Unido plans major Bahrain Model push
Manama, January 27, 2010
Bahrain's experience of a United Nations programme that helps aspiring entrepreneurs and investors to establish small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is to be rolled out in eight more countries.
UN Industrial Development Organisation's (Unido) Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion programme, known as 'the Bahrain Model' has already been adopted by 21 countries and others in the pipeline include, Africa, China, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Libya, and Cameroon islands.
'We are taking this Bahrain model through our offices and supporting its promotion,' said Unido director general Dr Kandeh Yumkella at a Press conference held at Unido offices in the Diplomatic Area yesterday.
'People from other Unido offices will come here to learn from Bahrain's model.
'We will start the programme in four or five countries this year, starting with Egypt, China, Lebanon, Syria and Sudan.'
Dr Yumkella said Unido was also keen to do more in support of aspiring Bahraini female entrepreneurs.
'We want to expand the entrepreneur programme in Bahrain, targeting more women interested in going into business and helping them in training and financing and holding their hand through the whole process,' he said.
The Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion programme is aimed at helping potential entrepreneurs and investors translate their ideas into commercial ventures in the manufacturing and service sectors.
The emphasis is on SMEs, which have been recognised all over the world as an effective means of facilitating economic development.
A total of 1,200 Bahrainis have benefited from the enterprise programme since it was established in 2001, said Unido/Investment and Technology Promotion Office head Dr Hashim Hussein.
During this time the programme has helped to establish 496 small and medium businesses, generate BD302.4 million ($800 million) and create 12,500 jobs.
Dr Yumkella was visiting Bahrain on the invitation of the government to witness the launch of the International Smart Building Centre, which aims to provide information, technical support and training to support real estate developers and contractors in Bahrain in adopting environment-friendly methods through the application of innovative building techniques.
The centre is a joint venture between Eskan Bank, Islamic Development Bank, China Building Materials Academy and Unido's Investment and Technology Promotion offices.
Dr Yumkella also attended the launch of a BD1m fund that will be available through the Ibda'a (Creativity) Bank to women needing microfinance for business ventures.
Aspiring entrepreneurs will be able to apply for loans ranging between BD200 and BD3,000.
The launch was held under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, who is Supreme Council for Women (SCW) chairwoman.
The event at the SCW in Riffa included a graduation ceremony for the first batch of women who had already benefited from the bank's micro-loans.
Several business women who had established SMEs were also honoured.
Dr Yumkella praised the initiative and the women who had establish their own businesses.
'It was good to hear women speaking not only about what they had achieved but also where they want to be - their future aspirations,' he said.
Dr Yumkella was also impressed with the International Smart Building Centre and said there could be an opportunity to replicate the initiative in other countries but Bahrain's would first be used as a training hub.
'It's important to show results, if the training centre begins to operate and starts testing products then it will be easy to expand,' he said.
During his three-day visit, which concluded yesterday, Dr Yumkella met Princess Sabeeka, Arab Gulf Programme for UN Development Organisations president Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Housing Minister Shaikh Ibrahim bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro, ministers from Sudan and Egypt and business leaders. UN Information Centre director Nejib Friji also attended the Press conference.-TradeArabia News Service