2020 has been a year defined by near unprecedented disruption and global upheaval, and yet also by rapid digital transformation across all sectors and the emergence of entirely new industries. In short, a year marked by new challenges and opportunities alike. Like much of the rest of the region, Bahrain has doubled down on its support for the startup and SME sectors, putting small business front and centre of post-COVID economic recovery plans. From Healthcare to Retail; FinTech to Startups, the quarter has seen a diverse range of new additions to the Bahrain ecosystem. We are delighted to share some of the highlights with you below.
At the very end of September, the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) granted UK-headquartered FinTech Fasset, a first-of its-kind authorisation to test its solutions for the tokenisation of hard assets in Bahrain’s FinTech Regulatory Sandbox. Fasset is a provider of blockchain-powered platforms for the financing of sustainable infrastructure, with the aim of addressing climate change acceleration by bridging the sustainable infrastructure funding gap which is projected by the World Economic Forum to reach some US$ 15 trillion by 2040. In turn, this helps to create a new class of assets for investors built on blockchain and rooted in real-world, physical investments that allows for a never-before-possible level of portfolio diversification. The company has already raised some US$ 4.7 million in pre-seed investment from strategic backers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Singapore.
JustMop is exactly the kind of innovative startup that has fared best in the unpredictable era of the pandemic. The Turkey-based online on-demand cleaning services marketplace employs a savvy combination of technology with a deep and responsive understanding of fast-evolving consumer needs. First established in 2014, JustMop has just launched in Bahrain to take advantage of the Kingdom’s rapidly growing opportunity for on-demand cleaning services. It brought with it well over US $100,000 in investment as well as creating a number of local employment opportunities. With hygiene still high on the list of priorities for consumers during these uncertain times and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future, JustMop can only grow from strength to strength.
Bahrain Pharma is a US $30 million specialty healthcare company focused on improving lives while creating value in both the pharmaceutical sector and nutraceutics. The company develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes branded pharmaceutical, neutraceutical and generic products. The company is already a key pillar of the Kingdom’s pharmaceuticals and healthcare strategy, but in June secured approval to begin trial production of pharmaceuticals. It has been licensed to produce gel capsule and soluble syrups. This will create Bahrain’s first high-value, high-skilled pharmaceutical manufacturing jobs. The company intends to cater to the entire MENA region with Bahrain as its regional hub, but will have the full potential to extend exports to East Asia and other regions around the world.
Mall of Dilmunia
Described as a “distinctively unique hub of retail, contemporary dining, lively entertainment and adventurous play in Bahrain”, the newly opened Mall of Dilmunia is designed to augment and improve upon your traditional retail experiences while embracing both form and function. The new mall includes slick and stylish architecture, verdant landscaping, a grandiose canal, dancing fountains, an adventure arena for children complete with an ice skating rink, climbing walls and soccer pitches as well as the Kingdom’s first credible aquarium. The Mall of Dilmunia is already fast becoming a popular attraction for Bahrainis and residents. As the world begins to collectively emerge from various lockdowns, it should prove an equally attractive draw for international visitors too.
In short, once again Bahrain’s environment has ensured that traditional businesses and innovative new ideas can thrive together – even in times of global crisis. Bahrain’s agility and boldness are seeing its ecosystem continue to grow. As we enter the “new normal” that stretches ahead, the EDB is turning its attention to what successes Q4 can bring too.