Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2019

There is always an evident need to support the entrepreneurial activities especially those initiated by the young and upcoming entrepreneurs. Training and constant Guidance is also an imperative element. In order to ensure support and guidance the Global Entrepreneurship network use to gather thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other startup champions from more than 170 countries to identify new ways of helping founders start and scale new ventures around the world. In cooperation with Tamkeen,

The 11th GEC under the supervision of The Global Entrepreneurship Network concluded in Bahrain. The four days congress from 15th April to 18th April was opened in presence of His Excellency Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister of Bahrain. More than 110 sessions along with more than 240 local, regional and global speakers were hosted during the event. The event was attended by over 3000 visitors from over 170 countries; the event was hosted for the first time in the Kingdom and has brought together thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and economic policymakers from around the world.

The event was Held at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre which was initiated with an opening speech made by His Excellency Zayed Rashid Al Zayani, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism who welcomed delegates with an opening speech before the first day’s activities and sessions commenced. In his opening speech, His Excellency said that we must convert the mindset of people in Bahrain from job seekers to job makers. It is not a coincidence that this global event is being held in Bahrain at such a pivotal time in our history, it is a testament to our commitment to serve our private sector and shift away from being an oil-based economy to being more diversified and knowledge-based.

The first day sessions began with the “Plenary Opening Session” moderated by Global Entrepreneurship Network President and Founder, Jonathan Ortmans. The plenary panel discussion revolved around the progress and efforts focused on diversifying Bahrain’s robust economy and private sector. Members of the panel included His Excellency Zayed Rashid Al Zayani, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Tamkeen Chairman, His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed Bin Essa Al Khalifa, His Excellency Khalid Rumaihi, Chief Executive of Bahrain Economic Development Board, and local entrepreneurs Hala Ahmed Sulaiman, Founder and Managing Director of Beyond Borders Consultancy and Founder and CEO of Maya La Chocolaterie and The Living Concepts.

The panelists discussed various initiatives, country strategies and policy changes being made to promote and benefit SMEs and 27


start-ups in Bahrain, as well as the various obstacles entrepreneurs have faced amidst today’s economic landscape. Initiatives and policy changes are being put in place to not only position Bahrain as a business-friendly ecosystem but also to empower Bahraini partnerships abroad. Such examples include implementing first Regulatory Sandbox initiative in the region, Export Bahrain and new bankruptcy laws.

Tamkeen Chairman, His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed Bin Essa Al Khalifa, said, “Tamkeen is proud to bring this event for the first time in Bahrain with the Global Entrepreneurship Network, connecting thousands of experienced entrepreneurs, researchers and policymakers from around the world to the Kingdom’s ever-growing entrepreneurial start-up culture. At Tamkeen, we are committed to providing guidance and financing to local start-ups, as well as international ones.

Today’s sessions established a quality benchmark which will be continually met over the course of four days via the GEC’s diverse and insightful selection of workshops, panels and sessions. We are confident that our attendees will benefit from this auspicious event to propel their skills and contribute to the Kingdom’s economic vision.

This year’s edition of the GEC addressed important economic themes including the global entrepreneurial revolution, high-performance ecosystems and inclusive economies. GEC 2019’s sessions, workshops and panels further explored new ways to nurture start-up companies in order to expand their reach to global standards and promote sustainability as they support the growth of the Kingdom’s entrepreneurial sector. GEC 2018 provided a number of platforms to voice the opportunities and challenges of refugee entrepreneurship. As Building Markets, we presented our work with Syrian entrepreneurs, including a pioneering report on Syrian SMEs in Turkey, on two occasions: a workshop on Entrepreneurship in Post-Conflict Economies, along with colleagues from SPARK and SIAD as well as a promising young Syrian entrepreneur, and the Empretec Global Summit: Entrepreneurship and Migration, sharing the stage with colleagues from UNHCR, Habitat, and TUBITAK to discuss our experiences supporting Syrian entrepreneurs in Turkey.

Among the highlights of the third day included a session on “Building a Digital Nation” presented by former Estonian President His Excellency Toomas Ilves, who remarked the progress made by Estonia in smart digital government services, especially in implementing Block Chain technology. In the “Women Entrepreneurs: Local Advancement, Global Trends session several related issues were discussed. One of the third day’s sessions included Tamkeen’s “Enabling a Digital Economy: Cloud Impact on Startups” which shed light on supporting organisations as they increase the quality and effectiveness of their services, including improvement of security utilising the latest digital solutions.

Export Bahrain in partnership with the International Trade Centre, recently announced the launch of its new interactive online platform “Trade Map” at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress 2019. This platform is reachable via Export Bahrain’s website and will provide Bahraini exporters with trade and market intelligence of over 220 countries and territories and 5,300 products in a relevant and efficient manner. The purpose of this is to allow Bahraini exporters to identify and capture international trade opportunities based on indicators on export performance, international demand, alternative markets and the role of competitors from both a product and country perspective.

Amna Malik, President Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) who is also the brain behind the initiative of startup Pakistan was present at the launch of the platform. At the occasion she met President of GEN, Jonathan Ortmans as well as dignitaries from Malaysia. Several issues of mutual interest were discussed including the initiatives under the umbrella of startup Pakistan. There are plenty of initiatives under the umbrella of startup Pakistan to promote youth entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment, from providing training to young people who want to start their own business, to venture capital funds to support investment in these businesses.

The current platform will further provide an opportunity to interact with the entrepreneurs around the globe. Startup Pakistan is also part of a big network of international investors and venture capitalists which is always on a hunt for high potential startups especially in emerging markets. These investors and venture capitalists have already invested millions of dollars in Pakistan and other Asian markets and given startups and scale ups the much needed financial strength so they can focus more on the technical, user experience and customer satisfaction sides of their products.

Export Bahrain signed an exclusive partnership with Gulf Air’s Falcon Cargo to provide SMEs in the Kingdom of Bahrain, exporting their goods to the tune of 100 kilograms or above, with special discount of up to 40% on their cargo exports. We must challenge and inspire young people with the idea that they can make it happen for themselves, by nurturing a new culture of enterprise education, embedding the key ingredients of entrepreneurship in the curriculum. In addition, we need to address how we invest in young talent, and for this purpose startup Pakistan is providing funds.

Writer is the Assistant Editor ‘Mélange int’l Magazine’, ‘The Asian Telegraph’ & Project Coordinator (COPAIR); SAIMA ZAMAN

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About Saima Zaman 40 Articles
Writer is the Assistant Editor ‘Mélange int’l Magazine’, ‘The Asian Telegraph’ & Project Coordinator (COPAIR); a degree holder in communication & media sciences.