Posted on March 10, 2016

The 3rd Entrepreneurship in Economic Development forum was held under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Abdullah  bin Nasser bin Khalifa  Al Thani – Prime Minister of Qatar on 7- 8th March 2016 at Sheraton Doha Resort and Convention Hotel.

Dr. R. Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank participated in the panel “Government intervention with SMEs and entrepreneurs on 7th March 2016.“ Speaking at the Session he said “In Saudi Arabia Small and medium enterprises, (SMEs) contribute around 33 percent of GDP. In the UAE, SMEs contribute to over 60 percent of GDP. The contribution of SMEs to Qatar economy reached 16 percent. In the GCC, entrepreneurship and small business management education are very limited. There are very few graduate and concentration programmes in this area. GCC face the challenge of SME development on account of lack of entrepreneurship education. Government initiatives should be designed to encourage startups to boost the growth of SMEs and must emphasise the importance of management development. Increasing the managerial qualities of the SMEs’ human resources will lead to building trust between SMEs and their stakeholders.”

Dr. R. Seetharaman gave insight on measures taken by GCC Governments. He said “The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority is supporting SMEs with incubator programmes, which will focus on innovation. The UAE government has given thrust to the SME sector through the Khalifa Fund in Abu Dhabi and Dubai's SME programmes, which are aimed at developing small businesses. The government in Qatar is playing a very significant role in supporting and promoting SMEs by way of mandating institutions such as Qatar Development Bank and through them launching a specialised credit guarantee program under their indirect lending program, called 'Al-Dhameen', which encourages commercial banks in Qatar to lend financial support to Qatari SME by way of guaranteeing 75% -85% of the principal outstanding to new as well as existing entities. Doha Bank was one of the earliest signatories to this program and we have made major progress in promoting startups through this program. This program has helped SMEs overcome the obstacles usually faced by startups such as lack of capital, lack of collateral security and absence of a financial history. Doha Bank’s Tatweer provided financing, credit and debit cards, trade finance and electronic Banking for its SME customers. “

Dr. R. Seetharaman spoke on regulatory frameworks in GCC. He said “In Qatar the government through it's various agencies is also working on the development of a regulatory mechanism and a broad framework in order to provide a level playing field to help SMEs compete with other more established players. SMEs are being encouraged to participate and showcase their technical capabilities by bidding in various supply contracts for Qatar Shell. In addition, startup SMEs are also encouraged to approach Qatar Business Incubation Center for not only financial support but also support to set up their shop initially and large entities are encouraged to sponsor such initiatives. The new procurement law, which is expected to take effect in June, allows small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in government tender opportunities, and guarantees them 30% of the contract from national projects. To enable State of Qatar to realize its Vision 2030 the role played by the SME sector will be a strategic one. This is possible through progressive collaboration among institutions committed to the development of SME sector, through stronger Public-Private Partnerships.”

Dr. R. Seetharaman highlighted on key lessons from GCC experiences. He said “Develop an education system to promote entrepreneurship for Qatar‘s SME sector. The regulatory reforms are being developed in Qatar and other GCC. However more reforms such as QE Venture market development will also help benefit SMEs. The use of technology for benefit of SMEs. A consolidated website is expected to be launched in Qatar where bidders can apply tenders online. The new website will contain all government tenders from many government entities. In Feb 2016 Qatar Development Bank announced a ranking programme for SMEs. The Qatari SMEs which get an entry to the QDB’s rating list will be better positioned to enhance the quality of products and compete in international and local markets.”