The Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Development Company ‘Enterprise Qatar’ (EQ) awarded in a ceremony a total of QR6 million in prize money to six teams at the Al Fikra Business Plan Competition Awards Ceremony.
The ceremony was held under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassim Al-Thani, the Minister of Economy and Commerce and Chairman of EQ, at Doha’s Sharq Village & Spa. It marked the end of this year’s Al Fikra Business Plan Competition which was held over four months and delivered in partnership with Qatar Business Incubation Centre (QBIC), Qatar Development Bank (QDB), ExxonMobil, Sasol, Qatar University and Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar.
The Al Fikra initiative reinforces EQ’s ethos of encouraging the establishment of SMEs to foster a culture of entrepreneurship in Qatar. During the competition applicants underwent business plan development training and were coached in financial statement analysis. Following which their finalised business plans were submitted and subsequently evaluated by a panel of experts.
Commenting on the invaluable initiative, His Excellency Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassim Al-Thani, the Minister of Economy and Commerce and Chairman of EQ, said, “The aim of the Al Fikra Business Plan Competition is not merely to collect ideas but instead to ignite the spirit of entrepreneurship and inspire our youth to choose a unique career path that reflects their creativity. Through this competition, we want our future leaders to acquire the skills needed to showcase their innovative ideas and add value to our society. The hope is that we can depend on our new generation to diversify our national economy.
His Excellency continued, “With this, I address all of our Qatari male and females to say, even though you may not have thorough knowledge or access to proper finances to bring your ideas to life, Enterprise Qatar is here to open the doors and help you turn your dreams into a reality. Our hope lies in you, our new generation of young entrepreneurs and we are committed to providing you with a vast network of resources and support including, educational, training programmes and consultancy services. ”
Commenting on the increasing popularity of the competition Ali Al Khulaifi, EQ’s Acting CEO, said: “The Al Fikra competition 2014 saw wide participation from people seeking to creatively express themselves while serving their society. This year, we received a total of 178 business proposals.”
The winners in the professional category included ‘Q Talent’ by Maryam Al Subaiey and Maryam Al Emadi (ICT sector) in first place; ‘Al Galayel Simulator Game’ by Mohammed Doumir and Mohammed Jassim Ahmed Al Kuwari (ICT sector) in second place; and ‘LeFreej Café’ by Abdulaziz Al Sulaiti, Eman Al Sulaiti and Issam Alameh (Food and Beverage sector) in third place.
The winners of the student category included ‘F8′ by Ali Abbas, Saad Ahmed, Sabih Bin Wasi and Noorul Huda Admaney (ICT sector) in first place; ‘Smart Cart’ by Amna Ahmed Mabrouk, Maya Hamed, Noora Al Muhannadi and Asil Al Bardawil (ICT sector) in second place; and ‘LifeSpan+’ by Daniel Cheweiky and Sultan Al Jaber (ICT sector) in third.
In addition to cash prizes, the six winning teams were awarded up to two years of business incubation services and professional development under the guidance of QBIC. The prizes also include managerial and technical advisory services to help the teams establish their business from within EQ.
Commenting on the incubation services to be made available to the winners Amal Al-Mannai, Vice Chairman of QBIC, said: “QBIC is proud to be the incubation partner, and part of the judging committee, for the Al Fikra Business Plan Competition. We look forward to steering these winners through our lean start-up methodology via the action oriented teaching programme that will be presented to the entrepreneurs during the incubation period.”
Hamad Al Kubaisi, Executive Director of Strategy and Business Development for QDB, said: “QDB is proud to provide financial support to the winners of this year’s Al Fikra Business Plan Competition. We remain committed to encouraging all areas of business development in order to assist the growth of Qatar’s SME community. We congratulate the winners of this year’s competition and look forward to facilitating the necessary funds needed to help them turn their innovative business ideas into reality.”
Abdullatif Al-Naemi, National Development Manager of ExxonMobil in Qatar, said: “ExxonMobil Qatar is proud to support EQ and the Al Fikra Business Plan Competition through platinum sponsorship as we realise that it is initiatives such as this one that will leave a lasting, positive impact on Qatar’s economy. Both EQ and ExxonMobil Qatar are fully aware of the importance of promoting SMEs in Qatar as the positive long-term impact of private enterprise means a lot for an economy. A thriving enterprise sector serves as a building block for the larger value chain of companies, industries and sectors, to essentially contribute to sustainable and long-term growth of the local community.”
Jack Saba, Corporate Affairs Manager of SASOL, added: “The Al Fikra Business Plan Competition brings out the best in Qatar’s talented and energetic youth. Their innovative entrepreneurial spirit is what inspired Sasol to support the competition for a second year. We congratulate the winners and wish them every success in seeing their ideas come alive. As an active member of the community, Sasol is pleased to work with EQ, and others, to contribute to the development of Qatar’s future economy.”
Finally, Professor George White from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar said: “Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar is pleased to support the Al Fikra Qatari Business Plan Competition as we have a long tradition of sponsoring such competitions. In Qatar, we endeavour to encourage entrepreneurship through our classes and by supporting and promoting Al Fikra. We firmly believe this competition will make a significant contribution to realising the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030.”
With winners showing tremendous promise in growing fully-fledged and viable businesses, EQ’s Al Fikra Business Plan Competition has proven once again that it is a key contributor to developing local business talent and inspiring young Qatari entrepreneurs to flourish into strong business leaders.