We’re all familiar with the challenges and setbacks created by the global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Perhaps too familiar, that we tend to forget or overlook all the support we received throughout these unprecedented times.
Bahrain’s efforts during COVID-19
The COVID-19 global pandemic has reached Bahrain too. And while our businesses have also struggled in these trying times just like businesses from all over the world have, as a country, we have pulled off a commendable job by not letting the pandemic go haywire in the Kingdom. And as you have probably heard it, Tamkeen, Bahrain’s Labor Fund, has played a crucial role in achieving that feat.
Tamkeen has been a backbone for Bahrain’s startup ecosystem and the entrepreneurial community. The current crisis has only highlighted the Labor Fund’s unparalleled contribution to Bahrain’s socio-economic progress through thick and thin.
The following is a brief account of all the good work Tamkeen has so far done during the COVID-19 global pandemic to help Bahraini citizens and their businesses. You can also check out our COVID-19 page over here, to track all the latest news, updates and announcements.
Tamkeen’s contributions during the COVID-19 crisis
- In March 2020, following the Royal Directives of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, alongside the Government’s announcement of the financial and economic stimulus package, Tamkeen launched the Business Continuity Support program. The move would later help a rather large number of startups and entrepreneurs within sectors that have been adversely affected by the global pandemic
- Tamkeen proactively evaluated and scaled the impact of the Business Continuity Support program right from the beginning. Less than a month after its launch, Tamkeen’s Board of Directors discussed the direction of the program and amended necessary changes. Among other things, the labor fund also encouraged its customers to reach out to Tamkeen through its Virtual and Voice platforms to ensure their safety.
- During April, Tamkeen announced that the reach of the Business Continuity Support program was also expanded to include taxicab drivers, public transport, and bus drivers, driving instructors, and kindergarten and nursery workers. Earlier, the program was limited to only small and micro-enterprises.
- By the second week of April, Tamkeen started accepting applications from small and micro enterprises seeking financial grants. It was a part of the Business Continuity Support program designed to provide businesses with liquidity so they could continue operations even during the crisis.
- In the fourth week of April, Tamkeen facilitated the Skiplino application to enable its clients to book appointments virtually. This was a much-needed move for streamlining its customer services using a comprehensive electronic platform. As StartupMGZN previously reported, this approach was in line with Tamkeen’s efforts to automate all services, while facilitating the audit procedures at customer service branches whenever needed.
- By the end of April 2020, Tamkeen began the distribution of financial grants to businesses most adversely affected by the global pandemic, as part of its Business Continuity Support initiative. The Chairman of Labour Fund Tamkeen, His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, confirmed the move saying that more than 17,000 applications were received since the application process started in mid-April.
- Tamkeen’s Chairman briefed the media in early May to highlight the far-reaching impact of the Business Continuity program. He confirmed that only a small percentage out of the 17,000 applicants didn’t qualify for financial grants in the first phase. The application window for the stimulus package reopened on May 6 for businesses with fewer than 50 employees and/or revenue and capital worth less than 1 million BHD.
- New data released in the second week of May showed that more than 10,000 small and micro enterprises across Bahrain became beneficiaries of the Business Continuity Support program. Tamkeen CEO Dr. Ebrahim Janahi also noted that the qualified businesses could apply online for partial coverage of their monthly operational expenses. Depending on the number of employees, each of these businesses received between BHD 1,050 and BHD 12,000.
- On May 16, Tamkeen extended the application window by three days as a relief for small and micro enterprises that started their Business Continuity Support program without completing the rest of their application forms. The move helped dozens of businesses that would be left out of the program otherwise.
- In mid-June, Tamkeen announced that all those COVID-affected businesses that didn’t qualify for the Business Continuity program would be given a second chance to apply for financial aid. Dr. Janahi emphasized that the labor fund was trying hard to ensure that no enterprise genuinely in need of assistance was left behind to fend for its own in these trying times.
- In early July, the 2020 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) by Startup Genome appreciated Tamkeen’s efforts to help Bahraini businesses navigate the challenges thrown in by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The report also named Bahrain as one of the world’s top five fastest-growing startup ecosystems with fewer than 1,000 startups.
- On July 12, Tamkeen announced that financial grants to businesses dealing in sectors most affected by the global pandemic would be doubled. Additionally, taxicab drivers, public transport, and bus drivers, driving instructors, and kindergarten and nursery workers would also benefit from the financial grants for another three months. .
- Tamkeen, in a joint press conference with the National Medical Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on July 22, 2020, in which they shared an update on the reach of the Business Continuity program. Dr. Janahi briefed the media by saying that an additional 1,914 saloons, 393 restaurants and cafes, about 350 travel offices, 205 gyms, and 193 other institutions received financial grants from the labor fund to sustain their operations.
If you have any query or feedback about Tamkeen’s Business Continuity program that you would like to share with the Startup Bahrain community, feel free to reach out using any of our social media channels over at Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!