. This should be done in a ceaseless way and there should be attention to the aesthetics of consumers - that is to say, their desire for exquisite productions should be satisfied. This is a noteworthy issue which we should attach great significance to. I really express my gratitude to the friends who make efforts in and work on such areas.

I would like to offer this last piece of advice: great significance should be attached to the issue of building manpower, particularly in knowledge-based industries. This was pointed out by the dear friends in this meeting as well. Fortunately, this has been done in a number of areas. We know that this has been done in the area of nuclear energy. Also, I am fully aware that Royan Institute has built competent, efficient and knowledgeable experts and researchers. This issue should receive attention in different areas.

I hope that God bestows success on all of you. By Allah's favor, we will defeat the enemy and sidestep sanctions and our youth will experience good days in the future because this country is a very talented country. Today, a swift eagle - which can fly at very high altitudes - has managed to fly from this country and soar in the sky. Today is such a day. This is an experience. This altitude can even be higher than this. By Allah's favor, there will be one day when your country will be a scientific reference for other countries and it will be a source of pride for Muslim peoples. They will say, "Islam led this country in such a magnificent way". By Allah's favor, you will be a point of reference both in terms of science and production.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy