Encouraging our entrepreneurs
That old saying about the difference between giving a man a meal for today and teaching him to fish so that he can make his own future is especially true when it comes to the difference between finding a job and starting a business. A job generates a 9 to 5 existence and a salary to meet most of the needs of one person. A business generates jobs. Don’t get me wrong – jobs are a politically charged subject matter because it is the birthright of everybody to be suitably and fruitfully employed and the State has to ensure that people have access to the training that equips them for jobs that the market demands. Besides, not everybody has the appetite to become an entrepreneur.
Forcing people to take up roles that they are not suited for is dangerous economically and socially. However, we must make available as many avenues of enterprise as possible, especially to our youth who will occupy the workplace of the 21st century. That calls for an overhaul of the ecosystem that enables stakeholders to contribute to national progress. In Bahrain, our leaders have created a visionary plan to tap the entrepreneurial spirit of our people. HRH the Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa has always emphasised the need to strengthen SME culture and enable would-be entrepreneurs to find the right support for their business. This has led to a flexible legal environment and responsive commercial and labour laws.
Our training systems are finally responding to workplace needs with better vocational and technical training. The missing key to this jigsaw still remains financing – even our development agencies are notoriously close-fisted when it comes to backing entrepreneurial ventures. As long as it is easier to get a car loan after three months of employment and tough to get a start-up business loan, our entrepreneurial work culture will grow only at a slow pace. We must speed up the process because every entrepreneur generates jobs and helps to harness talent in a whole new way for the benefit of the country. In this connection, it is heartening to see the interest shown by angel investors from around the region in Bahrain’s entrepreneurs and SMEs.
The hard-won success stories of our Bahraini businesswomen and men have sent out the message to the region that we are here to stay and worth growing with. But that does not absolve traditional banks from doing their bit for entrepreneurs. They too should reach out and be a part of this growth story