(MENAFN - The Peninsula) By Mohammad Shoeb / The Peninsula
DOHA: The Qatar Development Bank (QDB) has registered an over 400 times surge in the number of applications seeking financial support and other assistance after the imposition of the unjust blockade, said top official of the state-backed entity.
The QDB, in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030, has been entrusted for the promotion and establishment of a vibrant private sector through supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to achieve self-sufficiency and economic diversification to ensure sustainable development.
'Until 2018 we have seen the number of applicants has reached more than 400 times compared to the number of applications submitted before the siege, Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa (pictured), CEO of QDB told The Peninsula on the sidelines of an event.
Al Khalifa added: 'The blockade was a significant factor for the surge in the number of companies that are applying for support from QDB in terms of loans, market information, market access, and other elements of support that QDB provides.
The financing by QDB witnessed a remarkable growth last year. Project financing saw a sharp rise over the last few months, especially after the siege imposed against Qatar by Arab quartet in early June last year. Out of the total funding of QR2bn in 2017, nearly QR1.4bn was invested after the blockade to become self-reliant. The development agency is expecting a significant rise in project financing this year given the fact government has reinforced its commitment to achieve self-sufficiency and economic diversification, especially in terms of food production and other essential products and services.
The QDB has been working meticulously with great consistency to support local SMEs and national products. The number of SME-dedicated events and activities, especially after the blockade, has increased by manifold. Some of the series of QDB initiatives include organising and participating in local and international seminars, exhibitions, workshops, such as ‘Made in Qatar' exhibitions, ‘Made at Home' exhibition, Government Procurement & Contracting Conference and Exhibition (Al Moushtarayat) and others. In addition, it also played key role in organising and participating in other exhibitions, which include Omani Products exhibition and Expo Turkey by Qatar.
'In 2018 we are more focused on Al Moushtarayat conference, which is to be held from April 23-25. It is going to be a big procurement event offering a wave of new job opportunities worth billions of riyals for the government-private sector cooperation, added Al Khalifa.
'We are going to match the local demand with the local production. Several key government agencies are going to participate under the patronage of the Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani.
Local SMEs bagged business opportunities worth QR750m from the second edition of the Moushtarayat 2017, and the upcoming edition is expected to be more successful compared to the previous ones.
Commenting on the quality standards and price competitiveness of local products, Al Khalifa stressed that local products are of good quality and price competitive, but QDB is advising SMEs to utilize the latest and cutting-edge technologies to further improve cost efficiency and best quality standards to have edge over others.