StartUp Bahrain, Bahrain’s startup ecosystem provides startups with suitable guidance and support through connecting them with the right entities in the ecosystem, and one of StartUp Bahrain’s strongest pillars of the ecosystem is Rowad.
If you have read our previous post on the unique services Rowad offers, then you must be familiar with their mission to foster the creation and development of enterprises through a holistic ecosystem platform for entrepreneurs. But how did Rowad start and how does it foster startups exactly? There is no one better than Areije Al Shakar, Senior Vice President Bahrain Development Bank who led the founding of the Rowad program platform to answer these questions.
Rowad is a comprehensive platform created by Bahrain Development Bank (BDB). It is designed to empower entrepreneurs and startups in starting their business by providing them with products and services at any stage of the business cycle.
“At BDB, we see Rowad as a neutral platform supporting the startup ecosystem. We provide guidance to entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs through referring them to the relevant players within the ecosystem,” said Areije.
BDB offers a holistic program to entrepreneurs through the Developments Services within the Rowad platform, these include:
In order to understand this better, we asked Areije on each of the above.
To Begin with, Rowad Program provides coaching, training, mentoring, access to network organizations, and exclusive events. Rowad events include Rowad Talk, Rowad Majlis, Rowad Workshops, The Speed, and Invested Event. If you’ve been to their events before, then you are familiar with their superb venues and informative content.
Areije also added: “We have support tools as well, such as guidance with startup development plans, and guide maps, all aiming to help and support entrepreneurs and startups. In addition to the Rowad magazine, which focused on FinTech and the evolution of business in its latest issue.”
Now that you have a better understanding of Rowad Program we can assure you that the fun doesn’t just end here. As they put “fun” in funding, through their accelerator program, Seed Fuel.
“Seed Fuel-Rowad is Bahrain’s pioneer accelerator program developed by the BDB, providing startups at seed and early stages with coaching, mentoring, training, access to investors and networks, special startup services and perks, and up to BHD 25,000 in equity investment funding. Seed Fuel-Rowad is part of the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) as a pioneer accelerator building startup communities.”
This has been built based on research that attributes to Bahrain’s startup culture. Currently, Seed Fuel’s portfolio contains 6 startups, and according to Areije, they are looking forward to having more in 2018.
Moving on to the third platform, Invested is an investor community platform established in 2016. “The Invested Platform provides investors access to tools and knowledge, to support them through their startup investment journeys. Invested has a growing investor population that includes angels, VCs, and corporates,” mentioned Areije.
Invested also hosts educational events twice a year, targeted to current angels and potential startup investors, in order to further develop the startup ecosystem pillars.
It is important to mention that last year was a huge year for Rowad, and Areije confirms. “In 2017 we were very proud of our own success of having Seed Fuel enter the GAN network as a startup launch accelerator. Seed Fuel is the first Bahraini homegrown accelerator to join this global network and the first in GCC. We look forward to more successes coming out of BDB’s Rowad program.”
Lately, we have witnessed a massive growth of FinTech in the Kingdom, and in Rowad’s latest magazine issue, as we mentioned earlier, there was a focus on FinTech and startups.
The reason behind that as Areije stated: “Fintech has been a focus for the region and the world. It is an area that has been disrupting financial institutions for some time, but I see it as a new era where technology is redesigning the way businesses can perform. It is an evolution of the industry and the economy. All large organizations were once startups and they evolved as they grew to succeed; so startups are important and will always be important as long as we continue to grow and evolve.”
It is no doubt that Rowad is fostering the creation and development of enterprises, to enhance growth and productivity through providing a holistic ecosystem for entrepreneurs.
BDB’s Rowad Program continuously aims to be dynamic and meet the needs of the ever-changing and growing entrepreneurial community. The Rowad platform will introduce new features in 2018, and our readers need to watch out for them this year!