Qatar Development Bank (QDB) is seeking to identify new opportunities within the tourism sector that further benefits small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
As part of this, QDB is planning to "reassess" its previous study done in 2015 with Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), which had identified some 32 opportunities for SMEs and other Qatari entrepreneurs, according to QDB CEO Abdulaziz N al-Khalifa.
The senior QDB official joined some senior QTA officials during a visit to the pop-up shops at the Mall of Qatar on Wednesday.
“We want to reassess it again this year with QTA,” he stressed. “This is part of the theme that we are trying to create by identifying the gaps that exist within the tourism market and then converting these gaps into opportunities for the local industries and SMEs.”
The two institutions forged a partnership in 2014 to launch an initiative aimed at bringing business opportunities to Qatari SMEs in the tourism sector.
QDB and QTA previously identified six fast-track projects to bridge the gap in the market: luxury dhow dining cruise, luxury coach, 4x4 leasing company, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events), ticketing and mobile information centres, and SME cottage markets.
QDB and QTA are also supporting pop-up shops, owned by Qatari entrepreneurs, participating in the month-long Shop Qatar festival, which runs until February 7, it is learnt.
“This provides access for Qatari SMEs to sell (their products) directly to the market, and get feedback from shoppers,” al-Khalifa explained.
“Then it gives shoppers access to authentic Qatari products that are produced by Qatari entrepreneurs.”
He said they will also continue to expand their programmes such as Al Dhameen, an indirect loan facility established by QDB to guarantee commercial bank loans to private sector companies, and Al Fikra competition, a joint initiative to educate entrepreneurs, encourage putting up new companies, and foster a culture of entrepreneurship in Qatar.
“We are continuing our advancement within the Al Dhameen programme. We have exceeded QR1bn in terms of guarantees; we supported more than 500 entrepreneurs and SMEs,” noted the CEO, who also expects this programme to grow bigger and provide access to funding for entrepreneurs.
He added that Al Fikra competition in 2016 had seen five Qatari entrepreneurs bagging the awards for coming up with innovative ideas. “We will do it again this year.”
QDB will also continue conducting workshops through its various arms and partners such as the Bedaya Centre and Qatar Business and Incubation Centre, among others.
“We believe firmly in QDB that we have to work with partners. Hence, this strong partnership we have with QTA provides Qatari entrepreneurs access to the market right away,” al-Khalifa added.