Posted on April 13, 2016

Under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the State of Qatar, His Excellency Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, Minister of Economy and Commerce, inaugurated the 12th Annual Meeting of International Network for SMEs (INSME 2016) which is being held for the first time in Doha, in cooperation with Qatar Development Bank.

The event takes place April 12 -14, 2016 and is free to all GCC citizens and residents at Sheraton Doha Hotel. The theme for this year’s INSME is "Enabling Smart SMEs as Key to Success." It represents a perfect platform to increase knowledge sharing among Innovation Leaders, discuss findings from others’ experiences and identify the right talents, partners, clients, sponsors and investors for future business activities and favorable public Governance.

Keynote speakers for the opening ceremony began with H.E Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, Minister of Economy and Commerce, who talked about the economic challenges and changes facing the world that increases the importance of the development and empowerment of SMEs to achieve sustainable economic development. Mr. Abdul Aziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa, CEO of Qatar Development Bank, then highlighted the efforts made by QDB in order to support and develop SMEs. He also took the opportunity to thank their partners for their ongoing support. Finally, Mr. Andrea Di Anselmo, Vice-President & Founding Member of META Group, and Mr. Stefan Kapferar, Deputy Secretary General of OECD concluded the speeches for the ceremony.

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During his opening speech, HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, Minister of Economy and Commerce, stressed on the importance of this annual meeting as it focuses on empowering the SMEs sector that will lead to diversifying the Qatari economy following the wise vision of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani Emir of Qatar. HE also pointed that the Ministry has launched many initiatives to help SMEs, including comprehensive electronic services packages, the completion of several that allow them to do the process via the website or the new mobile application. In conclusion, HE stressed on the importance of such events to provide huge opportunities to SMEs and entrepreneurs to gain the best international experiences and practices in this sector.

Following this, three sessions took place with leading industry figures including, "Ecosystems to Support SME Innovation and Smart Growth" with Ms. Haya Al Ghanim, Innovation Director of Qatar Science and Technology Park, participating in the discussion panel. Mr. Mohammed Mubarak Al Khater, Executive Director of Investment QDB,  added value on the panel discussing "Driving Financial Inclusion for Start-ups and SMEs – Unlocking Investment and Access to Smart Capital", and lastly "Putting People First – Smart SMEs matching Trends and Talents in the "Fast-Forward-Society"" where Dr. Abdulaziz Al Horr, CEO of Qatar Finance and Business Academy took part. The day concluded with a wrap up session and conclusions held by Mr. Hamad Al-Kubaisi, Executive Director of Advisory Services at QDB and INSME Italy New President and Secretary General, Sergio Arzeni and Christin Pfeiffer, respectively.

Mr. Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Al Khalifa, CEO of QDB, said: "We are delighted to host the 12th Annual Meeting of International Network for SMEs (INSME 2016) for the first time in Qatar, and I would like to thank H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Interior Minister for his patronage. I would also like to thank H.E. Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, Minister of Economy and Commerce for his ongoing and valuable support. Hosting such an influential global industry event shows the prestigious reputation Qatar has built as a thriving business and investment destination, and its recognised efforts to SMEs and private sector growth. We are always happy to host such events that enable us to share and exchange knowledge with international institutions and organizations, allowing us to explore new innovations and help identify further ways to diversify Qatar’s economy to achieve Qatar National Vision 2030."

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INSME is host to 19 respected speakers representing several local, regional and global institutions, such as Qatar Development Bank, Qatar Science and Technology Park, Qatar Finance and Business Academy, Qatar Business Incubation Center, Confindustria, INTRASOFT International Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Mohammed Bin Rashid Est. for SME Development, and Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, as well as several global institutions concerned with the development and support of SMEs.

In this context, Mr. AbdulAziz Al-Khalifa continued; "During the event, Qatar Development Bank will share its experience in supporting SMEs and the success we have achieved in this area through innovative financing and advisory programs, along with marketing and logistical support. For example ‘Jahiz’ that provides fully equipped facilities and tailored special services for Qatari entrepreneurs to encourage manufacturing. Following this, we can then help build and sell their products globally through our ‘Tasdeer’ export program."

INSME is a legally recognised not-for-profit Association open to international membership based in Italy. It was established 12 years ago and comprises of 77 members across four continents. Its mission is to stimulate transnational cooperation and public and private partnership in the field of innovation and technology transfer to SMEs. Ms. Christin Pfeiffer, Secretary General International Network for Small and Medium Enterprises, said: "We are happy to partner with Qatar Development Bank to hold INSME in Qatar for the first time, and I've seen the great interest of the Qatari government and QDB to support the meeting, and of course the wonderful efforts exerted by Qatar Development Bank to support SMEs. The attention paid by the government to support this sector puts Qatar in the forefront of countries in this field."

INSME held a series of discussion sessions in support and empowerment of SMEs on Tuesday April 11th. QDB will also hold today (Thursday 14th) a training workshop entitled "Design Thinking for Innovation in Practice – an Effective Toolkit to Manage Competitiveness."