The Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Development Company, Enterprise Qatar (EQ), awarded in a ceremony a total of QR6 million in prize money to six teams at the Al Fikra Business Plan Competition Awards Ceremony on 21 May 2014.

The ceremony was held under the patronage of HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, the Minister of Economy and Commerce and Chairman of EQ, at Doha’s Sharq Village & Spa. It marked the end of this year’s Al Fikra Business Plan Competition which was held over four months and delivered in partnership with Qatar Business Incubation Centre (QBIC), Qatar Development Bank (QDB), ExxonMobil, Sasol, Qatar University and Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. HE Sheikh Ahmed Al Thani, said:

The aim of the Al Fikra Business Plan Competition is not merely to collect ideas but instead to ignite the spirit of entrepreneurship and inspire our youth to choose a unique career path that reflects their creativity. Through this competition, we want our future leaders to acquire the skills needed to showcase their innovative ideas and add value to our society. The hope is that we can depend on our new generation to diversify our national economy…With this, I address all of our Qatari male and females to say, even though you may not have thorough knowledge or access to proper finances to bring your ideas to life, Enterprise Qatar is here to open the doors and help you turn your dreams into a reality. Our hope lies in you, our new generation of young entrepreneurs and we are committed to providing you with a vast network of resources and support including, educational, training programmes and consultancy services.’

The Al Fikra initiative reinforces EQ’s ethos of encouraging the establishment of SMEs to foster a culture of entrepreneurship in Qatar. During the competition applicants underwent business plan development training and were coached in financial statement analysis. Following which their finalised business plans were submitted and subsequently evaluated by a panel of experts.

Commenting on the increasing popularity of the competition Ali Al Khulaifi, EQ’s Acting CEO, said:

The Al Fikra competition 2014 saw wide participation from people seeking to creatively express themselves while serving their society. This year, we received a total of 178 business proposals.’

The winners in the professional category included ‘Q Talent’ by Maryam Al Subaiey and Maryam Al Emadi (ICT sector) in first place; ‘Al Galayel Simulator Game’ by Mohammed Doumir and Mohammed Jassim Ahmed Al Kuwari (ICT sector) in second place; and ‘LeFreej Café’ by Abdulaziz Al Sulaiti, Eman Al Sulaiti and Issam Alameh (Food and Beverage sector) in third place.

Commenting on the incubation services to be made available to the winners Amal Al Mannai, Vice Chairman of QBIC, said:

QBIC is proud to be the incubation partner, and part of the judging committee, for the Al Fikra Business Plan Competition. We look forward to steering these winners through our lean start-up methodology via the action oriented teaching programme that will be presented to the entrepreneurs during the incubation period.’

The winners of the student category included ‘F8’ by Ali Abbas, Saad Ahmed, Sabih Bin Wasi and Noorul Huda Admaney (ICT sector) in first place; ‘Smart Cart’ by Amna Ahmed Mabrouk, Maya Hamed, Noora Al Muhannadi and Asil Al Bardawil (ICT sector) in second place;  and ‘LifeSpan+’ by Daniel Cheweiky and Sultan Al Jaber (ICT sector) in third.

Also a winner at the Al Fikra Business Plan Competition as ‘Best University’ is Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. Professor George White from Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar said:

Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar is pleased to support the Al Fikra Qatari Business Plan Competition as we have a long tradition of sponsoring such competitions. In Qatar, we endeavour to encourage entrepreneurship through our classes and by supporting and promoting Al Fikra. We firmly believe this competition will make a significant contribution to realising the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030.’

In addition to cash prizes, the six winning teams were awarded up to two years of business incubation services and professional development under the guidance of QBIC. The prizes also include managerial and technical advisory services to help the teams establish their business from within EQ.

For more information, visit Enterprise Qatar’s website.