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Posted On: 19 June 2019 04:45 pm
Updated On: 23 June 2019 11:30 am

What is Al Fikra?

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The Qatar National Business Competition, better known as Al Fikra, is an educational and coaching programme designed for Qatari led start-ups and entrepreneurs, enabling them to develop business ideas that will be converted into successful private businesses that add value to Qatar’s Economy.

QNB was the platinum sponsor of the 7th edition of the Al Fikra competition, which was held over four months, from February 2019 to June 2019. The award ceremony of Al Fikra held yesterday at The St. Regis Doha where H.E. Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry (centre); Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa, CEO of QDB; and other officials were present along with the award winners.

Al Fikra has been designed in such a way that it can encourage people to start their own business and also create a culture of entrepreneurship in the country, and it reflects the value of owning business relationships with investment and banking institutions and strategic partners.

The programme runs over a 4-month period and, during this period, creative and innovative ideas are recognised, developed and supported by Qatar Development Bank and its strategic partners throughout the different stages of their development.

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Al Fikra award ceremony 2019
(H.E Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry (centre); Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa, CEO of QDB; and other officials with the award winners at Al Fikra award ceremony in Doha on 18 June 2019)

According to His Excellency (H.E.) Minister of Commerce and Industry Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari:

"Al Fikra seeks to educate, empower and develop business ideas for young people and promote a culture of entrepreneurship in Qatar...Al Fikra has demonstrated innovative and practical projects that reflect the full potential of Qatari youth and their ability to play an active role in achieving sustainable economic development in Qatar, especially when they find someone who guides and leads them to the right path."

His Excellency has also lauded QBD's role in facilitating and encouraging young entrepreneurs:

"QDB has made a strong effort to provide young people with the necessary skills to participate in the establishment of their companies and projects, through programs such as Al Fikra, which is an important milestone in the life of professional entrepreneurs in Qatar.

About Al Fikra

In 2013, Enterprise Qatar, MITEF, Silatech, and Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar launched Al Fikra Qatar’s Business Plan Competition, a joint initiative to educate entrepreneurs. Various partners and sponsors from the academic and business associations and community in Qatar were included as key stakeholders in the process. In 2013 the competition attracted 127 applicants from both professional and academic communities. And most recently in 2018, the competition attracted over 290 applicants who submitted 67 business plans

Al Fikra’s 2019 version is more enhanced to serve the entrepreneurial ecosystem through different financial and non-financial services provided and supported by Qatar Development Bank. As well as highlighting various challenges that entrepreneurs can solve through commercial ideas.

(Al Fikra award ceremony 2019)
(Al Fikra award ceremony 2019)

Who can be part of Al Fikra?

Students, professionals, and entrepreneurs with business ideas for Qatar. For Teams (3-5 members​​​ only) of residents living in Qatar, a Qatari partner per team is required in order to set a business with a legal structure that could be operated and registered in the state of Qatar.

What are the Al Fikra competition stages?

The competition is divided into two phases: the selection of an idea and plan, and a final assessment phase. The committee, which is composed of 10 to 12 members of the academic and business community, as well as QDB officials, will evaluate the ideas presented during the competition and select the winning groups.

What are the categories of Al Fikra?

1. Al Fikra Startup

The 'Al Fikra Startup' category is a competition for general emerging business ideas.

2. Mashrouie

'Mashrouie' is the category of the Al Fikra competition dedicated to university students within Qatar to develop and submit their business plans. The goal of this competition is to enable young generations to develop their entrepreneurial spirit by embracing challenges when developing a sustainable business plan. The focus of “Mashrouie” is to give future minds the opportunity to expand the important set of skills related to leadership, innovation, time management, and communication, in order to grow and evolve in the business world.

If you happen to have the same goal, then you should join 'Mashrouie' and share your vision with like-minded entrepreneurs. Team sare made up of 3 to 5 members that include at least one Qatari member in order to put together a successful business plan.

Al Fikra award ceremony 2019
(Al Fikra award ceremony 2019)

3. Al Fikra Challenges

'Al Fikra Challenges' is the Al Fikra category for the best business plan that could provide perfect, innovative and sustainable solutions for current challenges​. This allows entrepreneurs to find solutions for some of the challenges that can be turned into business ideas and projects that can serve Qatar. The challenges include:

1. Marketing challenges for Qatari products compared to the other competing products in the market.
2. Exporting challenges for Qatari products.
3. Preventive maintenance challenges for all machines used for productions.
4. Developing customer service system for the ministries.
5. Use of drones for maintenance and inspections to simplify heavy machinery for access;
6. Data platform for linking all transport asset data and operational performance data to improve transport performance in Qatar.
7. Way-finding to and around stations with Mobility and Visual impairment.
8. Marketing of services at Rail stations: Providing real time information on facilities and services offered in the train stations.
9. Maintaining clean carriages with sustainable resources: For example, washing of the train carriages and recycling of washing water/liquids. Cleaning of the internal of the carriages by using swarm of robot.
10. Entertainment and information system inside the train and in the station
11. Encourage people using Metro and Tram by having an eco-friendly and practical solution to transport people from their homes or point of interest to stations and vice versa that can be useful especially during hot season.
12. Reduce groundwater consumption in farming
13. Increase vegetable production especially during the summer months where high temperatures and high levels of humidity are prevalent.
14. Reduce the loss of agricultural products (plant, fish, poultry, livestock) along the marketing channel/postharvest, especially during the summer months where high temperatures and high levels of humidity are prevalent.
15. Possibilities of exploiting agricultural waste (plant and animal) economically.

To know who won this year's Al Fikra competition in the different categories, please click HERE!

    What are the prizes?

    QDB provides the following prizes for the first three winning teams:

    Al Fikra Qatar Development Bank
    Image credit: QDB

    What do you think about this initiative that helps Qatari led start-ups and entrepreneurs to develop business ideas? Do let us know in the comments section below and don't forget to like and share this article - you know it keeps us going!

    Cover image credit: QDB Bank