PROP­PING UP THE SMALL GUY

Qatar Today - - BUSINESS > VIEWPOINT -

De­vel­op­ing small and medi­um­sized en­ter­prises (SMEs) lies at the heart of Qatar Na­tional Vi­sion 2030, the de­vel­op­ment plan guid­ing the coun­try away from its re­liance on hy­dro­car­bons and to­wards a knowl­edge-based econ­omy. With the first SME pro­grammes now firmly es­tab­lished, ex­perts hope to see ef­forts stepped up to make busi­ness ed­u­ca­tion a pri­or­ity at schools and col­leges.

QATAR STEPS UP SUP­PORT FOR SMALL BUSI­NESSES, AND A DRIVE TO EN­COUR­AGE ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN QATAR IS GAIN­ING PACE, AS EF­FORTS TO STREAM­LINE THE START-UP PROCESS YIELD RE­SULTS.

Tar­get­ing fund­ing

One of the in­sti­tu­tions play­ing a key role in sup­port­ing SMEs, par­tic­u­larly those founded by new grad­u­ates, is the So­cial De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre (SDC), which aims at pro­mot­ing em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and youth em­pow­er­ment. “The main goal will be to en­cour­age entrepreneurship among young peo­ple, so they can act as am­bas­sadors for pri­vate sec­tor de­vel­op­ment,” Ab­dulla bin Ibrahim Al Ajail, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the SDC, told OBG. The cen­tre of­fers a mix of fi­nan­cial and tech­ni­cal sup­port rang­ing from pro­mo­tion and con­sult­ing to mar­ket­ing and train­ing at its Tan­mia for Small and Medium En­ter­prises fa­cil­ity.

The SDC is cur­rently di­rect­ing its as­sis­tance pro­grammes at small-scale, or “mi­cro”, en­trepreneurs and those be­tween the ages of 18 and 40, as well as home-based busi­nesses, with the cen­tre's fund­ing arm, Rasameel, of­fer­ing in­ter­est-free loans of up to QR500,000 ($137,400) for ap­pli­cants who meet its cri­te­ria. An at-home in­cu­ba­tion pro­gramme has also been launched, which al­lows mi­cro-busi­nesses to chan­nel their prod­ucts into lo­cal mar­kets and souqs.

Many of the cen­tre's clients run mi­crobusi­nesses, which usu­ally have 15 staff or fewer, and a turnover of un­der QR10 mil­lion ($2.75 mil­lion). As th­ese busi­nesses

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