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From a young age, Sajeda Al-Asfoor had been undeniably passionate about developing potential and productivity as much as possible, and that passion led her straight to empowering Bahrain’s human capital as the Head of Global Experience at The Labour Fund (Tamkeen), a place she’s proud to call home. Talk about a real, inspiring achiever! 

Sajeda found her start through leadership and youth empowerment programs by participating with AIESEC, spending all her undergrad years developing her skills and knowledge. “Once I graduated, I knew I wanted to lead a life in civic engagement and influence positive change. Tamkeen felt like the ideal place to be at– it still is!” she said with palpable enthusiasm.

As we know, the growth and development of human capital plays a crucial role in the success of the Bahraini startup ecosystem. Investing in entrepreneurs and enhancing their knowledge, skills, and abilities will lead to the creation of a pool of skilled entrepreneurs who can take leaps to revolutionize the startup ecosystem. 

And given Sajeda’s astuteness, we had to ask what the most notable things about Bahrain’s lively ecosystem are, for startups both local and foreign, especially in a scene that is constantly evolving and changing, sometimes even overnight! Let’s be serious, who saw ChatGPT coming? 

“Global trends affect the global scene, that means entrepreneurs have to be on top of trends and adapt to the rapid pace of technological advancement and emergence of new business models.” Sajeda shared, underlining the importance that learning to ride one wave after another is essential for sustained entrepreneurship. “Aside from incubators, accelerators and programs that provide mentorship and funding, there is a variety of networking events, conferences and platforms that give founders the room to immerse and collaborate with each other.” In the words of a wise woman, trailblazers trailblaze together. 

Bahrain’s unique ecosystem is thriving thanks to the Kingdom’s relentless investment in the youth, a proactive approach that the government has taken to by fostering a strong community through a number of initiatives

Sajeda added: “We might be a small country but Bahrain’s connection to the largest markets in the region is unparalleled. The Kingdom hosts a spectrum of skilled human capital, as well as government support with friendly regulations.” Hey, don’t just take Sajeda’s word for it, you can read what some of the most prominent Bahraini founders have to say!

As you know, there’s no finish line in entrepreneurship. The business landscape is very dynamic, and founders have to keep up with global insights and strategies that help them stay ahead of their competition. “Accumulating new knowledge and skill is a very powerful tool, to immerse yourself in various economic realities and learn best practices and industry-standards. Seasoned entrepreneur or not, there is always room for growth and innovation.” Sajeda stated. “In order to do so, you have to let go of what you know and are comfortable with. Entrepreneurship is not supposed to be comfortable.” This gave us chills, and we hope it inspires you too!

Guess what? We finally get to talk about the thing we’ve been itching to tell you about: Tamkeen’s, Global-Ready Entrepreneur program! This initiative is catered to empower Bahraini entrepreneurs to unlock the full potential of their startups, by supporting participants to partake in international accelerator programs or any other entrepreneurial program abroad, or supporting entrepreneurs to expand into international markets.

The program offers support through two tracks: the Acceleration Track which covers business travel and accommodation costs based on the region as well as accelerator fees, incubators and entrepreneurship development platforms up to the approved and allocated cap amount, and the Global Expansion Services Track which supports the entrepreneur’s expansion to international markets by facilitating legal costs, working spaces, and HR requirements overseas.

“Today, entrepreneurs are encouraged to grow their businesses and access global markets with a wider range of customers and investors. The goal of this program is to expose Bahraini talent and increase their competitiveness, gain market knowledge to operate in foreign economies and develop skills for internationalization!” Sajeda said.

Sajed added: “Apart from acquiring new insights and experiences, entrepreneurs will be able to tap into potential investors, leads, buyers, or partners through this program.” How wonderful does that sound? Oh and it’s about to get better!  

Want to apply? Here are some of the eligibility criteria you need to know: 

  • Founder and/or Co-Founder of the business 
  • The startup has to be up and running for at least 1 year 
  • Enterprise size has to be VmSME 
  • Above 18 years old 
  • Sectors supported are Creative Industries, Tourism, ICT & Gaming, Manufacturing, Specialized Healthcare, Logistics & Renewable Energy. 

With this program, Sajeda hopes to empower talented entrepreneurs in Bahrain to take their great innovations to new heights. The benefits of supporting startups are wide-ranging from creating new jobs to driving economic growth, startups have also proved to be a critical source of capital for other businesses, as they scout and mentor then invest in new technologies which affects market behavior too. 

If you need more encouragement to apply to be a Global-Ready Entrepreneur, look no further! 

“Always seek to innovate and take the road less traveled by with your ideas,” Sajeda started, “Products change, people’s needs change, the business landscape changes, but what stays is the founder’s ideologies, agility and openness to learn in response to economic demands. This is why such programs are a true investment in the founders’ capabilities and potential. The business is a vehicle that might need to be steered at any point, but what sustains it is the ability of the founder behind the wheel!” 

Sajeda left us with quite a few words to think about, didn’t she? For more on the program, visit Tamkeen’s website and learn all about it!  As for us, do tell what you think about this article by getting in touch with us on our social media platforms through Instagram and LinkedIn. We’d love to hear from you!