The third live session of Enterprise Qatar's SME Evolution Program was held at Al Sharq Village & Spa and focused on the twin themes of Innovation and Leadership. Once again, entrepreneurs, business owners and general managers turned out in force for the sessions which were, for the first time, delivered in Arabic as well as English. Qatari entrepreneur, Mohammed Al-Ibrahim, the Co-Founder & MD of Semsar Group, was hosted during the session to speak about his e-business practice.
A series of presentations were conducted to shed more light on the importance of e-business and innovation for SMEs. The presentations also covered tips and tricks for e-marketing, one of today's most effective marketing channels. A significant section of the presentations was additionally dedicated to show the delegates how managers can turn into great leaders.
In turn, General Managers attending the Business Needs Workshop said they could double their businesses in size in just three years – provided they get access to first-class leadership development, e-business facilities and employee training.
Qatar’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have the potential to be powerhouses of innovation provided they get support, a top entrepreneur has told a select gathering of SME managers and owners during the third wave of Enterprise Qatar's SME Evolution Program.
Mohammed Al-Ibrahim told delegates to EQ's SME Evolution Program that, smaller companies, free from the red tape that hampers larger firms, can concentrate on building “creative corporate cultures” that deliver genuine results.
Mr. Al-Ibrahim said: “In order for the SME sector to flourish, there should be strategies to lower risks and incubate SME owners and help them grow, and this is exactly what EQ is doing. Appropriate funding is important but it is really not the only main thing. Most new businesses probably have a good product but getting it to the market in the right way is key. And this is where innovation plays a role.
“To any economy, SMEs provide the most number of employment opportunities. Innovation is really not in big companies and this is why it is important for SMEs to invest in the creative corporate cultures."
As one of Enterprise Qatar’s first major initiatives, the SME Evolution Program is aimed at improving the country’s innovation ecosystem. A free and comprehensive web-based training program for SMEs, the program is organized with Potential, EQ's partner and program designer. EQ has organized 18 webinars so far as part of its SME Evolution Program.
Local sponsors include Qtel, QSTP, HSBC Bank and QInvest. The strategic partner is GSDP and regional sponsors are AllWorld, Aramex, Google, Intel and Zawya.
Enterprise Qatar Deputy Project Director, Ms Noora Al Mannai, said: "Enterprise Qatar is spearheading a new phase of enterprise development to create a more diversified knowledge-based economy in Qatar. The SME Evolution Program is a groundbreaking initiative that brings together Qatar's ambitious innovators and entrepreneurs and a pool of highly recognized speakers to share first-hand information on how to become Qatar's next-generation business leaders."
Dr Saleh Al Naabet, of the General Secretariat of Development Planning, told workshop delegates: “In line with its mission to help chart a sustainable development path for Qatar, and the focus of the National Development Strategy on empowering the private sector and encouraging entrepreneurship as a means to create jobs and diversify the country’s economy, GSDP firmly supports Enterprise Qatar’s role to support the creation and expansion of SMEs.”
Mr Shadi Banna, Managing Partner, Potential, said: “The Business Needs workshop was held as part of the third wave of the SME Evolution Program conducted in Qatar. It aimed to identify factors that could facilitate SMEs to double their business in three years. Access to funds, leadership development, e-business, talent development and innovation were the key areas highlighted. In addition, we hosted two webinars, in Arabic and in English, to connect with a larger number of SMEs across Qatar.”
What the sponsors had to say about the event
Eng. Khalid Abdulla Al-Mansouri, Executive Director, Qtel Business Solutions said: “Qtel has always demonstrated the immediate business benefits of introducing bespoke SME solutions to small businesses, including reducing the total cost of IT and communication and enhancing productivity. Today, with more than 20 years of experience in telecommunications, and the nation’s most reliable network at our disposal, we provide tailored solutions to meet companies’ demands. Our bespoke solutions enable these companies to focus on their business; they benefit even further through our delivery of the highest levels of service and support, particularly in the areas of leadership and innovation.”
Ms Nadiya Farah, Innovation Manager at QSTP, said, "QSTP supports technology SMEs through a number of support programs. TIEP is the interface between the research environment and the commercial environment, providing a mixture of best practice tools in a multidisciplinary and multicultural environment to create innovation in the Middle East. The programme provides a robust learning experience and training in how to implement technologies in local and international markets, and for the SME sector, this translates into the creation of new enterprises that are able to deliver social and economic benefits in the global knowledge economy.”
Mr Fadi Fattal, Head of Commercial Banking at HSBC in Qatar said: “HSBC offers excellent e-channels for business banking and support SMEs through HSBCnet. This e-channel supports the set-up of a comprehensive payments and receivables platform to help the daily financial operations of all businesses. HSBC is perfectly positioned to support the growth in the SME sector in Qatar and is committed to developing this sector through a range of products and service tailored to SMEs.”
What the delegates had to say about the event
Mr Khalid Al Hemaidi, Offshore Asset Manager, Operations Group, RasGas said: "This program by EQ is extremely essential and has long been awaited for. In modern economies, SMEs contribute significantly but in this region their role is still pretty much limited due to many challenges, However it is never too late to start. In order to succeed, entrepreneurs should expect EQ's sustained support from the early feasibility studies and from turning ideas into successful realities. Additionally, training of talent and manpower is very key."
Dr Nawal Al Shaikh, CEO and Founder of 2b Communications said: "The SME Evolution Program helps provide great networking and communications opportunities and encourages Qataris, particularly women, to tap into the business market. EQ is playing a very significant and key role in developing this sector in Qatar especially when such a great programme is organized free of charge but we still expect further exposure from the side of EQ. EQ must look at new ways to promote and communicate its role so that an increased number of SMEs is encouraged to join in. EQ can also help develop a database that SMEs can benefit of. It can be a source for networking and information for whoever needs it. It can also help provide innovative ideas for entrepreneurs who are looking to setup their own businesses but are not quite sure of which industries to tap into."
Eng AbdulRahman Saleh Al-Ajji, Executive Manager of New Generation Networks (NGN) said: "NGN has been in the market for over a year and we have secured so far a considerable number of businesses in networking and telecom. When we first head about EQ we were extremely interested and eager to be part of it, EQ's support is definitely an added value to our business."
The SME Evolution Program aims at supporting SMEs in Qatar to improve their capabilities in areas such as management, business development, human resources and online marketing. EQ’s aim is to chart a sustainable development path for SMEs in Qatar, and empower the private sector to encourage entrepreneurship to create jobs and diversify the country’s economy by creating and expanding SMEs.
Enterprise Qatar was established by His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, to act as the catalyst and principle driver of Qatar’s Entrepreneurial spirit by assisting SMEs and entrepreneurs through various programs and products tailored to meet their specific needs.
Enterprise Qatar also seeks to help innovators realize and grow their projects by building a network of partnerships between new businesses and experienced managers and businessmen in both the public and private sectors.
Entrepreneurs and SMEs who wish to participate in this fantastic free program can still do so by registering at www.potential.com/qatar or by calling 8000055.