Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Qatar are expected to gain from society’s gradual shift to the ‘new normal’ after the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the Senior Partner and Managing Director of global consultancy Roland Berger Qatar has said.
“We strongly believe that Qatar’s SMEs will continue their path of success after Covid-19. In fact, SMEs in Qatar could even get out stronger of this crisis, similar to the unjust blockade situation. After Covid-19, there will be a tendency to reduce the dependency on global supply chains and associated risks,” Dr.Fabian Engels told Gulf Times.
“SMEs will play a key role in building these capabilities in Qatar. At the same time, Covid-19 can be used to accelerate developments in areas, such as e-commerce. Many of our clients in the wholesale and retail sector push for digital solutions and new delivery approaches to reach customers despite ongoing restrictions,” he stressed.
Dr.Engels emphasised that a healthy and prosperous SME sector is crucial for any economy as these companies represent a key pillar in the creation of employment opportunities, in the development of innovative technologies, and in the acceleration of GDP growth.
“As part of the Qatar National Vision 2030, economic diversification and private sector growth with particular focus on SMEs are two key pillars of the current agenda,” Dr. Engels noted.
From a short term perspective, Dr. Engels highlighted that the health of employees and customers has the highest priority.
“SMEs have to introduce new hygiene procedures, such as cleaning plans for example, to ensure safe working for the time when restrictions are gradually lifted. The preparation for this needs to start now,” he said.
Another highlight is liquidity, which is a key for the coming months, according to Dr.Engels. “Cash is king! It is required to look at liquidity conserving and cost saving measures in order to come out of the current crisis stronger than local and international competitors.”
“SMEs will need to analyse the long-term effects of Covid-19. There will be a ‘new normal’ for social and economic domains. How do customer behaviours change? Which supply chains are best for the future? The answers of such questions will present further challenges but they will definitely also create new opportunities for SMEs in Qatar to prosper after Covid-19,” Dr.Engels said.
Dr.Engels also said tech startups in Qatar can make the most of the health crisis by using it as an opportunity to offer or produce innovations that could address the needs of the situation and the general public.
“Covid-19 has changed almost everything and will not only have an impact on the short term view but also significantly affect several aspects in the long run. However, change always comes along with new opportunities and new markets appear. As this pandemic continues to impact almost every part of our lives, there are going to be major opportunities for existing companies and new startup companies,” Dr.Engels pointed out.
Dr.Engels added: “While most large organisations have the challenge of slower procedures, more complex bureaucracies and hierarchies, the coronavirus and the changed ways on how we master our daily life and business environment provides significant opportunities for fast moving and agile organisations, such as startups.
“First examples have already shown startup opportunities coming out of Covid-19: some are opportunistic, others will shape the market for a long time. This applies also for Qatari technology startups, which are supported and funded by several governmental or private initiatives. However, we also have to keep in mind that the success of startups goes quite often hand-in-hand with its scalability and is dependent on the expansion to other countries, especially when the domestic market is limited in size.”
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