Bahrain Gives Back
BY ANAAM IKRAM
“We want to hear more from you. We want to be your true partners in growth. That is our aim”. That is the message from Tamkeen, Bahrain’s public agency that empowers both individuals and businesses to reach their potential.
Over the last few years, Bahrain has seen the rise of the entrepreneurial culture and Tamkeen’s support and solution providing programs have helped fuel this growth. Perle Magazine met with Senior Manager of Tamkeen Operations, Qusay Ali Al Arayedh, to get a clearer understanding of the services Tamkeen has to offer.
A result of the Labour Market Reform initiative set by the government in 2006, Tamkeen emerged to assist businesses and individuals in Bahrain with growth and development. As entrepreneurship rises in Bahrain, Tamkeen has helped establish many businesses, 20% of which were start-ups. This, Al Arayedh says, has encouraged people to look at Tamkeen as an entity that will offset their risk of failure.
The availability of various programs in Tamkeen allows for it to be the ideal helping-hand for both, individuals and businesses. For individuals, Al Arayedh says, Tamkeen has specific programs which require obtaining certain specifications and working with their employers to help reach their potential. For companies that turn to Tamkeen for help, Al Arayedh explains, the goal is to create a bridge between where they are today and where they want to be and then work towards closing the gap. Tamkeen then provides these companies with support through means of financial and non-financial aid.
For businesses, the two main programs are Enterprise Support Program and the Finance Scheme. The Enterprise Support Scheme is done internally, where Tamkeen takes care of everything from beginning to end. As they are receiving applications in double digits on a daily basis, Al Arayedh says, there is a filtering process that takes place after which they engage with their clients. Through these meetings, his team gets a better understanding of what the client is in need of and they strategise from there.
Tamkeen also engages in a monitoring stage where they assess the growth of the company over a year from the first point of interaction. For the Finance Scheme, banks are provided with incentives by Tamkeen to consider working with SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) that may otherwise not seem bankable. This allows for the SMEs to seem more attractive for the banks to deal with them. Always allowing room for improvement, Tamkeen also does Impact Assessments regularly which look at the programs as a whole and how effective they have been.
“There are so many variables that are measured in order for us to understand what kind of grant amount will be allocated” Al Arayedh says. Applicants must fill out a form that requires a detailed account of their current status, as well as their financials and their future potential. Once the application is received, all the information is validated before proceeding further. Applications are also categorised based on the size of company, industry and whether or not the company is financially managed through audits. Following that, there is a filtration process that takes place during “The Grand Calculation Model”, where Tamkeen meets with the potential clients and decides on the allocated amount for the grant.
“The most important thing in my opinion is first of all to believe that the risk for growth is diminished when it comes to Bahrain because there is Tamkeen” Al Arayedh says. Through the help of Tamkeen many businesses have gone from the strength to strength over the years. “We see a company that used to be a workshop and now they are a huge manufacturing firm that exports to different countries. We have plenty of examples of restaurants that now are opening up additional branches in other areas of Bahrain and even in other GCC countries. So we have plenty of success stories that make us happy every day,” he says.
Working in Tamkeen since 2010, Al Arayedh says his job entails looking over the entire application process. He says he ensures the applications are received, processes are carried out as per the terms and condition, and makes sure that at the end of the day the clients are happy with the services that are offered. Al Arayedh emphasised that it is important that their support be given to the right people.
Qusay Ali Al Arayedh says for now, Tamkeen is looking at internal restructuring in the hopes to try and streamline programs to make them much more efficient for the clients. “All of our programs have gone through different phases. It is so different today than when I first joined” he explains.
Tamkeen also has customer service centres around Bahrain as well as representative offices in different areas, the most important being in The Ministry of Labour. The non-profit program is also in partnership with Bahrain Development Bank.
A message that Qusay Al Arayedh would like to give to anyone looking to start up their business or reaching their full growth potential is, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there. So make sure that you know where you are going and believe me, we will try as much as we can to help get you there.”
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