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Small and Medium Enterprises take center stage in Qatar

The future and needs of small and medium enterprises were the focus of much intellectual debate in the month of March, with the “2nd Entrepreneurship in Economic Development Forum”, the “Qatar Chamber 1st SME Conference” and the “Meed Qatar Projects” all debating the merits and requirements of these new enterprises.

All were in agreement of the central role SMEs shall play in the development of the nation. With nearly USD 30 billion in projects awarded within 2014 alone, and the latest numbers showing the total value of all projects to be executed in the country at USD 276.3 billion, it is through the support of flexible and creative entrepreneurial enterprises that these projects, as well as the economy as a whole, may be completed. The diversity and empowerment that SMEs bring to the local economy are also inline with the Qatar National Vision 2030.

Much has been accomplished in sup-porting the SMEs, with the Qatar Development Bank alone reporting that it has aided and been consulted by nearly 260 small and medium enterprises, providing direct funding for these projects to the tune of QAR 3.4 billion. These SMEs have also shown tremendous growth, with supported SMEs growing their revenues by 53% during 2014.

Much still needs to be done to support these nascent companies as they continue to develop. Among the calls for assistance were recommendations to increase awareness programs, both to the general public as well as new entrepreneurs. One of the speakers at the Entrepreneurship Forum insisted that in addition to financial incentives, new business owners needed guidance in how to manage their operations, while Qatari youths need to be made aware of the advantages of entrepreneurship while being steered away from “easy” jobs in civil service or with larger corporates. These new entrants into the economy were advised to avoid looking at SMEs as a way to earn money quickly and rather to take a long-term view for their businesses.

Additionally, many stated that the procedures to obtain licenses for SMEs should be simplified to encourage new entrepreneurs.

Among the calls for assistance were recommendations to increase awareness programs, both to the general public as well as new entrepreneurs

They emphasized the need to enact legislation and executive resolutions to provide the proper support to this sector, as per the instructions issued by His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar.

Meanwhile, the state has already begun work towards providing for the logistics needs of the SMEs in the country, most recently with the Jery Al Samur, providing 21 plots of land ranging in size from approximately 11,000 to 36,500 square meters. This comes on the heels of the award of three different plots of land by Manateq, to be developed into economic zones for SMEs, among them the over half a million square meter facility to be constructed and managed by Gulf Warehousing Company.