The number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Qatar venturing into foreign markets has been growing, with the Qatar Development Bank (QDB) now on a more aggressive campaign in encouraging manufacturers here to expand into regional and international markets.
Talking to The Peninsula on the sidelines of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue’s Business Forum which recently concluded in Doha, QDB Acting Executive Director of Export Development & Promotion, Hamad Salem Mejegheer, said over 300 non-hydrocarbons companies have exported their products in 2018 under the various programmes of QDB, and have generated about $2.1bn in revenue.
He added: “We are focusing on the non-hydrocarbons exporters. And many of them really did a great job in exporting products that were made in Qatar last year. I think there is a good potential for the Qatari products, as the quality of the Qatari products is much higher compared to the other countries’ products because of the time and money that we invest in the exporting company and its product. There are more companies which are now exporting. Last year, we have also moved 12 companies from the non-exporters category to the exporters’ category”.
Mejegheer said the exported products were mainly construction materials, plastic, food and beverage, wood, furniture, and jewelries among others.
He added: “The products were exported to countries we have free trade agreements with. However, we’re now trying to focus on new markets. We’re opening new markets for our exporters in countries like Iraq, as well as in African countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda”.
According to Mejegheer, QDB provides full support to Qatari SMEs by promoting Qatari products in international exhibitions and corporate matchmaking events. QDB also conducts exports assessments for companies and provides them with consultants to develop and equip entrepreneurs with the necessary skills needed in expanding into foreign markets.
He also said: “We’re now issuing many projects with the International Trade Centre. Exporting is related to the awareness of the investor that his/her products can compete outside. And we’re now increasing awareness among the local manufacturers that their products can really compete outside the country. And because Qatar is a small market for them, they can have a bigger market which is the world. They can go all over the world with their products and they can compete. And we can provide them with all the data they need in any country they are targeting to reach”.
To date, the QDB has already invested around QR8bn in its bid to support SMEs in the country, said Khalid Abdulla Al Mana, Executive Director of Business Finance at QDB.
Abdulrahman Al Suwaidi, Executive Director for Strategic & Business Development at QDB, also said the development bank has also invested QR6.3bn in direct lending, QR1bn in private guarantees, QR200m in investment, and QR100m in export finance.
Fahad Zainal, Chief Corporate Services Officer at Qatar Free Zones Authority, said: “There is a will from the government to support SMEs. And we have successful stories as well like for instance the Baladna. Lately we have been to Malaysia.
“And they wanted to replicate how Baladna was able to do it here within two years, in terms of technology and where we have reached in terms of production of milk and being self-sufficient versus Malaysia’s which has been there for long time and they are only being able to cover three percent of their consumption.
“So we are exporting and we are going outside because we have successful track records here in Qatar and we’re now also helping other countries through knowledge transfer.”
Source from: The Peninsula