Challenge the known and embrace the unknown, and don't let perfectionism delay you.

Shaping The Kingdom’s Future Businesses And Economy – Hesham bin Mohamed Al-Khalifa on BDB

What criteria do you look for in a company when they apply for a business loan?

Our business loans are open to any startup or growing business, and the main aim of our nance is to help support the establishment of new small and medium sized businesses along with the growth and expansion of existing ones. As the mandate of our organization is to help support the national economy through encouraging entrepreneurship, SME creation and growth, ultimately driving private sector growth. All our applicants need to provide us with a business plan or growth strategy, personal details, and depending on the project type, other supporting documents may be asked. It is important to understand that with development banking there are no ‘one size fits all’ criteria as each project is reviewed and assessed individually. We do however encourage innovative projects and those that contribute positively to the nation both economically and socially.

What is the maximum amount you can loan?

We do not typically have what we call a maximum, but overall, our nance loans range from a minimum of BHD 3,000 and go up to BHD 500,000.

Can you name some companies that you have helped and are now successful?

We have assisted many companies across the island, but as part of the BDB principles, we do not disclose our assistance to any of the entrepreneurs or SMEs unless they themselves mention our support.

What happens if the business can’t pay back the loan and fails? Do you auction off business assets?

Before we go to liquidating assets, businesses are assisted through our distressed assistance which is part of our ‘Rowad’ program. Entrepreneurs and business owners are supported through business plan re-evaluation, strategy analysis, and options are outlined to help rejuvenate businesses wherever possible. Should there be no solution, then there is a specialized team that outlines the best way to be able to recuperate as many assets as possible, ensuring the least amount of loss to the client. We are, after all, a development entity and we are very aware that most startups do fail within the first year of business.

Do you have to be a Bahraini business owner or are expats also allowed? And under what criteria?

Some finance schemes are reserved for Bahrainis only, while others are open to expats, but all businesses must be registered in Bahrain.

How can an existing business or a startup apply for a loan from you?

Startups can visit any of our branches or join the ‘Rowad’ program and apply for loans or any of our support services.

How much assistance does BDB extend to someone who is trying to get a loan from you?

BDB assists applicants and entrepreneurs from the idea stage extending support through training, incubation, coaching, business plan guidance, growth strategy support, soft skill development, and distressed support.

What makes a BDB loan different from other bank loans?

BDB loans are focused on developing SMEs that are at startup or growth stage. We use in-house models to identify the stage of business of the entrepreneur and provide a holistic platform of support. We are not here just to provide loans, we provide assistance in helping an entrepreneur grow and develop to ultimately contribute to our economy, working closely with the Economic Development Board.

Why is the BDB partnering with the awards? What objective does it achieve?

BDB is an effective public policy instrument which assists in the creation and development of SMEs in Bahrain. Over the years, the services provided by BDB have been fundamental in the development of the SME segment in Bahrain and are catalysts for the establishment of startups and in the growth of existing SMEs. The Bahrain Award for Entrepreneurship is no different, but it is actually a great time for us to be able to recognize the efforts of these entrepreneurs over the years, highlighting our main focus which is promoting entrepreneurship and fostering an entrepreneurial innovative and enterprising society.

What value do the winners add to the BDB?

These winners will only validate that BDB and its surrounding ecosystem is required to help nourish and grow more success stories for our Kingdom. Entrepreneurship is at the heart of BDB and it is about time that we recognize entrepreneurs nationally.


From the Business in Gulf FEBRUARY/MARCH 2015 Issue