Posted on February 24, 2011

Enterprise Qatar (EQ), a QR2-billion initiative for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in association with Carnegie Mellon University and a Qatar-based consortium of higher education institutions and business development agencies, has launched the Al Fikra National Business Plan competition.

It will be the largest business plan competition hosted in Qatar to date. Finalists will be asked to present their plans in May, with the winners announced at a gala event at Carnegie Mellon.

Al Fikra directly supports the objectives of EQ, for which, organizing a business plan competition serves as a mechanism to attract entrepreneurs and beneficiaries of the services it offers.

“EQ empowers young and dedicated entrepreneurs by removing obstacles and barriers for doing business and creating an environment where entrepreneurs can begin and thrive,” Noora Al Mannai, deputy project director of EQ said.

Organizers hope the program will help encourage the establishment of new companies and foster an entrepreneurial culture in Qatar, pushing the new generation towards creating business ideas, developing and planning propositions, she said.

The consortium includes leading universities such as Carnegie Mellon, College of the North Atlantic-Qatar, Qatar University, Stenden University and Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar.

Other supporters include the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR), the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) and Qatar Development Bank (QDB).

“We have many idealistic young people who want to make the world a better place; and there is no better way to create social change than to start a business,” said George White, entrepreneurship professor at Carnegie Mellon.

QBA’s support for the competition came from its “strong faith” in the necessity of empowering the youth to become active constituents of today’s business society, supporting economic and innovative projects that we believe are the basis for developing a knowledge-based economy, said its chairman Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani.

“Supporting this event is an integral step in our endeavor to prepare the Qatar workforce for a more diversified, future economy,” said Faye McKay, dean of the School of Business of CNA-Q.

Stressing that business planning precedes bankable business cases which, hopefully, many of those submitted in this competition will become, QDB CEO Mansoor E Al Mahmoud said: “We would certainly like to see them take advantage of the Al-Dhameen programme which targets SMEs and budding entrepreneurs.”

“To capture the opportunity and benefits of digital content and encourage innovation, entrepreneurship and stimulate supply, ictQATAR is establishing an Incubation Centre to focus on developing innovative digital services and applications,” said Duha Al Buhendi, Incubation Center section manager at ictQATAR.