Over 2000 exhibitors and delegates flocked to the inaugural Tamkeen (Labour Fund) Expo in Bahrain earlier this month. Held under the patronage of Tamkeen's Chairman H.E. Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, the expo featured workshops led by renowned local and regional entrepreneurship experts.
Though each workshop covered some fairly standard topic in the space, including social media, marketing, quality systems enhancement, business planning and development, exhibitions, e-procurement and entrepreneurship, the delivery and experience was far from standard. In fact, the workshops were completely booked prior to the event, with over 1800 registered over the two-days.
I attended the Quality Systems Enhancement workshop myself and was impressed and entertained by the facilitator’s use of engaging experiential exercises- including Legos- to present what is a notoriously dry topic.
The two-day mega event also featured 80 of Tamkeen’s program beneficiaries in an exhibition- representing sectors from farming to fashion. I spoke with a few of Tamkeen’s beneficiaries about the event and how Tamkeen has helped their business to grow.
“As a small developing business, Golden Trust (GT) has benefited greatly from initiatives offered by Tamkeen, such as the Quality Management Systems program, which has enabled us to successfully receive the ISO 9001-2008 certification for ‘Design and Provision of Training & Consulting Services," said GT Founder Lulwa AlMutlaq. “We were also able to benefit from the Technical Assistance program where we are able to secure presentation equipment that added greater value to the teaching and delivery of classes.”
In discussing the ecosystem in Bahrain as a whole, Adulkhaliq Milad, Founder of Milad for Marketing and Promotions, and founding member of the Bahrain Young Entrepreneurs Association, explained the market challenges he faced in his Bahraini company over the last 20 years. “Due to the limited size of the domestic market, the government needs to help companies to open new markets outside Bahrain,” he said.
Indeed, Tamkeen’s Promotions initiatives enables Bahraini entrepreneurs to participate in exhibitions abroad to market their products and services with 80%of the cost subsidized.
Mr. Milad says Tamkeen has also played an integral role in his company’s success through access to training courses at the Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance (BIBF) and providing access to low-cost financing solutions.
Many of the entrepreneurs in attendance seemed to share appreciation for both Tamkeen’s enterprise development plans and human capital development programs. To date, more than 66,000 Bahraini individuals and enterprises in Bahrain have benefited from Tamkeen programs.
The event acted as a platform for Bahrain’s community of entrepreneurs to share common experiences, challenges and strategies to reach the local and region markets and continue to build the Bahraini ecosystem in partnership together.