Member Spotlight: Small, Mighty, Global Bahrain

Startup Genome
on January 31, 2019
In mid-April, thousands of people from around the world will descend upon Bahrain for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, the annual event put on by our partner the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN). For a few days, entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, philanthropists, ecosystem builders and others will make this small island nation the center of the entrepreneurial universe. Startup Genome will be there, and we’re excited to highlight the startup ecosystem in Bahrain.

Bahrain is the smallest state in the Middle East, and has been a pioneer in seeking to build a diversified economy away from natural resource dependence. A large part of its diversification strategy has revolved around finance, in particular making the country a center of Islamic finance. This has led  to construction of a clear regulatory structure that has also helped build a platform for fintech startups. The largest fintech hub in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region, FinTechBay, is in Manama, Bahrain’s capital.

The impact of the government’s efforts to support entrepreneurship are evident in our finding that 70 percent of young Bahrainis are interested in the idea of starting their own business. Clearly, there is widespread and substantial enthusiasm in Bahrain for the notion of creating one's own economic future through entrepreneurship.

This is one of the facts we highlighted in our 2018 Global Startup Ecosystem Report. Now, we need your help in collecting additional information on startups and the startup ecosystem in Bahrain.

We are currently collecting the founder surveys which power the 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) from the leaders of tech-enabled business under 10 years old. Bahrain founders that participate receive an individualized assessment benchmarking their startup locally and against 45+ ecosystems worldwide, as well as discounts and access to software and services. To take the 10-15 minutes survey by 1/31, click here.

The high level of expressed interest in business creation reflects, in part, the dedicated efforts of the public sector. The Bahrain government, through Tamkeen, the Economic Development Board, and others, has been active in supporting the startup ecosystem and pushing entrepreneurship into other areas. Bahrain hosts gaming events that attract more than 15,000 attendees combined: the IGN convention, Bahrain Gaming Experience, Animania Bahrain and COMICON. Since the MENA markets for online and mobile gaming are growing at 13 and 18 percent, respectively, this makes sense.

Most interestingly, Bahrain introduced a Cloud-First Policy in 2017. Under this forward-looking effort, Bahrain’s government will focus on adopting cloud-based services for its own IT systems and will help support businesses in transitioning to the cloud.

We’ll highlight these and other efforts in the 2019 GSER and related publications.

Completing the survey will help us and our partners in Bahrain—including Tamkeen—identify the strengths, gaps, and opportunities of the ecosystem. Effective action requires empirical information. Add your voice to the shaping of Bahrain’s economic future by contributing to the data.

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