By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter
In addition to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), local farmers in Qatar are also expected to gain from the 14 industrial facilities to be established under Qatar Development Bank’s “Jahiz 2” initiative.
“QDB has provided 14 new industrial facilities to support the growth of the food and beverages sector in Qatar,” CEO Abdulaziz bin Nasser al-Khalifa announced following a workshop on Jahiz 2 on Monday.
“The initiative was an offshoot of Jahiz 1, launched several months ago, and features 32 industrial facilities aimed at supporting several industry sectors, including chemicals, plastics and wood and electronic materials,” he explained.
The Jahiz initiative focuses on leasing complete and equipped facilities to Qatari SMEs and entrepreneurs to encourage the establishment of innovative and environmentally-friendly businesses.
The initiative also aims to accelerate the trend towards a diversified and knowledge-based economy to achieve sustainable economic development, which is considered a key element of Qatar National Vision 2030.
“The Jahiz initiative’s first phase was a huge success, with a large number of entrepreneurs applying for the benefits provided to them. We expect Jahiz 2 to achieve similar success. There are now 46 industrial facilities serving five different industrial sectors, all of which was accomplished within a few months,” he said.
Asked about the role of Jahiz 2 in providing opportunities to local farms in Qatar, al-Khalifa told Gulf Times that one of the main pillars of QDB’s evaluation process “is to ensure that the project fills the gap for local needs”.
“We have synchronised the local farms with the raw material requirements to ensure that their products are aligned with the end product of entrepreneurs and SMEs,” he said.
“We always believe that the private sector is smart enough to come up with opportunities that make sense, capitalising on the local farms and how they can transform their produce into competitive products that could be sold in both the domestic and international markets,” he explained.
Qatar Development Bank head of Business Development Saleh al-Khulaifi said that QDB’s evaluation process also determined if SMEs could source their raw materials locally.
“When two SMEs apply for the initiative, it would be very hard to select if they are outstanding and complex projects. But since one of the criteria requires sourcing products locally, the applicant that complies with the criteria gets extra points because this means that the applicant creates business, which is why we are incentivising entrepreneurs who are in talks with different farmers,” he said.
Al-Khalifa said QDB would start receiving applications from mid-April until September 15. This also signals the second stage where applications are evaluated.
He said the evaluation process would take nine weeks, which would be followed by personal interviews with QDB, lasting for six weeks. The winners will be announced in February 2017.
Al-Khalifa said each facility spans 2,230sq m and is divided between two floors. The ground area is 1,784sq m, while the administrative office floor measures 446sq m, leased at QR5sq m per month.
“QDB also supports the winning entrepreneurs by providing a package of advisory and financing programmes that give them the best possible start,” he added.
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