Despite a global climate of protectionism, rising financing costs, and restricted market access, Industry and Commerce Minister Abdulla bin Adel Fakhro, struck an optimistic tone at the World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum (WEIF) 2024.

Mr Fakhro acknowledged a concerning trend of protectionism and rising financing costs, which can stifle investment and particularly impact startups struggling to access capital. He further noted the increasing difficulty in entering new markets due to trade restrictions.

However, amidst these challenges, Mr Fakhro emphasised the potential for entrepreneurs and innovators to thrive. “Great challenges come with great opportunities,” he stated, positioning entrepreneurs as the ideal group to capitalise on these opportunities.

The minister went beyond the traditional view of entrepreneurship as simply starting a business. He emphasised its role as the driving force behind innovation, progress, and economic prosperity. True entrepreneurs, he explained, “are not just starting businesses, they are coming up with solutions to the world’s biggest problems, taking risks, and creating opportunities.”

Recognising the critical role of entrepreneurs in Bahrain’s future, the minister asserted the government’s strong commitment to supporting them. He highlighted efforts to create a robust ecosystem that fosters sustainable startups and empowers entrepreneurs.

This ecosystem, Mr Fakhro stressed, requires collaboration with the private sector to nurture a culture of innovation. He reiterated the importance of incentivising “smart, young entrepreneurs” and creating an environment that allows for calculated risks and the possibility of failure without hindering future endeavours.

Alluding to the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation-Investment and Technology Promotion Office (UNIDO-ITPO) Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion (EDIP) programme, also known as the ‘Bahrain Model’, the minister said it has a proven track-record in helping aspiring entrepreneurs and investors launch small businesses that export goods and services.

“This successful model, adopted by over 52 countries, empowers entrepreneurs, fosters economic growth, and reduces poverty by creating jobs and stimulating trade,” he asserted.

Through workshops and guidance, EDIP equips participants with essential business skills and connects them with resources like funding and networking opportunities.

WEIF 2024 serves as a platform for navigating the current challenges and unlocking the potential of entrepreneurship for a more prosperous future.

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