Under the patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah the National Fund for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Development held its first forum on October 21st at the Sheraton Hotel in Kuwait City.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Yousef Al-Ali emphasized HH the Amir’s aspiration to develop SMEs in Kuwait and support Kuwaiti entrepreneurs.
National Fund Chairman Dr. Mohammad Al-Zuhair spoke about the importance of developing the country’s entrepreneurial culture and encouraging and supporting small and medium enterprises in Kuwait. He added that the Fund’s main objectives are to increase SME participation in the economy and help create a business-friendly environment for small and medium enterprises and Kuwait’s entrepreneurs.
His Excellency Lord Jonathan Marland, member of the Higher Advisory Board of the National Fund for SME Development explained the role of the board in providing recommendations and advice to advance the Fund’s performance.
The World Bank Group is working with the National Fund to support its vision in developing SMEs in Kuwait, pointed out Anabel Gonzalez, senior director of Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice at World Bank.
The first panel discussion was titled ‘The Role of SME in Building Kuwait’s Economy’ and was moderated by Dr. Mohammad Al-Zuhair which was followed by a short presentation.
HE Abdulla Al Darmaki, CEO of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development then spoke about the UAE experience as one of the pioneers in SME in the region. While HE Dato Hafsah Hashim, CEO of SME Corp. Malaysia spoke about the unique Asian experience.
Jehad Al-Qabandi and Meshari Al-Mahmoud, executive directors at the Fund spoke about the services the Fund will offer for entrepreneurs.
The second panel discussion was moderated by Mohammed Abdullah and focused on the National Fund’s organizational structure from a strategic perspective along with the Fund’s main responsibilities.
Kuwaiti entrepreneur Dr. Naif Al Mutawa participated in the forum in a session where he talked about the Kuwaiti market and the nature of SMEs in Kuwait.
One of the forum speakers was Fadi Ghandour, the co-founder and vice chairman of Aramex; chairman and managing partner of Wamda Capital who spoke about “Building entrepreneurship culture in a constrained business ecosystem.”
The Fund announced during the forum the launch of Nuwait platform, a web based storytelling platform launched by the Kuwait National Fund to highlight stories of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Kuwait. Nuwait joined the ‘Mix ‘n Mentor’ event in the second day of the forum. ‘Mix ‘n Mentor’ was a community building exercise that aimed to facilitate effective and meaningful connections between exceptional entrepreneurs and ecosystem agents such as SME experts to share knowledge and experience.