Bahrain is the place to be right now for businesses; it’s long been MENA’s financial and business hub. According to the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), Bahrain ranks the following according to these world-class organizations:
- 2nd in MENA for ‘Ease of doing business’ – World Bank.
- 1st in MENA for ‘ICT development’ – International Telecommunication Union report.
- 1st in MENA for ‘Youth development – Commonwealth; Youth Development Report.
- 1st globally in ‘Financial regulations’ – Thomson Reuters.
- 1st destinations for ‘Expats to live, work and raise a family’ – InterNations Expat Insider Survey.
Bahrain’s economy is poised to grow further with the presence of startups. Tech startups, in particular, have become a global buzzword, and Bahrain now more than ever requires more entrepreneurs to create tech startups. Why?
1. Startup culture encourages wide-spanning innovation.
Tech startup products are often innovative game-changers. Think of ride-hailing app Uber, accommodation app Airbnb, and the social media platform, Snapchat. Disruption is happening in many sectors, and it’s taking place in banking, with FinTech startups on the rise locally and regionally.
Furthermore, success stories from tech startups can have a positive impact/source of inspiration for the Bahraini community. Eat App’s success founded by Bahraini Nezar Kadhem, raised $3.2m till today, comes to mind. Reversely, startups value failures and setbacks as learning opportunities. So we need startups to help encourage a cultural shift in thinking about failure and success.
- Startups reinforce valuable team-building culture (that Bahrain can benefit from).
Unlike conventional corporate culture, tech startups founders highly value teamwork, collaboration, and community spirit as important for success. Startups bring about radical changes in the way we do things, and nowhere is this more evident than in the work ethic and culture. Many tech startup teams collaborate on projects in a way that promotes mutual respect and growth. Bahrain needs the kind of team-building that promotes integrity and passion for the product.
- Technology startups create jobs.
Because of their potential to scale and grow, tech startups usually require a highly skilled and sophisticated workforce. Investment in tech startups is already growing, and this will likely create more jobs that will help train Bahrainis.
- They’re lucrative (i.e., they bring a lot of money to our countries).
Tech startups make a lot of money real fast through the process of disruption and innovation. As Bahrain shifts away from the oil economy, it needs to focus on building on new sources of income that will help the country stay ahead. Luckily, Bahrain’s been a leading financial services hub for over 40 years. The country took a huge leap to help regulate FinTech startups with the help of the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), by introducing the sandbox regulations – allowing FinTech companies test their ideas with minimal risks and restrictions, as well as the launch of the largest FinTech hub in the region, the Bahrain FinTech Bay (BFB).
Overall, Bahrain does have some tech startups that are growing rapidly — think of Malaeb, Akalati, GetBaqala, Eat App, amongst others. What is needed now for the ecosystem to develop a cultural shift in the way we perceive entrepreneurship — in reality, businesses should always look to incorporating technology to scale operations.