- Final awards ceremony held under the patronage of the Minister of Economy and Commerce, His Excellency Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim al-Thani
- Value of awards this year amounts to more than QAR 500,000
- In the past, more than 200 ideas have been presented at the Al-Fikra nationwide contests – of which 14 business models have been supported through incubation time, integrated consultancy program coupons, and access to finance
Doha, Qatar, May 1, 2018: The five-months rigorous Al-Fikra National Business Competition came to a close on April 30, 2018. Held at the Grand Hayyat Hotel, under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Qatar Development Bank (QDB) recognised the efforts of winning team among the august presence of industry veterans at the glittering gala dinner. QDB announced the three winning entries that were developed during the course of the contest. Al Fikra National Business Competition was sponsored by Ooredoo as the official communication sponsor, and Sasol as golden sponsors, in addition to the participation of CMU-Q as the competition’s academic partner. This year, the event witnessed a record number of registrations, which was close to 390 applications as compared to 90 in the last edition. Among these entries, 188 of them were Qataris. The number itself speaks the growing importance of this platform among the community.
After submitting the business plan ideas, the jury which is comprised of members from academia, the business community, and QDB officials, finalized 36 applications who then presented the idea to the judges. Having heard their competitive pitches, final three entries were announced as the winners at the ceremony. The first winning entry was “Mashrou” by Mr. Shaha Alkhulaifi. According to the jury members, “Mashrou” is the first independent incubator for Doha’s creative economy and a home for the art & design community; a place for people to come together, collaborate, research, and make meaningful work in an inspiring setting. The space includes a co-working area with desks and offices/studios for short-to-medium term rental (includes access to a shared fab-lab and art facilities), a cafe with curated selection of healthy food & beverages from local entrepreneurs; exhibition & events space; and a design store/bookshop. The “Mashrou” team will run a regular public program of cultural events (film screenings, workshops, and academic lectures) to nurture community dynamics and sustain our creative ecosystem.
Second finalist was “Tadweer” by Mr. Ahmed Yousef Fakhro. The project involves recycling organic waste and re-uses it to the ground so as to maintain the fertility of the land. It uses materials that enter the organic fertilizer industry through the remnants of farms and gardens (paper trees and herbs) & kitchen waste, thereby producing a rich fertilizer of microorganisms, fungi, phosphorous and other materials for good soil health. The third winning entry was “GarGor Finder” by Mr. Rashid Al Muhannadi. It is a GPS-enabled device that tracks and accurately locates the fish cages, together with an online application providing real-time data for customers.
The first place winner is Mr. Rashid Al Muhannadi, who presented “GarGor Finder” idea, and in the second place is Mr. Ahmed Yousef Fakhro, who presented the idea “Tadweer”, while the third place is Mr. Shaha Alkhulaifi for the “Mashrou” idea.
The value of the awards amounted to more than QAR 500,000, and prizes ranged from access to finance, incubation time and advisory services to help the successful entrepreneurs translate their business ideas into reality and commence operations on ground.
Acknowledging the efforts of participants during the awards ceremony, Abdul Aziz Bin Nasser Al Khalifa, Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Development Bank, said:
“In line with our efforts to stimulate entrepreneurial growth, we are honored and feel proud to have initiative this one-of-its-kind platform. Through this growing tribe, in the seventh edition, we have been able to shortlist some of the best entrepreneurial ideas to help them lead the growth path. Going ahead too, we will keep on supporting and stimulating the growth of small and medium-sized national enterprises, in particular the skills necessary to enhance economic growth, and to build bridges of joint cooperation with all stakeholders to support entrepreneurship in the country in order to integrate the roles and efforts to support Qatari youth. With such initiatives, we aim to drive the government’s Qatar National Vision 2030.”
“During this five-month extensive competition, our primary focus was on the quality and innovativeness of the submissions with respect to the commercial needs of the market—the finalists were selected by the jury on criteria such as the quality of the ideas submitted and the feasibility of their business plans. Through the support of QDB, the finalists are empowered to translate their business models into a reality. While this is just one phase of their journey, I would like to extend our support to all the participants who couldn’t make it to the end and wish them success in their future endeavors and we would sincerely like to congratulate the winners of the current edition,” he added.
Talking about the sponsorship, Yousuf Abdulla Al Kubaisi, COO, Ooredoo Qatar, said:
“Ooredoo is a vital supporter of SME and start-up businesses in Qatar and we support a number of incubators in the country. SMEs and start-ups make up a huge part of Qatar’s businesses, which is why we invest heavily in helping digitise these businesses and are proud to be sponsoring such an important programme for Qatar.”
From his side, Phinda Vilakazi, President of GTL Ventures at Sasol said:
“As a major investor in Qatar, and a proud partner with Qatar Petroleum in the Oryx GTL facility, we are here for the long-term and are working hand-in-hand with our partners and local community members to foster a strong and inclusive Qatar in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030. Sasol is a big believer and investor in entrepreneurship and community. We are proud to have been a supporter of the Al Fikra Business Competition since 2013. Entrepreneurship makes up a key pillar of our Corporate Social Responsibility platform, which include Definitely Able, Accessible Qatar, and Qatar e-Nature – programs that support accessibility for the disabled, and a greater appreciation for Qatar’s local environment. At Sasol, we have long-recognized the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises, and have made it an important part of our investment in the future. Together, we can create a dynamic, stable, and multifaceted economy that benefits us all.”
Appreciating efforts of participants, Professor George M. White, Distinguished Career Professor of Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, said:
“On behalf of Carnegie Mellon University, we would like to thank Qatar Development Bank for sponsoring the Al Fikra National Business Competition. I personally would like to thank Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al-Khalifa CEO of Qatar Development Bank for his enthusiastic support for entrepreneurship in Qatar. His personal presence and involvement in so many of the entrepreneurial organizations and events over the years has been an inspiration to us all. Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar is honored to be the formal academic partner to assist QDB for the annual national business plan competition. Carnegie Mellon believes entrepreneurship is a vital tool for national economies to increase employment and for Qatar to achieve its 2030 vision of becoming a knowledge-based economy. Carnegie Mellon Qatar itself offers a wide range of entrepreneurship courses to its students, as well as business plan competitions for entrepreneurs in Qatar, including our annual Quick Startup weekend. We also offer entrepreneurial seminars and outreach programs to high school students and the public. CMU collaborates with, and has been supported by, other universities and government agencies to, including the Qatar Business Incubation Center, the Bedaya Center, Qatar University, CNA Qatar, QSTP, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Exxon Mobil, Shell Oil, and, of course Qatar Development Bank. CMU-Q is proud to be an active member of the Qatar community of entrepreneurship promoters. We think Al Fikra plays an important role in increasing the awareness of young entrepreneurs of their opportunities here in Qatar.”
The seventh edition of the Al-Fikra National Business Competition was launched on December 6, 2017 and was spread across three phases: The first stage began with evaluating the submitted ideas, while the second was more of offering workshops and training courses to the participants in order to present clear and integrated business plans. Finally, the last stage saw the presentation of business plans and thorough assessment by the jury on criteria such as creativity, innovation, scalability and feasibility. The competition awards are not limited to providing financial support, as they also offer consultative services, financing programs, Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC) services, and “Al Dhameen” program, in addition to gaining experience through different stages of the competition. Qatar Development Bank provided support to entrepreneurs throughout the competition, from inventing the idea to bringing their products to international acclaim.
Al Fikra is an educational initiative to nurture and develop entrepreneurs in Qatar through workshops aimed at developing their entrepreneurial business ideas and transforming them into successful projects. The competition also aims to encourage them to establish new companies and promote a culture of entrepreneurship in Qatar, while marking a major milestone in their entrepreneurial career as it empowers them to form partnerships and establish excellent relationships with investment institutions, banks and strategic partners. Moreover, Al Fikra helps Qatari entrepreneurs hone their skills, develop their capacities and showcase their innovative work, as well as provides them with the necessary support, towards contributing to economic diversification and sustainable development in an innovative way.