Entrepreneurs and startup job seekers from across the globe are moving to Bahrain, rated for in top ten places globally for expats, to make the most of the developing economic and infrastructural framework the country has to offer.
The Middle East has been emerging as a prominent region for startups in recent years. The region gathered over $1 billion in venture capital funding in 2016 and Bahrain has been in the forefront as an important startup ecosystem in the region. The country was ranked among the top 50 countries in the Global Competitiveness Report 2017-18 and is proving to offer several competitive advantages to its benefactors.
Bahrain may be the smallest country in the Gulf region but has had an impressive GDP of $35.31 billion in 2017. The country’s location in the GCC and a free economy as compared to the other Gulf countries makes it a promising startup hub. The startup ecosystem in Bahrain sees an increase in the health and tech sector particularly in the niches of eCommerce, ICT, cybersecurity, and fintech. If you have a disruptive startup idea that is based in any of these segments, moving to Bahrain can help you find a secure footing for your business.
One of the first countries to recognize the potential of the oil industry in the region, Bahrain is now witnessing the growth of non-oil sectors as well. Startups share a significant chunk in the revenue brought in by these non-oil industries.
Why Should Startups Move to Bahrain?
Bahrain’s strategic position makes it easier for startups in the country to access the different tools and markets to help their businesses grow. The country is witnessing an increase in the number of startups at a CAGR of 46.2% and is implementing policies and programs to help them scale the markets. The SMEs in Bahrain are active contributors to the economy and have been responsible for creating a sustainable job market as well which has encouraged many professionals to move to Bahrain.
Enjoy an Array of Pro-Startup Policies and Initiatives in Bahrain
The government of Bahrain has adopted several initiatives and policies to create a favorable environment in the country for entrepreneurship to grow. The Economic Board of Development Bahrain together with Tamkeen has been hosting the Startup Bahrain Week, a launch pad for startups. Aimed at bringing together the various ecosystem partners, (entrepreneurs, investors, accelerators, educational institutes, incubators, and the government) the event helps these players interact and find the right resources to help each other grow. Entrepreneurs moving to Bahrain can take part in such events to network and be one of the early players of the startup ecosystem.
Bahrain also offers competitive tax rates. Startups in Bahrain can enjoy a Value Added Tax of just 5% and zero corporate tax irrespective of the nationality of the founders.
Some of the sectors also offer 100% ownership to business owner regardless of where they belong to in the world.
Startups in Bahrain get a Better Access to the Gulf Market
Situated in the heart of the GCC, Bahrain acts as a gateway to the Gulf market. The 2017 Agility Emerging Markets Index ranked the country seventh for market connectedness. Bahrain also offers connectivity advantages as the country has an efficient transport system and is connected via road, air, and sea. Its proximity to Saudi Arabia and UAE helps startups find a base that is easily accessible by the neighboring regions.
The country’s location also makes it serve as an important area for businesses to test their products and services before marketing them in the rest of the MENA countries.
Move to Bahrain to Enjoy the Best of Startup Resources
Apart from a friendly and resourceful government, Bahrain also has all the other resources startups need for a smooth functioning – human resource capital, monetary funds, real estate, and guidance.
The costs of running a business in Bahrain are comparatively lower than that of its neighboring countries especially when it comes to rents for workspaces. The entry of co-working office space brands has helped the real estate sector grow and also has offered affordable office space options for entrepreneurs and startups in Bahrain. Brands like Space340, Brinc Batelco loThub, and Servcorp Bahrain Financial Harbour have changed how entrepreneurs work and network in Bahrain.
Owing to the increasing number of entrepreneurs choosing to move to Bahrain for setting up their base, the country has seen a rise in the number of incubator and accelerator organizations in the country. Startups in Bahrain now have access to a number of guidance and leadership programs that can help nudge them in the right direction. Bahrain’s active and growing investor community also is an encouraging factor that has been motivating startups to move to this country.
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Bahrain’s Soaring Tech Sector Fuels the Startup Ecosystem
Bahrain’s tech sector has seen unprecedented growth thanks to driving forces like Tamkeen. The region is globally renowned for adopting new technologies faster than any other area. The tech sector in Bahrain has been thriving owing to sub-sector strengths of gaming, cloud computing, and fintech.
Cloud Computing Startups in Bahrain
With a regional cloud computing market valued for over $650 million and the potential to bring an 83% of the MENA traffic to the local cloud computing network, the sub-sector’s growth is actively fuelled by the Bahrain government. The Cloud-First Policy introduced in 2017 aims to help the ICT sector by preferring IAAS & SAAS for government IT needs and is offering credit support for organizations that are going the cloud way. Cloud Queue Management System Skiplino, leading queue management systems, is one of the notable success stories of the cloud computing niche in Bahrain.
Gaming Startups in Bahrain
Middle East boasts of a $1 billion gaming sub-sector and has an active online gaming and mobile gaming scene growing at 13% and 18% respectively. VR is a fast-growing area within the sub-sector which attracts more than 15,000 participants for the various VR events held in the country annually. Not a much-publicized sector, the gaming niche surely holds more potential than any other tech sub-sector in Bahrain and is getting more noticed owing to the upcoming innovative gaming companies. Gaming entrepreneurs moving to Bahrain get access to a localized market consisting of over $400 million Arabic speaking consumers not just within the country but also across the Middle East and North Africa. Some of the biggest gaming conventions happening in Bahrain include COMICON, the IGN Convention, Animania Bahrain, and the Bahrain Gaming Experience.
Fintech Startups in Bahrain
The country has been the epicenter for Gulf’s Banking and Islamic Finance institutions for more than four decades. The sub-sector had a monopoly in this area before competitors like Kuwait and UAE entered the picture. A notable story of the fintech sub-sector is of PayTabs that raised venture capital funding of more than $20 million and is a disruptive mobile payments services company. Setting up of the Bahrain FinTechBay is one of the recent catalyzing moves that have helped this sub-sector grow and get noticed.
Ecosystem partners like Economic Development Board, Bahrain Development Bank along with Tamkeen, a Startup Genome member is driving the startup ecosystem in Bahrain to the succeed and flourish.
Entrepreneurs looking forward to work in a startup ecosystem that is still young and continually evolving should definitely consider moving to Bahrain. The country’s rich startup resources combined with the unmatched government support spells success for startups with innovative ideas especially in the tech sector. Bahrain is a promising startup hub in the MENA region with a lot of untapped potentials waiting to be explored by entrepreneurs and investors moving to the country.
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