Bahrain

Bahrain

MEMBERS:
Tamkeen

Bahrain has made impressive progress in the startup space in recent years. Local startups played an important role in ensuring economic continuity through technological innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic by enabling existing businesses to embrace technology.

Dr Jarmo Kotilaine
Tamkeen
Top 10 MENA Ecosystem: Affordable Talent
Top 10 MENA Ecosystem: Funding
Top 15 MENA Ecosystem: Performance

Highlights

With its diversified economy, young educated workforce, and ease of doing business, Bahrain was well positioned to play a regionally significant role in developing start-up entrepreneurship. Bahrain is an attractive location for founders from elsewhere, permitting 100% foreign ownership of business assets across the economy and levying no corporate or income taxes. A number of regional and local accelerators have established a presence in the Kingdom in recent years. Bahrain has particularly strong credentials in the area of FinTech, building on the country’s long history as a regional financial hub. Bahrain FinTech Bay (BFB) is a dedicated FinTech-focused hub that has further benefited from proactive regulatory and institutional support from the Central Bank of Bahrain. The Build for Bahrain Acceleration Program, held by BFB in partnership with the U.S. State Department’s Middle-East Partnership Initiative, offers its own 6-week acceleration program. BFB is also collaborating with Standard Chartered and the Supreme Council for Women to run SC Women in Tech Bahrain, an accelerator program targeted at helping female-led startups to scale. BFB has also entered into other partnerships in order to support particular sub-sectors within the Kingdom. Together with R3, a leading enterprise blockchain software provider, BFB will provide key resources for blockchain-based startups within the ecosystem. BFB has also joined forces with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) to develop joint projects to bolster Proptech within the Kingdom.

Ecosystem by the numbers

TOTAL EARLY STAGE FUNDING
<$50 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$431 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE
<$100 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$10.5 bn
MEDIAN SEED ROUND
$59.5 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$494 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND
$0.9 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$2.7 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY
$33.4 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$42.1 k

Sub-sector Strengths

Fintech

Fintech hub Bahrain FinTech Bay (BFB) has attracted more than 100 local and international partners, incubated 15 companies, and published 8 in-depth ecosystem reports. Its Venture Acceleration Platform is designed to catalyse the growth of fintech companies targeting the MENA region.​ The Georgetown FinTech Program is a 12-week course covering skills relevant to the sub-sector delivered by the Georgetown McDonough School of Business. BFB and the FinTech Association of Israel – FinTech Aviv are working together to facilitate communication between entrepreneurs and investors in both countries. In February 2021 open banking platform Tarabut Gateway secured a $13 million seed funding round.

Reasons to move your startup to Bahrain

Attractive Business Environment

There are no taxes in Bahrain on income, sales, capital gains, or estates, with the exception of some businesses that operate in the oil and gas sector. The Kingdom makes it extremely convenient to establish a business and allows 100% foreign ownership of business assets. It is the only Gulf state to permit equal business freedoms across all sectors throughout the country.

Highly Skilled Workforce

Bahrain is home to a young, highly skilled workforce with the best human capital development in the MENA region. Over 70% of tech industry employees are local Bahrainis, 60% are in the 18-24 age range, 90% are fluent in both English and Arabic, and 89% hold either a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree. 44% hold a professional certification.

Low Cost of Living

Bahrain’s apartment rental costs are among the cheapest in the Gulf states making the cost of living lower than in many neighboring countries. Foreign real estate investors are allowed to purchase properties in specific areas of the country known as freehold areas. Bahrain’s cost competitiveness is further boosted by convenient access to the rest of the Gulf region and beyond.

Startup Community

Startup Genome
Members

Startup Genome
Partners

Bahrain Fintech Bay
500 Startups
Al Doseri Investments
Bahrain Development Bank
Bahrain Fashion Incubator
Brinc
C5 Capital & C5 Accelerate
Corporate Hub
Economic Development Board
Environment Arabia
Flat6Labs Bahrain
Kickstart Bahrain
Level Z
Nest Accelerator
Osool
Rowad Program
Social Media Club
Startup MGZN
StartupBahrain
Tenmou - The Bahrain Business Angels Company
UNIDO - Bahrain
Yo Startups

Featured Articles from
Local Ambassadors

Ali Abdulla
Ali Abdulla is the Head of Ecosystem and Marketing at Bahrain FinTech Bay, which is the leading FinTech hub in the region. In his present position, Ali actively coordinates with external actors to identify and develop opportunities for meaningful collaboration in the FinTech ecosystem.
Ali Abdulla | VP at FinTech Consortium | Head of Ecosystem and Marketing at Bahrain FinTech Bay
Jenan Al-Mukharriq
A project manager with passion for content creation and empowering communities. Jenan is a highly driven community builder and organising member of the StartUp Bahrain ecosystem.
Jenan Al-Mukharriq | Ambassador
Pakiza Abdulrahman
Pakiza joined the EDB in 2017 in the capacity of Manager for the Startups. She is considered the Project leader for the @StartUpBahrain, working closely with the digital startups & collaborating with community stakeholders within the private & public sector to establish Bahrain as a global startup hub for the MENA region. With 14 years experience in the telecom sector, Pakiza has lead the Corporate Sustainability and Social Responsibility unit at Zain Telecom, responsible for the company’s strategic programs for community development, youth empowerment and environmental stewardship.
Pakiza Abdulrahman | Ambassador
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