Growth and development come from consistent work, mixed with the trait of taking the time to hear constructive criticism to push the process forward. That’s exactly what Bahrain’s Labor Fund ‘Tamkeen’ is known to do.
Every year, Tamkeen hosts an annual Consultation Forum that unites its customers, partners, and stakeholders under one roof while providing them with a platform to take part in and share their feedback on Tamkeen’s programs; as well as communicate their business needs.
As always, we aim to bring you the details of the details — so we reached out to Tamkeen’s Corporate Planning Manager, Ali Mustafa, to answer some of our questions on Tamkeen’s 2020 Consultation Forum.
Key Takeaways from the Consultation Forum.
To maintain safety during 2020’s ongoing pandemic, and to also ensure the continuity of the annual forum, Tamkeen held it virtually through Zoom. In case you missed attending it, here are the key takeaways, as shared by Ali Mustafa:
- The forum highlighted Tamkeen’s achievements in 2020, focusing on the businesses and individuals supported throughout the years, especially during the current situation.
“As 2020 has been an extraordinary year most of the issues facing businesses were related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruptions it caused the markets. These ranged from operational concerns, supply chain issues, unpredictable demand and impacts on business finances.”
- Customers highlighted their concerns about the ever-changing market reality.
“As global markets shift to embrace digitization customers were interested in how they can be better prepared for this change and expressed the need for business development support, more specialized training and talent development in this area.
Ever since its establishment, Tamkeen has witnessed a significant growth in supporting the private sector by supporting their operational costs and infrastructure and increase their growth opportunities via trainings and other initiatives that aim to boost the entrepreneurship sector in Bahrain.
Since 2006 until today, Tamkeen has injected up to around BHD 830 million to develop the private sector, which included training and supporting enterprises and strategic partnerships.
Throughout these years, Tamkeen also injected around BHD 200 million as part of the Compensation and Unemployment Support. Furthermore, up to date, Tamkeen has supported more than 200,000 individuals and more than 53,000 enterprises.”, shared Ali.
Commonly shared issues in the Forum.
Naturally, some issues aren’t unique cases and a large portion of customers face and flag them. In 2020’s Forum, those issues are the following:
- The need for more flexibility and variability in the support. Of course, there’s so much to include under the word ‘support’ provided by Tamkeen. Said support’s elements have been quite the success among customers – the likes of contract durations, and the type of support. To increase the success, a shift from the generalized support to customized for each particular segment and their needs was well-received.
Customers expressed the need for more training and support that will enable businesses to operate in a more digital environment. No doubt, the shift to the digital world has become a need that all businesses must meet. It was recognized that Tamkeen’s strategy, too, must provide further support for those businesses. This can come in terms of support to adopt the right tools, further empowering technology-focused startups, not to miss on mentioning training in technological-topics such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and FinTech, and also supporting enterprises in embedding technological solutions into their operations.
- Startups were also a key discussion topic in this year’s forum. We love the high-significance that’s been paid for startups during the Forum. The first and most important thing, perhaps, is Tamkeen’s seeking of a better definition to distinguish startups in their various stages. Why is that important? Because for every stage, a different type of support is needed. Stakeholders also agreed on the urge for more specialized support, and also shared the importance of early intervention efforts in building an entrepreneurial mindset.
Tamkeen’s strategy and COVID-19.
If you’re up-to-date with Tamkeen, you’ll know that they function in accordance with a specific strategy cycle. Here’s a glimpse on the timeline as published on Tamkeen’s website:
- Current Cycle: 2018 – 2020 Strategy: Enhancing the Productivity and Sustainable Growth of Bahraini Individuals and Businesses.
- Third Cycle: 2015 – 2017: Strategy: Focus on creating “Impact” in the market in terms of shifting towards a customer-centric approach, improving the quality of services, customizing the products & solutions and delivering results.
- Second Cycle: 2010-2014: Emphasis is mostly on expanding the outreach of the Organisation, reviving the economy and achieving more numbers.
- First Cycle: 2007-2009: Emphasis on launching Tamkeen, positioning the Organisation in the market and kick-starting projects.
As you can see, part of 2020’s strategy was intended to revolve around the pillar of ‘sustainability’ and the execution of the final year of its current strategy.
We asked Ali about the impact of the pandemic on the strategy, to which he commented: “Due to the current circumstances and under the directives of Bahrain’s Government Executive Committee, Tamkeen’s support was focused on providing support for business continuity and to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the private sector as part of the government’s various support efforts.”
He further assured that Tamkeen’s strategy cycles were always built on the basis of previous strategies’ successes and efforts; further reassuring that this will continue to happen, and Tamkeen will continue supporting their customers in addressing key challenges and capturing market opportunities.
As for the pandemic, Ali commented that since it introduced new challenges, it also offered new areas for growth. “It also stressed the importance and urgency of enhancing productivity and growth as well as ensuring that sustainability remains a key priority in the development of the private sector.”