UAE and Bahrain rise in world’s top 100 startup destinations ranking

Manama, June 18 2020: The UAE and Bahrain have ranked among the 100 top destinations for startups around the world, according to a new study by StartupBlink.

The research firm’s annual Startup Ecosystem Rankings Report calculates a score for each country based on tens of thousands of data points gathered from more than 50,000 members working as venture capitalists, founders and employees of small firms.

In this year’s rankings, the UAE came in at 43rd, while Bahrain jumped 20 places to 75th, ranked first and second respectively in the GCC. The report praised Bahrain’s “collaborative startup community” and “framework of legal and support systems for startups and entrepreneurs”. Initiatives including StartUp Bahrain, Tamkeen and Bahrain FinTech Bay were also highlighted – as well as favourable tax conditions and recent record investment highs.

The research also mentioned several Bahrain-based startups such as Rain, the first licensed cryptocurrency platform, and Skiplino – a cloud-based queue management system that allows companies to intelligently manage social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UAE, meanwhile, was recognised for the potential of its Arab-speaking market and close involvement of the government in the local startup ecosystem.

Commenting on the release of the report, Eli David, CEO of StartupBlink, said: “Good startup ecosystems are fundamental. They create jobs, boost the economy, increase tax revenue, improve quality of life and urban innovation, and attract and retain talent. As an entrepreneur, location will greatly influence the chances your startup will succeed.

“Knowing how well your ecosystem performs is also important. Corporations use these rankings to make decisions about future expansion, universities and consulting agencies use them for research, and governments and local development organization use them to gauge how well their programs are paying off.

“The efforts of governments, municipalities, and development organizations make a real difference. Knowing this information and measuring it mathematically without sugarcoating results helps track real progress and creates an urgency to encourage improvement.”

Pakiza Abdulrahman, Manager, Startups at Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “Picking a startup location is one of the most important choices a founder can make, affecting everything from taxation levels to market access and the cost of doing business.

“Startups coming to Bahrain join a thriving ecosystem that combines pro-enterprise regulation with competitive costs, backed by the support of a government that listens – not to mention our unrivaled access to the $1.5 trillion GCC market.

“We are delighted that the Bahrain approach – and that of the wider Arab region – continues to gain recognition and we look forward to enhancing our support for the startups of tomorrow and today.”

Bahrain offers startups an ideal testbed location for new ideas, combining pro-enterprise government policies with an ever-evolving ecosystem and a wide pool of international talent.

Startups in the Kingdom raised more than USD63 million in funding during 2016-2019, driven by a surge of investments in the MENA region in recent years –564 venture deals worth USD 704 million were made in 2019 compared to 294 deals in 2015, for example.

The full report can be viewed here: https://report.startupblink.com/

– End –

For more information, please contact:

Communications and Media Department

Economic Development Board

Phone: +973-17-589966

E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

About Bahrain Economic Development Board

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate.

The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com; for information about Bahrain visit www.bahrain.com.

Bahrain becomes 1st country in MENA to ratify United Nations treaty on electronic communications

 

Manama, June 14 2020: Bahrain has become the first country in MENA to ratify a key United Nations convention on electronic communications, helping to enable a new wave of digital business across the region and enhance investor protections.

The United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts (2005) aims to enhance commercial certainty by ensuring that contracts concluded and other communications exchanged electronically are as valid and enforceable as their traditional paper-based equivalents and by introducing specific principles surrounding the use of technology during signing processes. This will enter into force for Bahrain on January 1 2021.

The principles of the treaty include defining terminology such as ‘writing’ and ‘signature’ so that all parties are legally protected when entering into a contract. The convention also aims to remove legal obstacles to the use of electronic communications in enacting previous treaties that were first created before the widespread use of modern technology.

Bahrain became the 14th country globally to join the treaty, alongside major economies such as Singapore and Russia. Countries that have signed, but not yet ratified, the convention include China, the Republic of Korea and Saudi Arabia.

It comes after Bahrain made history in November 2018 by becoming the first nation to enact legislation based on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) e-commerce model laws. The move was part of a series of sweeping reforms aimed at bolstering the digital readiness of the GGC region’s US$1.5 trillion economy.

Commenting on the announcement, HE Khalid Humaidan, Chief Executive of Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “To build a truly digital economy in the GCC, it is essential that our regulation keeps pace with the latest developments – particularly at a time when more and more business is being conducted in the virtual realm.

“Bahrain is leading the way on tech-driven reforms and is committed to supporting the needs of entrepreneurs and investors as they work to build long-term growth in our thriving e-commerce landscape.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely with the United Nations as we stay on the cutting edge of legislative developments.”

Luca Castellani, Secretary of Working Group IV (Electronic Commerce) of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), noted: “The accession of Bahrain to this treaty completes the significant work that the Government of Bahrain and the UNCITRAL Secretariat have carried out together to provide Bahrain with a modern, efficient and effective enabling legal framework for the digital economy. I am confident that this will encourage more countries in the region and worldwide to adopt the latest UNCITRAL texts in the field.”

Stefano Pettinato, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme said: “By ratifying the UN Convention on electronic communications, the Kingdom of Bahrain sets an example on how digital technology, international law, and multilateralism are enabling factors for the promotion of international trade and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through greener and more efficient protocols.”

Further information about the Electronic Communications Convention is available on the UNCITRAL website.

 

For more information, please contact:

Strategic Communications

United Nations Development Programme

Phone: 973 17319423

Email: ali.salman@undp.org

 

Communications and Media Department

Economic Development Board

Phone: +973-17-589966

E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

 

About Bahrain Economic Development Board

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate.

The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com; for information about Bahrain visit www.bahrain.com.

Saaya Health: Covid sputs growth as several Global Brands sign deals

21st May, 2020

Saaya Health Tech, a Bahraini based Digital EAP company providing Mental Health Access to employees using its PaaS model has seen a boom in its usage post-Covid19.

In the months since February alone, they have signed deals with the billion-dollar Bayer Pharma of Germany and also the Chemical behemoth Engro Corp of Pakistan. There are reports of another deal with a UK Multi-national in the pipeline.

In addition to their Insurance partnerships across the region, Saaya Health now has access to more than 700,000 clients to avail their Digital Mental Health services.

Emotional & Mental Health has become one of the lead focus, with the WHO citing that “the next pandemic will be Emotional & Mental Health as a result of the shocks of Covid-19” Founded in Bahrain in May 2018, Saaya Health’s Digital EAP services are beginning to take flight.

“For two years, we laid the foundations, building our global network of Multi-Lingual Therapists. Therapists who speak Local languages –  Arabic, French, Hindi, Urdu and over a dozen more languages – and now we are beginning to reap the rewards of being prepared” said Saaya Health Founder Sarmad Ahmad, continuing,

“We all have emotions – and our emotions dictate our actions – but we are just now beginning to realise this on a very personal level”

Corporates that invest in Employee Mental health have greater retention & productivity. A Deloitte 2018 report states that for every $1 invested in Mental Health services, $4 are saved by companies.

Saaya Health is poised for regional growth and is looking to aim a Direct-to-Consumer channel as well – aimed at affordable, culturally relevant mental health.

For more information on how your company can benefit:

contact@saayahealth.com 

www.saayahealth.com

 

GCC set for fintech surge, reveals Mastercard study

The GCC is set for a surge in the use of fintech apps during the current global health crisis as new figures from Mastercard reveal a 70 percent increase in the use of contactless payments in the MEA region.

Bahrain aiming to be startup capital of the world

CNME Editor Mark Forker spoke to David Parker, Co-Chief Investment Officer, Bahrain Economic Development Board, to find out how the Kingdom is leveraging cloud technology to position itself as a leading startup nation. Reposted from Tahawultech:

GCC set for fintech surge during global Covid-19 outbreak

The GCC is set to experience a surge in the use of FinTech platforms as consumers turn away from physical offerings during the ongoing global COVID-19 outbreak.

It comes after Bahrain’s national electronic wallet BenefitPay announced a 1257% increase in the number of remittances through its Fawri+ service during the month of March 2020 – worth some BHD103 million (USD273 million).

David Parker, Co-Chief Investment Officer at Bahrain Economic Development Board, said that online banking and cryptocurrencies are among the products with the biggest increase in transactions.

Mr Parker said: “At a time when few customers can access physical services, FinTech platforms across the GCC are experiencing a surge in use – something we anticipate continuing well into the summer months.

“BenefitPay’s significant increase in transactions shows the region’s growing appetite for new technologies, and that being digital-first is no longer optional.

“The spread of COVID-19 has presented enormous challenges for banks, but it also highlights the need for rapid technological transformation and a new wave of innovation through collaboration with the thriving FinTech sector.”

The GCC trend is echoed around the world, with a study by financial advisory firm deVere Group revealing that the use of FinTech apps in Europe surged by 72% in just one week at the beginning of the crisis.

At the same time, ATM network Link revealed that the use of physical cash in the UK dropped by 50% immediately after the government’s announcement of restrictions on movement.

According to industry experts, the FinTech market in MENA is set to reach a record high of USD2.5 billion by 2022, with GCC countries playing a major role in the growth of the sector.

Bahrain is home to the oldest and most established financial centre in the Gulf region. The Kingdom currently hosts more than 300 financial institutions, with Bahrainis continuing to play a large role in the financial sector.

Among the most successful FinTech ventures in Bahrain are Sharia-compliant cryptocurrency platform Rain, open banking API provider Tarabut Gateway, NEC Payments and BENEFIT – the parent company of BenefitPay.

The Kingdom offers a strong local test market backed by government initiatives including a regulatory sandbox which allows FinTech firms to experiment with new ideas and solutions.

Abdulwahed AlJanahi, Chief Executive of BENEFIT, added: “The remarkable growth of usage of electronic financial payments reflects on the awareness and commitment of our community to take the precautionary measures, reducing paper usage to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

“We have also witnessed a large number of businesses and home businesses that began providing their customers with the option to pay via BenefitPay, ensuring the success of our national team to limit the spread of this pandemic.”

Bahrain and Portugal enter proactive initiative to support startups globally during COVID-19

Manama, Bahrain and Faro, Portugal. 4 May 2020: The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) – the Kingdom’s investment promotion agency – has entered into a proactive initiative with GrowIN Portugal, a platform that helps entrepreneurs incorporate, fund, expand and move their startups to Portugal. The agreement will serve to promote cooperation between the two organisations, particularly with regard to supporting startups globally during the ongoing pandemic by connecting the two startups ecosystems.

To this end, both parties have agreed to:

  • Collaborate on the promotion of key events and opportunities in their respective markets;
  • Promote opportunities for developing the startup markets in their respective countries;
  • Support startups by arranging introductory meetings with key ecosystem stakeholders in both countries;
  • Exchange information on the evolution of their respective startup markets

Commenting on the initiative, Pakiza Abdulrahman, Head of Startups, Bahrain EDB, said: “This timely initiative will provide some much-needed support for not just Bahraini and Portuguese startups, but startups from around the world. The ongoing crisis has hit almost all economic sectors, including the startup industry, and across the globe, we’re seeing an unprecedented slowdown. By connecting and thereby bolstering our two ecosystems, Startup Bahrain and GrowIN Portugal are providing a lifeline for innovative startups seeking a supportive environment in which they are able to empower the digital economy in their respective countries

Anas El Arras, Chief Executive Officer, GrowIN Portugal, added: “Startups need support now more than ever before, so we are delighted to be collaborating with Bahrain EDB to do just that. Bahrain and Portugal each offer supportive ecosystems complete with funding support, highly-skilled labour forces, cutting edge digital infrastructure and world-class accelerators. Moreover, we each sit on the doorstep of major markets: Europe and MENA respectively. By combining forces, combining ecosystems, we can provide a global space to accelerate startups from around the world, and ensure innovation is not hampered by the global crisis.”

Today, both countries trade in a number of items with a focus on aluminium, paper and cotton products. As of 2019 the non-oil trade between the two countries accounts for nearly US $22 million increasing from US $6.7m in 2009.

The signing of the agreement follows on from a Bahrain EDB delegation to Lisbon in October 2019, where it announced a fast-track setup process for startups globally looking to take advantage of the business environment and a well-connected startup community through the Startup Bahrain initiative.  With its flexible regulatory environment; the availability of multiple accelerators, access to funding opportunities, openness to 100% foreign ownership, world-class physical and digital infrastructure; and some of the lowest set-up and operating costs in the region, hyper-connected Bahrain is increasingly the destination of choice for companies from all over the world seeking to access the growing USD1.5 trillion Gulf markets. The island Kingdom is keen to attract more Portuguese companies and startups.

–Ends–

For more information, please contact:

Communications and Media Department

Economic Development Board

Phone: +973 397 989 19

E-mail: internationalmedia@bahrainedb.com

 

About Bahrain Economic Development Board

The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate.

The EDB works with the government and both current and prospective investors, in order to ensure that Bahrain’s investment climate is attractive, to communicate the key strengths, and to identify where opportunities exist for further economic growth through investment.

The EDB focuses on several economic sectors that capitalise on Bahrain’s competitive advantages and provide significant investment opportunities. These sectors include financial services, manufacturing, ICT, tourism, logistics and transport.

For more information on the Bahrain EDB visit www.bahrainedb.com; for information about Bahrain visit www.bahrain.com.

 

About GrowIN Portugal

GrowIN Portugal is an accredited Incubator, Accelerator, and Company as a Service Platform that helps Entrepreneurs Incorporate, Fund, Expand and Move their Startups to Portugal.

For more information visit https://www.growinportugal.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/growinportugal

GrowIN Portugal media team can be reached on media@growinportugal.com

Startups supporting Bahrain’s self-isolation

 

‘Women are nearly a third of investors on Bahrain Bourse’

By Avinash Saxena on Gulf Daily News

09 March 2020

MANAMA: Women make up 29 per cent of total investors at Bahrain Bourse (BHB), and the value of shares held by them is currently BD580 million, Bahrain Bourse (BHB) chief operating officer Narjes Jamal has said.

In a statement issued yesterday after BHB hosted a bell-ringing ceremony to mark the celebration of International Women’s Day, the official said the total volume of shares held by female investors is 711m.

“As industry setters, we are hosting a variety of ring-the-bell events in order for all stakeholders to take action in achieving the goals of gender equality.”

According to Ms Jamal, across companies listed on Bahrain Bourse, women currently have 2pc board representation and 7pc hold CEO positions compared to 16.9pc and 4.4pc respectively on a global level.

“As a stock exchange, we are working alongside listed companies and industry professionals to take practical action in advancing gender equality through voluntary guidance documents, internal policies, training, mentoring, raising awareness, and educating market participants on gender equality and the role of gender diversity in enhancing business performance.”

“We aim to reinforce the importance of the role of females in executive and board positions across the capital markets, going in line with our efforts in promoting sustainability, in which ‘gender equality’ falls under the ‘social’ angle of sustainabilty,” she added.

Ms Jamal was joined by Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) Governor Rasheed Al Maraj and BHB chief executive Shaikh Khalifa bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa in ringing the market-opening bell.

BHB is partnering 81 other global exchanges for a week of bell-ringing activities for the second consecutive year, in partnership with the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, the World Federation of Exchanges, IFC, UN Global Compact, UN Women to help raise awareness and highlight opportunities for the capital market ecosystem to advance gender equality and sustainable development.

The event was held for the sixth consecutive year globally. This year, the UN’s International Women Day was themed ‘I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights’.

Held throughout March, these bell-ringing events aim to raise awareness on women’s economic empowerment and the opportunities for the private sector to advance gender equality and sustainable development.

As part of the events, participants are encouraged to make commitments to improve gender equality in their markets, improving diversity in senior management and on the boards of directors, or improving transparency on gender policies and practices.

Last year, Bahrain Bourse announced its voluntary commitment towards the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative in promoting sustainable and transparent capital markets.

The SSE initiative focuses on sustainable disclosure of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.

avinash@gdn.com.bh

Why Bahrain can become a major hub for finance and technology

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