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BY MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: As part of its efforts to promote and facilitate the growth and development of small businesses, Qatar will soon have a clear-cut definition of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to overcome the difficulty of business categorisation, a problem generally faced by local institutions including private lenders, said a senior official of Enterprise Qatar (EQ) yesterday.
EQ, working under the Ministry of Business and Trade, enables entrepreneurs and SMEs to achieve greater success by developing a positive ecosystem for startups and SMEs.
“We have already discussed the initial definition (draft-definition) of SMEs with all the stakeholders, including concerned government institutions and private lenders, just a couple of weeks ago. And this week we are collecting their feedback so that the same could be sent to higher authorities for final approval”, Noora Al Mannai, the CEO of EQ, told The Peninsula on the sidelines of the launching ceremony of Qatar National Business Plan Competition, Al Fikra 2013, at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel here.
Asked to comment more about the draft-definition of SMEs and expected date, she remained tight lipped about it, and said: “We are still in the process of receiving feedback from the stakeholders. We will document their suggestions, and sent the final draft for approval to the concerned authorities by the end of this week. It should not take much time. Once it is approved it will be announced.”
Al Fikra is a national tool to spot the entrepreneurial talents, identify the opportunities and invest both time and resources to drive them in constructive structured mechanism to a stage of self-sufficiency and independent growth.
Al Fikra is now an annual exercise held every year with an aim to encourage and support budding entrepreneurs. Last year, according to Al Mannai, more than 400 entrepreneurs participated in the competition, among them, 35 percent represented the technology sector followed by the services and hospitality industry with 29 and 11 percent respectively.
And this year, EQ has entered into a partnership with the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF), of the Pan Arab Region with an aim to provide local entrepreneurs with a platform to better compete alongside the world’s leading entrepreneurs, and expecting an overwhelming response. “This is an executive, educational and coaching programme specifically designed for Qatari entrepreneurs and students enabling them to deliver business plans to establish new and successful private businesses,” added Al Mannai.
Under Al Fikra creative and innovative ideas will be recognized and supported by EQ, MITEF, Silatech, the SILA Angel Investment Network, business development agencies and its academic partners — a Qatar-based consortium of higher education institutions including Carnegie Mellon University, Qatar University, College of North Atlantic and others.
The business plan competition invites undergraduates, graduate students and professionals to submit new venture plans for review by a panel of entrepreneurs and experts. The participants will be offered a chance to access cash and non-cash prizes that help them to be successful and competitive both here and abroad. This year’s Al Fikra programme will run from January 23 to April 25, but the last date of registration for applicants is February 4, 2013.