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If you’re a part of — or at least familiar with — Bahrain’s startup ecosystem, the name Mashroo3i surely needs no introduction. For those out of the loop, here’s a quick overview of what this prestigious competition stands for.

This youth business competition by Tamkeen is successfully conducting its sixth rendition in 2020-21 despite all the challenges thrown in by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as you can probably guess, due to the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown and travel restrictions, Mashroo3i 2020-21 had to make certain changes to its timeline and format. 

To know more about the competition last year, we recently got in touch with Khaled Alalawi, Flagship Project Manager at the Partnerships & Customer Engagement Department in Tamkeen. Here are a few snippets from the conversation:

A quick overview of the sixth edition of Mashroo3i so far.

As StartUp Bahrain reported earlier last March, 132 teams with promising business ideas were shortlisted for the sixth edition of Mashroo3i. We asked Khaled how Tamkeen has accommodated these teams with the best Mashroo3i has to offer despite the pandemic.

“This year’s edition has been different from the previous editions given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as such Mashroo3i is being held virtually with slight changes in the competition’s timeline,” he responded.

Khaled added that Tamkeen has been communicating and coordinating with the participants on a one-on-one basis to record their progress. A practical and efficient framework was put in order to make it easy for all participants to take part in the Orientation Training sessions, as well as the prestigious Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW 2020) that’s organized in collaboration with the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Bahrain.

In the current stage, the participating teams have entered the feasibility study phase stage wherein they will conduct a feasibility study with the guidance of their mentors

Impact of virtualization of the competition.

All participants and mentors seem to have taken the virtual edition of Mashroo3i positively, Khaled noted, adding that even the induction meeting held virtually was a grand success. All teams were familiarized with the different phases and processes in the competition. 

We gotta say, it’s impressive to see youngsters still eager to kickstart their own entrepreneurial journeys, especially that it’s happening despite being in the midst of a pandemic.

He noted, however, that although the competition has transitioned into a virtual one, the essence of Mashroo3i 6.0 remains the same — in the sense that Mashroo3i will continue serving as the platform where emerging entrepreneurs can learn to establish and set up their businesses, develop a strategy, and grow into a full-fledged operational enterprise

“The pandemic may have closed the doors for face to face business interactions but has enabled us to think outside the box, adapt to technology, and embrace innovation,” Khaled assuredly said.

He also pointed out that Tamkeen has left no stones unturned to provide all the necessary tools and know-how to participants so they can continue building upon their business ideas irrespective of the difficulties created by COVID-19.

Some of the noteworthy ideas and innovations teams are working on.

At StartUp Bahrain, we are always extra-curious about new innovations and ideas coming out of the Kingdom’s homegrown startups. So, it was not a surprise that we couldn’t help but ask for a sneak peek into some of the business ideas the participants are working on developing.

Khaled obliged and gave a quick overview without delving into the specifics:

“This year we are pleased to announce that the participating teams will focus on various sectors. We have teams developing their business to merge agriculture with technology, to develop environment and eco-friendly solutions, health and fitness, fashion and arts, tourism, and a lot more.”

He further added that Tamkeen was encouraging all teams to come up with innovative solutions that can make a profound impact on Bahrain’s economy while simultaneously being user- and environment-friendly.

Tamkeen’s COVID-19 support programs.

Apart from providing promising startups and entrepreneurs with a platform in Mashroo3i to promote and build on their business ideas during the pandemic, Tamkeen remains committed to helping out all small and medium enterprises to carry on with their regular operations undeterred by COVID. 

“During the pandemic, Tamkeen has not shied away from the responsibilities but have introduced the “Business Continuity Support Program” providing financial aid to small and micro enterprises affected by the pandemic,” Khaled remarked, promising that the labor fund will continue supporting similar programs to assist all homegrown businesses in these trying times.

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