Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani, Minister of Industry and Trade and Chair of the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council, confirmed that the Kingdom of Bahrain attaches great importance to the small and medium business sector by consolidating its pillars by issuing stimulus legislation and laws. and the development of infrastructure to provide an economic environment that attracts investment and creates more quality opportunities for citizens. In order to achieve the objectives of the comprehensive development process led by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the Great King of the country, and with the support of the government led by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister.
This happened during a press conference held by the Minister to launch the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council’s work plan (updated 2.0) for the years (2022-2026) in the presence of members of the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council.
Al-Zayani said the council’s updated work plan for the years (2022-2026) contributes to the complement of the economic recovery plan, and includes 27 initiatives, including 7 initiatives that complement the founding plan for the years (2018-2022), as it intends to increase the contribution of small and medium-sized enterprises to the domestic product, the total to 45%, increase its contribution to national exports to 25%, and increase the number of Bahraini workers in small and medium-sized enterprises of 43,000 in 2022 to 47,000 by 2026, through five main strategic axes, facilitating financing, facilitating market entry, simplifying business setup, skills development and innovation.
Regarding the first axis related to the facilitation of financing, Al-Zayani stated that it includes 6 main initiatives summarized in the facilitation of export financing services, the crowdfunding platform, the public procurement financing program for small and medium enterprises, banking solutions for women, the credit rating of small and medium enterprises, and the Fund of Funds (Oasis).
As for the second axis, which aims to facilitate market entry, Al-Zayani indicated that it includes 9 major initiatives summarized in supporting commercial franchising, expanding the scope of export solutions and partnerships, allocating certain types of government acquisitions and tenders to small businesses. and medium-sized enterprises, which support “Al Adheed” partnerships, promote small and medium-sized enterprises, national exporters’ guide, packaging and branding support, export week launch and subcontracting.
Regarding the third axis, related to the simplification of business start-up procedures, Al-Zayani explained that it includes 5 main initiatives, which are summarized in the database of small and medium enterprises – the second phase, banking solutions for emerging and small and medium enterprises , the law of small and medium enterprises, the “Tijara” platform, the law of secure transactions and the Register Electronic Guarantee.
Regarding the fourth axis, which aims to develop skills, the Minister mentioned that it includes 4 main initiatives, namely talent development, intensive training for government tenders, an e-learning platform for exports, and consultation for exports, adding that the Fifth axis, related to the promotion of innovation, is based on 3 main initiatives: the promotion of innovation and the protection of intellectual property in business incubators and accelerators, the establishment of the Bahrain Center for Innovation and Technology Transfer, and the launch of the open innovation platform (content challenge).
In the same context, the Minister indicated that the Council has achieved a number of achievements, which are represented in the issuance of a ministerial decision to classify micro, small and medium enterprises, taking into account the annual income of the institution in addition to workers, whereby it was found that 94% of commercial records are classified according to They are micro, small and medium enterprises, with micro enterprises making up 47%, small enterprises 41% and medium size enterprises 6%.
He said that all this was achieved by creating a fertile environment for the incubation of small and medium enterprises and accelerating their growth by adopting the activity of business incubators and accelerators and the requirements thereof to support business establishment, as the number of licensed incubators and accelerators has reached 28. , and the number of incubated beginners approached 1,000, in addition to The Technology Skills Development Initiative, where more than 5 102 Bahrainis benefited from more than 119 certificates to develop technological skills to attract technological professionals and the Kingdom of Bahrain a center for emerging and innovative enterprises.
Al-Zayani also mentioned that a special system has been launched to register small and medium enterprises to grant them a classification certificate to qualify them for preference in a number of development programs. Small and medium enterprises were able to award tenders estimated at 111 million Bahraini dinars, as more than 187 small and medium enterprises benefited from more than 350 tenders among 1,760 public tenders, and some 430 institutions competed to seize these opportunities.
He added that the council had also launched initiatives involving the marketing of the local product, such as the launch of the “Made in Bahrain” brand and the launch of “Bahrain Exports” to promote local exports in the regional and facilitate global markets. In the supply of Bahraini products and services beyond the borders of the local market, and the opening of prospects for them in 60 markets, with a total value of 184 million US dollars in export transactions since the launch of Bahrain’s exports, including the service sector about 10% of the total. export transactions, and 59 classifications were recorded For products and services, the number of export sectors was 11, while the total export value of the retail sector was 1.5 million US dollars, and the percentage of female entrepreneurs makes up 30% of the total. exporters who benefit from Bahrain’s export services and solutions.
With regard to the Waha Fund of Funds, which was established in 2018 to support emerging funds specializing in venture capital investments in the Middle East and North Africa, the Minister pointed out that it is a government initiative working to to invest funds, which in turn invest directly and play a strategic role in Financing activities in the early stages and growth stages of existing projects in the Middle East and North Africa, noting that the value of direct investment 11.5 million US dollars, and 4 investment capital offices were based in Bahrain, and 42 partnerships were submitted to the Fund.
He added that the number of Bahraini start-ups in which the fund invested was about 17, while the emerging institutions that expanded through the investment portfolio amounted to 19, and the fund through its investments was able to provide about 340 jobs, in addition to the maintenance of 12 investment funds In its $ 100 million financing portfolio.
The Minister stated that several initiatives have been launched to build the capacity of small and medium enterprises, and global professional training programs, as it was recently announced the launch of the Small and Medium Enterprise Academy in collaboration with the Bahrain Institute for Banking and Financial Studies to raise awareness and provide small and medium business owners with the skills needed to manage their projects effectively. Ittidar, in addition to building the capabilities of 1000 institutions in cloud computing, to encourage innovation and digital transformation, and to enable institutions to ensure the continuity and sustainability of their businesses.
The Minister noted that one of the most important opportunities the Council seeks to provide is to improve the presence of small and medium-sized enterprises in local, regional and global markets by increasing the percentage of their participation in government tenders and auctions, and initiatives that stimulate access to global markets, pointing out that the Tender and Auction Board recently joined as a permanent member of the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Board with the aim of launching development initiatives that contribute to building the capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises. medium enterprises and improving their competitiveness.
He explained that the national economy in the Kingdom of Bahrain is at the stage of a phase of promising economic opportunities and targeted quality initiatives that require the small and medium business sector to be prepared with a competitive and sustainable digital perspective by the development of regulations and laws and the creation of resources and infrastructure to serve innovation and creativity to enable emerging, small and medium enterprises to grow and expand, and that the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Board will redouble efforts to ensure the success of its initiatives, which will contribute to improving the climate of entrepreneurship and investment and consolidating the concepts of development among small and medium enterprises in a way that increases their competitiveness and sustainability.