Posted on July 17, 2017

To be held under the patronage of the Emir of the State of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar Development Bank (QDB) announced the launch of the first Qatar Entrepreneurship Award 2017 for small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners at a press conference held at the Four Seasons Hotel.

The launch of the award was attended by Chief Executive Officer (CEO), QDB, Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al-Khalifa along with high-ranking officials of the development organization as well as preeminent members of the local business and media community.

During the event, the application process for the award was opened to eligible organizations in Qatar. The first Qatar Entrepreneurship Award comprises five categories: Best Microenterprise Award, the Best Scale-up Business Award, the Best Start-up Business Award, the Best Exporter Award and the Best Local Market Self-sufficiency Award.

The registration period for eligible businesses to apply for the awards opens today, 17 July. Following the receipt of applications, a thorough verification and review will be conducted. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by the QDB team to allow for a further winnowing of suitable candidates. A specially-comprised panel of judges will then conduct their final review and select the winners, who will be announced during a grand ceremony, scheduled to held on 15 November 2017.

Notably, the Qatar Entrepreneurship Award will be held during the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), thus, contributing holistically to fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation locally. Held each year, GEW-Qatar is a local chapter of the international expo series designed to connect start-up owners, investors, researchers and policymakers in a weeklong exhibition, comprising networking opportunities, training workshops and other development activities.

Commenting on the launch of the award, CEO, QDB, Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al-Khalifa said: "Over the years, we, at QDB, have been grateful for His Highness the Emir’s patronage of the SME community as well as the broader local private sector—through his actions, his directions and his speeches, he has long stressed the importance of this sector and motivated SMEs to increasingly occupy centerpiece of the economy for a self-sustaining future.

"Today, to that end, QDB launches the first edition of the Qatar Entrepreneurship Award to propel entrepreneurs to compete and offer their best innovations, projects and initiatives to enrich the business community with new and innovative projects that serve the Qatari community."

Further elaborating on the role of the development organization, Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al-Khalifa stressed that QDB provides SMEs with a myriad of financial and non-financial assistance, including advisory support and international matchmaking support, to consolidate their footprint in the local market and help them expand to foreign markets in the interest of a blooming, self-reliant local economy.

Companies applying for the Qatar Entrepreneurship Award will have to demonstrate their ability to meet set criteria to qualify for participation. The common requirements include the ownership of the company being registered under a Qatari citizen; the holding of a commercial registration license (except for Microenterprise Award); the ability to demonstrate an organizational disposition for innovation; the understanding for the social, economic and environmental impacts of one’s business; and a long-term vision for strategic growth.

Additionally, contingent upon on the specific award for which an application is lodged, participating businesses must be in operation for varying minimum number of years and possess clear achievements to qualify. For instance, the Best Microenterprise Award mandates eligible companies be in operation for more than a year and have the capability to demonstrate a clear vision for growth and market expansion; the Best Start-up Business Award necessitates a market presence of more than 2 years and a capability to demonstrate unique organizational traits of innovation; the Best Scale-up Business Award demands the best emerging company have more than 5 years of operation and a clear growth plan to build on its successes; the Best Exporter Award requires companies to have a successful track record in regional and international trade over a set number of years; and the Local Market Self-sufficiency Award stipulates that companies exhibit that their products actually cover the critical needs of the local market.

The launch of the Entrepreneurship Award comes as the latest in a series of initiatives that QDB has undertaken to encourage local SMEs and entrepreneurs to develop their businesses and play a prominent role in the national economy.