Bahrain: Drive to support small businesses gathers momentum
BAHRAIN: DRIVE TO SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES GATHERS MOMENTUM
New report to explore Kingdom’s bid to bring employers and local workforce together
Bahrain, 6 June 2010: A new wave of opportunities is emerging in Bahrain as the country’s economy brings through a number of blossoming sectors which could benefit the local workforce, business leaders and the Kingdom as a whole, according to the a minister.
Speaking exclusively to Oxford Business Group (OBG), the global publishing, research and consultancy firm, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Chairman of Tamkeen, Nazar Sedeq Al Baharna said the government was channeling efforts into raising the profile of emerging sectors, such as information and communication technologies (ICT) and services, which offered plenty of potential for development.
“We have found that the financial market is mature and does not require a great deal of support, whereas the tourism industry, ICT and other services need further development,” he said. “We see a lot of opportunity in hospitality, nursing and specialised roles in technology.”
Al Baharna acknowledged that the Kingdom faced a two-pronged challenge in trying to convince Bahrainis to explore the opportunities available in the private sector, while simultaneously urging businesses to hire more locals. He said that Tamkeen was taking steps to address the challenge.
“To help this happen, we are trying to increase the number of Bahrainis available to work in the private sector, while also looking at how to increase their salaries in the private sector,” he said.
The full interview with Al Baharna will appear in The Report: Bahrain 2010, OBG’s forthcoming guide on the Kingdom’s economic activity and investment opportunities. OBG’s report will include a detailed, sector-by-sector guide for foreign investors, together with a wide range of interviews with the most prominent political, economic and business leaders.
Al Baharna also called for a change of mindset towards small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), saying there was a tendency to overlook the contribution they made to the economy. “Culturally, we need to change the way people look at SMEs because the majority of people see value only in large corporations,” he said. “But the reality is that SMEs form 97% to 98% of total businesses in Bahrain, so should occupy the majority of our focus.”
He told OBG that Tamkeen aimed to help SMEs leverage their overall contribution to the economy through a series of collaborative efforts which would also produce more job opportunities.
“The development of SMEs not only helps the economy to expand and diversify, but also has the increased employment of Bahrainis at its core, which is why, to date, Tamkeen has invested over BD 80 million in projects targeting more than 22,000 Bahrainis and 6,000 SMEs,” he said.
Al Baharna said Tamkeen planned to establish entrepreneurship grants and funding feasibility studies in partnership with Bahrain Development Bank (BDB) as part of the Kingdom’s National Economic Strategy, which the bank would oversee on a day-to-day level.
The Report: Bahrain 2010 will mark the culmination of more than six months of on-the-ground research by a team of analysts from OBG. It will provide information on opportunities for foreign direct investment into Bahrain’s economy and will be a guide to the many facets of the Kingdom, including its macroeconomics, infrastructure, political landscape, banking and sectoral developments. The report will be available in print form or online.