Finally someone said something.
Encouragement to the spirit of entrepreneurship and the subsequent setting up of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is sorely lacking not only in Qatar, but the rest of the region. Dr Hashim S Hussein, head of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization - Investment and Technology Promotion Office (UNIDO-ITPO), said at the ictQATAR-organised 'Technology and SMEs in Qatar: Opportunities and Challenges' seminar yesterday, several factors are proving to be a setback for efforts to help entrepreneurship.
"There are limited support initiatives targeting entrepreneurs, there is a lack of help and support for launching start-up companies and there is a lack of growth programmes that provide counselling and support for quality control, marketing and upgrading of technology," he said. Hussein came down particularly hard on financial institutions (FIs) and banks. "There is no really strong drive to foster start-up enterprises. FIs in the GCC are really not doing their jobs for the SMEs at all. They are obsolete and not agressive," he said.
Hussein suggested FIs should help in creation of entrepreneurs, going on to say it should not be looked at as dispensing charity or as offering direct subsidies. Instead, FIs should look at their actions as offering support, he added.
A dearth of counseling institutes constitute a problem. Should a Qatari entrepreneur want to do business with a counterpart in Bahrain, the question needs to be asked to which organisation should he turn for advice and contacts. "In Qatar and the region, there has been a lack of facilities for start-ups. The only industrial areas existing here have been here for 30 or 40 years. We need to develop business incubators in every neighbourhood, which can provide quality management, technology support and marketing," said Hussein.
People in the GCC should stop considering themselves as being a part of a consumer society and the private sector must develop technology parks, from where entrepreneurs can operate. "People who own dealerships like for Mercedes-Benz and Canada Dry are promoting foreign products. At one time, we (the Arabs) used to master and facilitate trade. We have to bring that back again," he said.
However, it takes hard work to get an SME up and running. "We have to develop the set-up and capacities," said the UNIDO official.
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