That is why we sat down with Pakiza Abdulrahman, Manager, ICT at Startup Bahrain, and we got the chance to pick her brain about the Startup Bahrain movement, and the things that young people could benefit from and need to know about.
How would you explain the Startup Bahrain Initiative to young Bahrainis looking to get into entrepreneurship?
StartUp Bahrain is a community initiative that brings together entrepreneurs, corporates, investors, incubators, educational institutions, and the Bahrain Government, to promote startup culture in Bahrain.
Whatever sector or stage of development, Startup Bahrain’s mission is to create an environment where young businesses can flourish and take advantage of the rapidly evolving Gulf marketplace.
So far, our successes include launching the first crowdfunding and Shari’a compliant crowdfunding regulations, and a brand new FinTech Sandbox, along with launching a host of new incubators and accelerators. But that’s just the beginning, new bankruptcy laws and new funding schemes are all just around the corner.
Many young Bahrainis or fresh graduates may have great viable business ideas but are overwhelmed by misconceptions about starting a business like ‘you need to have experience’ or ‘finding funding is difficult’. What would you say to them from your experiences?
It is indeed overwhelming to start your own business, but in this day and age, my advice to them, to quote Nike, would be ‘Just do it’. Startups are more about passion, determination and the willingness to learn from your mistakes than about your experience. True, funding may prove challenging to find, but with the right mindset, enough preparation and once again passion and determination you can convince even the toughest venture capitalist!
With all the startup support entities, events, and programs, where should young entrepreneurs start and what opportunities could they seek?
www.StartupBahrain.com aims to provide a platform for the Startup community to help them grow no matter what stage they are at with their startup. The website includes an ‘Events’ page that lists every startup related event happening in Bahrain, from small meet-ups of like-minded people discussing the challenges in game development for example to large-scale events such as AWS Summit & Unbound that are happening in the Middle East for the first time. Entrepreneurs should seek out these events and widen their network to actively look for specialized mentors
You are a big supporter of up and coming startups, what sort of potential do you see in young Bahrainis?
Bahrainis are well educated, bilingual and eager to lead. They are well exposed to the technological trends and are able to solve the challenges taking place in the region and innovate exciting solutions to overcome these challenges. We have seen a wide range of startups that are able to disrupt traditional businesses, like Fish.me who can now deliver locally sourced fish to your doorstep at the click of a button.
What is your personal ambition for the startup community in Bahrain?
I would like to see the next trailblazer startup of the world sprout from Bahrain. Bahrain has long been a trading hub, connecting the region with the world, from trading on the silk route to being the financial hub in the region. I am looking forward to seeing this evolve into Bahrain becoming the hub from which startups access the Gulf market and beyond.