Enterprise Qatar has held a packed workshop attended by Qatar’s small and medium business owners and managers to kick off the first phase of its ‘SME Evolution Program’, a free web-based training program for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The workshop was also attended by local program sponsors: Qtel, Qatar Science & Technology Park, HSBC and QInvest, strategic partner; General Secretariat of Development Planning and regional sponsors AllWorld, Aramex, Google, Intel and Zaywa.com. Potential, the company which designed the program, was also there.
The SME Evolution Program is made up of four workshops and over 40 webinars and is free of charge for businesses in Qatar.
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.
Enterprise Qatar will support SME development by providing alternative funding, world-class training & education, business support services such as mentoring, legal counsel and financial and human resources support, access to prospecting databases, advanced IT bundles and network infrastructures, and advocating new corporate governance policies aimed at the SME sector in Qatar. EQ also aims to build a network of partnerships between new businesses and experienced managers and businessmen in both the public and private sectors.
Ms. Noora Al Mannai, Enterprise Qatar Project Director, said: “The SME sector is the foundation upon which economic growth is built. Enterprise Qatar seeks to provide an environment that will enable business owners and project developers to take their ideas forward towards excellence and success, and to gain the expertise they need to grow their businesses”.
Dr Saleh Al Naabet, of the General Secretariat of Development Planning, told workshop delegates: “Driven by our mission of preparing a roadmap for sustainable growth for Qatar, and focusing the National Development Strategy on enabling the private sector to encourage a spirit of leadership as a way to create job opportunities and to diversify the country’s economy, the General Secretariat fully supports Enterprise Qatar’s goal of encouraging the creation and growth of the SME Sector.”
Mr Shadi Al Banna, Managing Partner of Potential, the company which designed the program, drew attention to the fact that “our partners in Qatar play a vital role in the significant transformation being witnessed by the SME sector, within the continuous changes being noted in the country’s business environment in general.”
Mr Al Banna also announced that the program is designed in such a way so as to support SMEs and encourage them to move forward successfully while adapting to changes. He said “We’re fully confident that SMEs in Qatar will benefit to large extent from this opportunity to engage with our partners and to exploit new and innovative ways to develop their performance to become large enterprises.”
The sponsors’ point of view
Eng. Khalid Al Abdulla Al-Mansouri, Executive Director of Business Solutions at Qtel, said that Enterprise Qatar’s initiative is very significant for the small business sector in Qatar. One of its main benefits, he said, is in providing an opportunity for the exchange of best practices and new ideas that would better enable the development of enterprises in Qatar.
Emphasizing the fact that Qtel had conducted specialized research into this sector to guarantee continuous growth and development, he said the company will continue to work to create new solutions aimed specifically at SMEs.
Mr Bowman J. Heiden, Innovation Director at Qatar Science & Technology Park, said that the vision of the Technology Projects Management Program is to encourage participants to create initiatives in Qatar that provide technological advancements, and to establish enterprises which will have a positive economic and social impact in local and international markets, drawing attention to the fact that the necessary skills to implement this are built-in to the program.
Mr Fadi Fattal, HSBC's Head of Commercial Banking in Qatar, which plays a pivotal role in the development of Qatar’s SME sector, said that the bank can help, support and assist the SME as it continues to develop in the local market, particularly through sharing international best practices. He added that HSBC is committed to the SME sector and is capable of providing cross-border financial services through its international network and field experience.
Mr Anuj Khanna, Head of Investment Management at QInvest, announced that under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifah Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, and His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifah Al-Thani, the Heir Apparent, Qatar has paved the way for a new phase of development assistance to create a more diversified economy.
Mr Khanna stressed that the objective is to create an environment in which talent can thrive and help grow businesses and, in turn, create a diversified and dynamic economy.
What the participants said:
Mr Salim bin Mohammed Al-Halabdi, Chairman of Dananir Real Estate & Construction, complimented Enterprise Qatar’s initative, saying that the workshop was “extremely useful” for his company, which only started operations in 2005. He added that the lectures were “extremely valuable” and had revealed some tricks of the trade vis-à-vis working in the market.
He praised one of the lecturers who had discussed his own experiences in the business world, and who called on participants to follow his example and be patient because profits won’t materialize instantly, and you will reap the rewards for your hard work in the fullness of time.
Mr Al-Halabdi said he hoped that Enterprise Qatar will provide evaluation seminars, during which ideas could be put forward to avoid mistakes by start-ups.
Ms Amani Nashatt, Founder and Managing Partner of Grasp Trading, praised the organizers for “providing essential information that was relevant to a start-up that is only 18 months old.”
She revealed that the lectures showed a new side of dealing with markets' realities, from the point of view of finding creative products and marketing them effectively with the aim of achieving the right degree of market penetration.
Mr Mohammed Ashkanani, of Al Maseera Construction & Trading, said: “The lectures were invaluable in putting start-ups on the right track, within the new global economic realities.”
He said that he was looking forward to the upcoming lectures, which will provide support to plug the gaps faced by start-ups, particularly concerning the financial and planning side of things.
At the end of the workshop, Qtel created a buzz when they presented BlackBerry handsets to selected participants.
Enterprise Qatar calls on all SMEs and entrepreneurs who wish to participate in the upcoming training program to register at www.potential.com/qatar.