Qatar has adopted well-considered policies that have been steadily expanding to support and encourage entrepreneurship and the advancement of the small and medium-sized enterprises sector (SMEs), which has recently achieved remarkable progress in the country’s economy.
These policies have succeeded in facing internal and external economic fluctuations and achieving the desired economic diversification.
The stakeholders involved in the development of this sector are working hard to achieve sustainable development and economic diversification. As a result, all the data suggests that more new horizons and promising investment opportunities are being opened in this sector, which is one of the cornerstones of economic diversification, facing global economic fluctuations and challenges in all its forms.
Qatar Development Bank (QDB) has played an important role in empowering entrepreneurs. It launched a package of initiatives and programmes, adopting unique business models based on innovation, employing best practices and modern techniques to support operations. This reflects the guidelines of the leadership, and is in line with the economic development pillar of Qatar National Vision 2030.
These efforts have been a strong and encouraging incentive for SMEs to achieve higher levels of competitiveness in the local market and push towards creating a business environment conducive to the creation of a new quality of national and international SMEs that will contribute to the country’s economic growth.
QDB Executive Director of Advisory Services and Incubation, Ibrahim al-Mannai, said that the efforts of the bank to serve entrepreneurs starts once they have a business idea existence, noting that these efforts resulted in tangible results reflected on several levels, including the increasing number of SMEs and their growing return on the state’s economy.
In a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA) al-Mannai said small companies in the country, which started just as a small ideas are launched through different channels, notably the Qatar Entrepreneurship Conference, and are now contributing to the economy of the country, some of which have reached the stage of foreign exportation, which reflects the support and services provided by the concerned bodies in this sector to facilitate the work of entrepreneurs in an environment encouraging further production.
This sector is expected to see growth in the coming years, especially with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 nearing and in light of the investments expected to reach $5bn in the sector. This will give emerging companies and entrepreneurs in the technology sector the chance to participate effectively in this global event.
It will also support the incubation’s growth and the accelerator programme for innovative companies in the sports industry “Qatar Sportstech Accelerator,” which was launched this week and is the first of its kind in the MENA region. This will open new horizons for prosperity in the SMEs sector and diversify its fields, especially in light of providing an ideal environment to promote business and the future of emerging companies in Qatar through establishing a center that offers many events under the supervision of professional coaches. All in aim to move towards a solid foundation that launches new companies that meet the needs of the Qatari society in many fields.
QDB seeks to help entrepreneurs in accelerating the growth of their activities in this sector, this is clear in the many encouraging initiatives such as the SME Excellence List which highlights the successes of companies and presents its distinguished and innovative efforts in management. The initiative also provides a platform to honor 50 companies for its efforts in pushing development and contributing to building a diverse and sustainable economy.
Ibrahim al-Mannai said that in line with Global Entrepreneurship Week the bank launched an introduction ceremony for 50 companies to be included in the SME Excellence List as part of the initiative to create an important platform for these to exhibit their achievements and honor the best based on their performance according to set standards. The bank also organised Rowad Qatar 2018 during the Global Entrepreneurship Week to fall in line with international discussions and to reiterate the leading role of Qatar in this field.
He said these efforts by companies and their employees have been fruitful as Qatar was ranked first in the Arab region and 22nd globally on the entrepreneurship index for 2018, released by the Global Entrepreneurship Development Institute (GEDI). He added that the bank along with all partners are keen to improve the global ranking, which ensures Qatar’s place in entrepreneurship.
According to data released by Qatar Development Bank (QDB), the bank granted 417 services to Qatari entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) last year. The QDB successfully qualified more than 1,000 entrepreneurs and launched more than 500 local companies to reach international markets. The value of the approved guarantees through Al Dhameen programme amounted to QR303m in 2017, an increase of 17.4%.
The QDB also launched Entrepreneurship Awards and Conference for owners of SMEs and Qatari entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas.
Qatar Stock Exchange also launched new investment incentives to create the right environment for attracting local and international investments of this type of companies, while it plans to launch new market for trading shares of SMEs by the end of this year. All of which are concerted efforts that reflect the promising future awaiting the country’s entrepreneurial sector.
All of these efforts were reflected in Qatar’s international indicators related to this sector, with a remarkable progress registered in the business sector index, according to the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Report, when compared to the previous year 2016.
The report, prepared in co-operation with the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute (GEDI), based in Washington, DC, stated Qatar ranked 42nd in the new business ownership, 42nd in total early-stage entrepreneurial activity (TEA), 54th in the rate of ownership of established businesses and 17th in business discontinuance rate. Qatar’s ranking was in regard to entrepreneurial levels and in comparison to 54 other economies, which participated in the GEM 2017 Report.
The same report noted that the number of entrepreneurs who stated that the motivation behind their establishment of a new business is opportunity is about seven times that of the ones who said that the motivation for establishing their businesses was necessity, at 82.4% and 12%, respectively. The percentage of innovation-driven opportunity (IDO) entrepreneurs - not necessarily in Qatar - is considered to be the highest in the Middle East and the eighth globally.
Efforts at this level are not limited to Qatar Development Bank, as all parties concerned in the country are consolidating their efforts to promote the role of this sector in the development of the country’s economy. This includes those exerted by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Qatar Chamber, Qatar University and some other centres in the country.
With Qatar moving forward to diversify its economy and sources of income, hopes remain that this sector will help in the country’s gradual shift from a oil-based economy to a diversified and sustainable economy.
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