Posted on December 06, 2017

With the aim of supporting Qatari entrepreneurs and nurturing their creative and innovate ideas toward achieving a diversified economic development in the State, Qatar Development Bank (QDB) has launched the sixth edition of its National Business Competition “Al Fikra” at a press conference held yesterday at its headquarters, in the presence of Ooredoo and Sasol the competition’s official partners, and Carnegie Mellon University-Qatar (CMU-Q) representatives, and a number of QDB officials.

Al Fikra is an educational initiative to nurture and develop entrepreneurs in Qatar through workshops aimed at developing their entrepreneurial business ideas and transforming them into successful projects. The competition also aims to encourage them to establish new companies and promote a culture of entrepreneurship in Qatar, while marking a major milestone in their entrepreneurial career as it empowers them to form partnerships and establish excellent relationships with investment institutions, banks and strategic partners. Moreover, Al Fikra helps Qatari entrepreneurs hone their skills, develop their capacities and showcase their innovative work, as well as provides them with the necessary support, towards contributing to economic diversification and sustainable development in an innovative way.

The competition also stimulates entrepreneurs’ competitive spirit in coming up with effective solutions to overcome obstacles in the way of their ambitions and entrepreneurial projects. It also comes within the framework of QDB’s strategy to provide all forms of support to the SME sector, leading to economic prosperity. Al Fikra National Business Competition is sponsored by Ooredoo as the official communication sponsor, and Sasol as golden sponsors, in addition to the participation of CMU-Q as the competition’s academic partner.

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Commenting on the occasion, Mr. Hamad Al-Kubaisi, Executive Director of Strategy & Business Development of Qatar Development Bank, said: “The launch of the sixth edition of Al Fikra Competition comes in the context of our strong commitment to support and develop the national economy and contribute to the achievement of the Qatar National Vision 2030, by empowering entrepreneurs and SME owners, developing their capacity, and providing them with the support they need to establish a foothold in the Qatari market and develop their businesses. The competition paves the way for Qatari entrepreneurs – whether students, professionals or businessmen – to present their ideas and integrated business plans for innovative projects that serve the diversity of the national economy and opens up new business horizons. In its current edition, Al Fikra is evidently the culmination of success of its previous editions, as it has been able to achieve its goals and objectives to promote new projects and creative ideas.”

Talking about the sponsorship, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad bin Nasser Al Thani, Chief New Business Officer, at Ooredoo Qatar, said: “Ooredoo is proud to be supporting such as importing programme for Qatar. SMEs and start-ups make up a huge part of Qatar’s businesses, and we have a vision to help digitise and enable these businesses to thrive in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030.” From his side, Thabiet Booley, Senior Vice President Energy at Sasol said:  “Sasol is pleased to be a main supporter of Al Fikra National Business Competition since 2013. At Sasol, we believe that all successful projects around us start as ideas. Entrepreneurship is an important pillar to diversify and shape a country’s economy, which was stressed by Qatar National Vision 2030. During the past five years, we have witnessed major changes and positive results from the Al Fikra competition. We believe that the future will be brighter for both Al Fikra and our Nation. “

From his part, Professor George M. White, Distinguished Career Professor of Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, said: “CMU-Q is honored to join Qatar Development Bank for the annual national business plan competition, Al Fikra. Carnegie Mellon has a long history in promoting entrepreneurship, both at the main campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, and here in Doha. We believe entrepreneurship is a vital tool for Qatar to achieve its 2030 vision of becoming a knowledge-based economy. Carnegie Mellon Qatar offers a wide range of entrepreneurship courses to its students, as well as business plan competitions for university students in Qatar, including the annual Quick Startup weekend. CMU-Q also offers entrepreneurial seminars and outreach programs to high school students. A number of CMU-Q graduates have become entrepreneurs themselves, and they are an essential resource for all of our entrepreneurial outreach efforts.”

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He added: “We expect to work closely with other universities and government agencies to accomplish this goal, including the Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC), Bedaya Center, Qatar University, College of the North Atlantic - Qatar (CNA-Q), Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Sheikh Faisal Center for Entrepreneurship, ExxonMobil, Shell Qatar, and, of course Qatar Development Bank. CMU-Q is proud to be an active member of the Qatar community of entrepreneurship promoters. We believe Al Fikra will play an important role in increasing the awareness of young entrepreneurs of their opportunities here in Qatar.”

Al Fikra consists of three stages: the first is to evaluate the ideas submitted, the second relates to providing workshops and training courses for the participant in order to present a clear and integrated business plans, and the final stage witnesses the presentation of project ideas work that were qualified for the finals to the jury, whose members represent the Qatari business community, QDB, and official partners. The jury’s role revolves around select award-winning projects. The competition awards are not limited to providing financial support, as they also offer consultative services, financing programs, Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC) services, and “Al Dhameen” program, in addition to gaining experience through different stages of the competition. Qatar Development Bank will provide support to entrepreneurs throughout the competition, from inventing the idea to bringing their products to international acclaim.