Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) participated in the workshop, entitled "Empowering SMEs," which was hosted by the Doha Bank and held in Doha on September 8th at the Doha Bank Auditorium. The workshop was attended by CEOs/ Top Management officials from Qatar Stock Exchange, Doha Bank, Qatar Development Bank, Enterprise Qatar, QBIC and UK Trade Investment center, who met together to discuss and highlight opportunities for SMEs to grow and flourish.
In a presentation, Mr Rashid bin Ali Al-Mansoori, CEO of Qatar Stock Exchange, highlighted the support of QSE to the SME's sector and stated “Like all our colleagues here tonight, Qatar Stock Exchange recognizes the importance of the SME sector which globally provides the foundation for successful economies, contributing employment opportunities, wealth creation and increased output. With the addition of the QE Venture Market to our listing opportunities, we are providing young and entrepreneurial companies a customized route to market to ensure they have access to the necessary funds to contribute to Qatar’s economy. The characteristics of the market reflect the objectives of allowing SMEs to list and raise capital more easily and cheaply and with less stringent requirements than would be the case on the Main Market.”
Mr. Al-Mansoori compared between various finance options for SMEs and stated that listing on stock exchange is one of the best solutions to make these companies available for investments. A dedicated market for SMEs with regulation customized to their needs has been the most successful ‘model’; this is the basis on which we have designed the QE Venture Market, He added.
In the presentation, Mr Al-Mansoori explained the ecosystem for empowering SMEs listing on QSE and explained that this ecosystem is particularly important for the success and future growth of SME's because it is critical to get the community working together, including company founders, investment bankers, lawyers, accountants, lawyers, traders, analysts and investor relations professionals. In this regard, Mr Al-Mansoori highlighted the efforts exerted by Enterprise Qatar in assisting SMEs with some of the fees associated with listing.
The event was kicked off with an introduction speech by Dr. R. Seetharaman, Group C.E.O Doha Bank outlining the importance of the SME space in achieving the goals laid down in the Qatar National Vision 2030 document. He reiterated the critical role being played by SMEs in bringing in innovation, advancement and sustainable development worldwide. Mr. Omran Bin Hamad Al Kuwari, the CEO of Enterprise Qatar (EQ), delivered a presentation on Enterprise Qatar’s initiatives to empowering the SMEs -The Rating and Accreditation Programme. He explained that the SMEs applying for the program will undergo a comprehensive assessment on all aspects of the business as part of the rating and accreditation process.
Mr. Hamad Khamis Al Kubaisi, QDB Executive Director of Strategy and Business Development of Qatar Development Bank (QDB), covered during his speech the various aspects of the ‘Al-Dhameen’ credit guarantee program of QDB which was launched to help SMEs, new and existing, to access the Qatari credit market with lack of collateral for establishment or growth in their businesses. Mr. Saleh Al Khulaifi, member of QBIC Board of Directors, spoke on a new initiative by the QBIC to support start up or existing projects, facing some challenges and obstacles, QBIC would assist them by actually offering solutions that contribute to increasing the chances of success for such business ventures.
Mr. Gareth O’Brien, Director of Trade & Investment at the British Embassy Doha, spoke about how foreign companies typically look at partnerships with local entities when entering the Qatari market and some common "friction points” which have been experienced and suggested various approaches when engaging foreign partners. Mr. Rashid bin Ali Al Mansoori, CEO of Qatar Stock Exchange, also covered in his speech the various aspects related to QSE’s Venture Market dedicated for SMEs and stated that QEVM is specifically designed to fit within the country’s overall desire to support SMEs encapsulated in the many government-led initiatives in the area and as part of the ‘Vision 2030’ project.
Al-Mansoori said: “we hope to be working hard with all of you to ensure a pipeline of suitably qualified companies is able to come to market. It is expected that these companies will be SMEs from Qatar, the GCC and the MENA region. He added that the establishment of the Venture Market in Qatar Exchange is an expression of the government's commitment to develop and strengthen Qatar’s macro economy and an implementation of the decisions of the Supreme Council of Economic Affairs and Investment.
Mr. Al-Mansoori gave a detailed explanation about the benefits that SMEs can get when get listed on QSE. He clarified that offering liquidity and valuation is a primary benefit for listing on QSE, especially in view of the fact that private and family businesses are reaching a stage where the first or second generation owners are no longer so active in the business. Thus, listing is a solution for the succession and business continuity considerations.
For small companies the rationale for listing is often, but not always, allied to the need for capital. These include diversifying sources of funding through increasing company’s equity base; Offering liquidity to financial, family or minority shareholders; Visibility, status and valuation; and meeting Strategic corporate objectives, Mr. Al-Mansoori explained.
Mr Al-Mansoori concluded by saying that "providing capital for SMEs is a key issue. We are serious about wanting to increase the financial flexibility available to SMEs in Qatar today and therefore offering a solution to the relative lack of funding that affects this sector. We all depend on SMEs for future growth. At Qatar Stock Exchange we are committed to providing such a platform and necessary support to both differentiate early stage listed companies."