The impact of low oil prices on government revenues has not impacted budget allocation for Qatar’s small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector, an official of Qatar Development Bank (QDB) has said.
Chief executive officer Abdulaziz bin Nasser al-Khalifa said QDB’s direct funding for SMEs has exceeded QR5bn, while its Al Dameen portfolio (QDB’s partial guarantee scheme) has breached the QR1bn mark, all in 2016.
Additionally, export credit guarantee, through QDB’s export arm, Tasdeer, exceeded QR600mn during the same period, al-Khalifa said on the sidelines of the launching of the fifth edition of its ‘Al Fikra National Business Competition’.
“There is no impact in terms of SME support. On the contrary, in 2014, the government decided to merge Enterprise Qatar with QDB and the reason for this merger was not financial at that time but rather to create a single window and to bring all the services for SMEs and entrepreneurs under one umbrella.
“The impact of that merger, on the other hand, was that QDB created an example for other neighbouring countries and other international organisations to follow in terms of supporting SMEs and entrepreneurs,” he pointed out.
According to al-Khalifa, Qatar’s SME and entrepreneur scene “is flourishing,” and provides a “great opportunity” to access various support services that help build and develop innovative business ideas.
“This is the right time, the right moment, and the right opportunity for entrepreneurs because they can gain access to advisory and financial services, as well as access to competitions such as Al Fikra and to local and international markets. No one is providing all of these support services to entrepreneurs as much as it is provided in Qatar,” al-Khalifa stressed.
He also lauded the support provided by QDB’s partner banks and the Ministry of Economy and Commerce, which he described as an “enabler” of the country’s SMEs.
For the Al Fikra business competition, al-Khalifa said, QDB will provide as much as QR8mn in prizes, including incubation and advisory services. The bank will also help entrepreneurs sell their products and services to local and international markets.
“In the past four editions, we had served around 200 ideas from entrepreneurs, 14 of them have reached the final stage or have won prizes from Al Fikra. Some of them are in the incubation stage, while some are in the financing stage,” he noted.
The competition, al-Khalifa said, is scheduled to run until December this year. Improvements to this year’s edition include “new adjustments” based on a comprehensive “post-Al Fikra” assessment scheme, he added.
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