Posted on March 08, 2016

Public and private sector leaders as well as renowned academicians from the region and beyond emphasised the need to further create relevant academic programs and conducive government policies that will continue to encourage the development of entrepreneurial skills and capabilities amongst aspiring business leaders in the region.

This call was made in the presentations and discussions conducted throughout the two-day 3rd Entrepreneurship in Economic Development Forum, which wrapped up  yesterday. Organised by Qatar University and Qatar Development Bank, the event took place at the Sheraton Doha Resort and Convention Hotel in Qatar on the 7th and 8th of March 2016. It was held under the Patronage of HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Prime Minister of the State of Qatar and inaugurated by HE Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassim Al Thani Minister of Economy & Trade.

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“The academic community aims to provide the necessary knowledge and skills required for the success of tomorrow’s business leaders,” said Dr. Khalid Shams AbdelKader, Associate Dean of the College of Business and Economics at Qatar University. “Through open lines of communication with the business community and government authorities, we can effectively integrate the valuable lessons shared by successful entrepreneurs as well as existing economic and business policies into our curriculum on entrepreneurship. At the same time, through academic research, the academic community can provide scholarly inputs to the public sector in the crafting of new policies that can further open up opportunities for entrepreneurial activities.”

The second and final day of the Forum began with a presentation by Amro Ahmed - Qatar Local Content & SME Manager of Qatar Shell, where he explained the process on how SMEs can tender to win business opportunities in Qatar Shell Supply Chain. He has also assured that Qatar Shell is already working with many SME’s in Qatar especially that local prices are more competitive then foreign ones.

This was followed by a Success Story in a Q&A format with Mohammed Jaffar, founder of the E-Commerce business “Talabat.com” from Kuwait. During the session, Jaffar revealed some secrets to the success of “Talabat.com” which eventually led to the purchase of Talabat.com by the German ecommerce group Rocket Internet for US$170 million in 2015 and to the success of his other companies.

The first part of the third panel discussion of the two-day Forum followed next, with Mohammed Jalahma, Acting Manager Export and Trade at Qatar Development Bank and. Dr. Maher Hakim, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Melon University, exchanging views on the theme of ‘Financing Entrepreneurs & Entrepreneurial Venture’. Dr. Nader Kabbani, Director of Research & Policy at Silatech acted as moderator for the discussions, which focused on sub-topics such as ‘Obtaining Funds for Your Venture - Conditions, options and requirements’ and ‘Institutional financing: the pros and cons’.

Meanwhile, the second part of the third panel discussion zeroed in on the theme ‘Financial Inclusion: Institutional Financing, Angel Investors, Crowdfunding, and other sources’. Nizar Darwish, Manager of Investment at QDB and Ahmed Laiali, Global Ambassador of the International Business Innovation Association (IBIA) expounded on the role of angel investors and self-financing, partnership ventures and crowdfunding. Prof. Mahmoud Abdultaif Khalil of the Qatar University Incubation Center acted moderator in the discussions.

The afternoon session was then highlighted by two keynote speeches from Ramzan Al Naimi, Creative and Branding consultant of Al Jazeera Network, and Ms. Munira Al Dosari, Founding Partner of Girnass Games Application – Qatar. Al Naimi spoke about ‘Brand Identity and the Means of Social Communication – Traditional vs. Contemporary’, while Ms. Al Dosari talked about ‘Effective Methods of Using Social Media to Ensure the Success of Entrepreneurial Ventures – Social Media.’

The fourth and last panel discussion for the two-day Forum followed next with Dr. Tarek Coury, Senior Economist at Silatech; Bilal Randeree, Managing Director of Qatar Living; and Emad Al  Khaja, CEO of Injaz Qatar exchanging views on the theme ‘Building an Effective Entrepreneurship Ecosystem – Do we have what it takes?’. Throughout their discussion, they focused on the types of institutions and their stated objectives, assessment of activities and achievements and the question what needs to be done to improve their effectiveness. Ms. Yasmeen Hasan, Entrepreneurship Manager at Bedaya Center, acted as moderator of the panel discussion.

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This year’s Forum recommendations:

- Activate the Private Sector Role and reinforce its role to become the main engine for the economy.

- Adopt policies to create financial immunity without affecting the economic and social development projects.

- Reinforce the culture and the entrepreneurship practices in the society and include Entrepreneurship in the academic curriculum.

- Offer workshops and trainings for entrepreneurs to overcome obstacles and take their companies to the international level.

- Create balance between the public and private sector to enhance the role of SMEs.

- Activate the role of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry to pave the way for entrepreneurs to reach new markets.

- Offer Seed Funding facilities for university students who have innovative ideas they want to implement.

- Create a National Innovation System that can help in diversifying the income sources.

- Open new financing sources for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas.

- Mapping & Building Policies for Crowd Funding.

Key sponsors and partners of this year’s event included Qatar Shell as Diamond Sponsor; Commercial Bank as Platinum Sponsor; Manateq as Economic Zones Partner, Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) as Innovation Partner; Ahli Bank and Doha Bank as Gold Sponsors; Arab Bank as Silver Sponsor; Mannai Corporation, Mashreq Bank, HSBC and Barwa Bank as Bronze Sponsors; and Creative Design as Social Media Partner.

Other partners were Bedaya, Silatech and Injaz as Supporting Partners; BQ Magazine as B2B Bilingual Magazine; QIM the Official Local Newspaper; Zoom as Production Partner; and Qmin and Marhaba as Media Partners.

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