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JustHere | November 15, 2017

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No fair game. Top 10 challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Qatar

No fair game. Top 10 challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Qatar

There are scores of new businesses bursting into the market, but getting there is fraught journey, and staying afloat an even tougher challenge.

JustHere spoke to a few Qatar-based entrepreneurs to understand the challenges of their pursuit. The general consensus is that, what could be done in few days, took weeks.
And with two-thirds of Qatar’s millenials preferring entrepreneurship to employment, there’s an urgent need to turn the country more entrepreneur-friendly.
Here are the top 10 hurdles:

1. No clear answers

“Nobody gives you a clear answer at the Ministry of Business and Trade. Even something as simple as an information desk is missing. You have to approach an officer who is already working with 10 people on his head. He’s so busy; he doesn’t want to answer you. Moreover, he doesn’t have the answers to all your questions, because he is not in charge of everything.”
Mohammed Al Mulla, Co-Founder of Empty Cup Café

2. A plump bank account. One of the requirements to register your company is to have a bank account with a minimum amount of QR200,000.

“Not everyone has it, and not every business needs it. They need to set a more reasonable margin.”
Reem Al Wohaibi, an aspiring entrepreneur.

3. No opportunity to grow organically

“If a business needs to manufacture something for a retail outlet, the manufacturing facility needs to be located in a specific zone in the Industrial Area. However, as a small startup with limited financial capital, you can’t jump to that stage.
“At the beginning of a business we test the market and demand, as it grows we can start investing in bottling machines for example, but we are not yet at that stage. We’re growing in a very organic way and the government does not realize a startup’s requirements; they only see the large businesses.”
Layla Al Dorani, Founder of RAW ME

4. You cannot obtain a trade license till you have obtained a location. And finding a good shop is difficult.

“Either it’s too expensive, gets no traffic, has no parking, is of poor quality or you’re worried it’ll be knocked down for another project.”
Khalifa Haroon, Co-founder of ILoveQatar

5. No technological awareness

“A business is always treated as something run out of shops or showrooms. There’s no recognition of online businesses. You don’t need to have an office for an online business, but that’s one of the requirements here.”
Reem Al Wohaibi

6. No financial support

“There is no organisation in Qatar that offers support without a personal guarantee. Qatar Development Bank has financial plans mainly for industrial products, or large-scale products.
“People that invest in start-ups have in mind that this could fail. A bank is not willing to take this risk. A bank wants to invest in something that it believes is going to succeed.”
Mohammed Al Mulla

7. Services for startups need to improve

 “You have organisations like Enterprise Qatar that offer good services, but not for our level of a startup. Their services are more like business studies, consultation, accounting services, etc. These don’t really help you with turning an idea into a live operating business.”
Mohammed Al Mulla

8. Be prepared to pay a lot of fees

“There’s one for registration, renewal, and miscellaneous services which easily cost a couple of thousand riyals. There has to be a clear understanding of the fees you need to pay beforehand, just to be prepared.
“Plus, there’s no parking at the Ministry of Business and Trade, it’s always full. You end up paying fines for wrong parking.”
Reem Al Wohaibi

9. Legal aspects need to be made clear

“The Ministry of Business and Trade need to provide a list of recommended lawyers that you can go to for any kind of legal aid. Entrepreneurs need to be explained about company stamps, intellectual property rights and other legal issues.”
Reem Al Wohaibi

10. Recruitment

“You cannot hire or fire them as easily as you would in other countries because of all the money invested in bringing them on board.”
Layla Al Dorani
“The staff needs to have health certificates too. This is possible only after they have their residence permits, which could take a week or six weeks. They are not allowed to work till they have one.  We had to pay salaries for a month while the employees were at home. To hire staff locally, employees would need a NOC to change employers.”
Adam Farhat, Co-Founder of Empty Cup Café

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