OBG talks to Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, Chairman, Tamkeen

Interview: Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa

What are Tamkeen’s ongoing initiatives to enhance Bahrainisation in the domestic workforce? How do you foresee the labour market changing?

SHAIKH MOHAMMED BIN ESSA AL KHALIFA: Since its inception, Tamkeen has succeeded through its integrated dual approach, which targets both the workforce and private sector employers. Keeping Bahrainis at the very core of this process by fostering the creation and development of enterprises, Tamkeen provides support to enhance the productivity and growth of enterprises and individuals alike.

As of the end of 2012, Tamkeen has re-injected more than BD292m ($768.4m) into the market in the form of support programmes designed to enhance the capabilities of Bahrainis and private sector enterprises. This funding has benefitted some 66,000 Bahrainis and enterprises in the private sector.

In relation to the domestic workforce, Tamkeen’s human capital development programmes have supported more than 47,000 Bahrainis, including funding and training for nearly 30,000 Bahrainis. In addition, they enabled a further 3000 Bahrainis to find gainful employment, and more than 2000 Bahrainis to obtain professional certification in their respective fields.

According to the “Unified Arab Economic Report” and projections by the IMF, total investments in Bahrain between 2013 and 2017 are expected to reach $45bn. This will boost employment and business opportunities for Bahraini individuals and enterprises alike.

In what ways has the skills gap changed and how does Tamkeen plan to address this issue?

AL KHALIFA: Bahrain boasts a wealth of highly educated and qualified human capital, as well as a liberal and open economic environment bolstered by a strong and well-established regulatory framework. These advantages have made the kingdom a preferred gateway for companies looking to gain a foothold in the GCC market. The government has launched a number of reform initiatives meant to help diversify the national economy, with Tamkeen a cornerstone of this agenda.

To inform the blueprint for its strategy, Tamkeen has conducted a comprehensive study to analyse current skills in Bahrain’s labour market, as well as to identify future and emerging skills requirements, and to assess any current or projected gaps that need to be addressed to meet labour market demands. The results of the study were used to develop the overall strategy.

How does Tamkeen work with financial institutions to encourage financing for the private sector?

AL KHALIFA: Through its financing scheme portfolio, which has a current value of BD210m ($552.6m), Tamkeen has been instrumental in institutionalising the SME financing culture in Bahrain. This programme has enabled Bahraini enterprises, especially micro, small and medium-sized ones, to get the capital they need for growth and expansion through a wide range of low-cost and accessible sharia-compliant financing solutions. Financial support is being provided in cooperation with nine banks that have a local and regional presence: Bahrain Development Bank, Bahrain Islamic Bank, BMI Bank, Al Salam Bank, Kuwait Finance House, Khaleeji Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Family Bank and Ebdaa Bank. By the end of 2012, more than 19,000 enterprises had benefitted from Tamkeen’s financing and business support services. This includes over 4900 enterprises that have obtained financing solutions through Tamkeen’s Enterprise Finance programmes, over 1000 of which are start-ups.

Which segments are most important for Tamkeen to target to impact private sector development?

AL KHALIFA: As of early 2013 Tamkeen has helped 66,000 enterprises and individuals in education, health, public administration, construction, telecommunications, transport, business services, manufacturing, tourism and trade. As per the plan for 2013, Tamkeen has allocated BD89m ($236m) for ongoing and new projects and programmes that are set to serve more than 29,000 Bahrainis and private sector enterprises.

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The Report: Bahrain 2013

Economy chapter from The Report: Bahrain 2013

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