Gulf Times | December 04 2019

Plans to launch the country’s specialised Fintech accelerator by the end of the first quarter of 2020 are on track, an official of Qatar Development Bank (QDB) said on Wednesday.

According to QDB executive director Investment Ibrahim Mohamed Hassan, the Fintech accelerator forms part of the development bank’s priority sectors that are aligned with the government’s interests, as well as the needs of the local and regional markets.

“Fintech is not just an effort of QDB but that of an ecosystem; we have many partners working closely with us, such as the Qatar Financial Centre, the Qatar Central Bank, QNB, QIB, QIIB, and insurance companies, among others.

“The plan to launch the Fintech accelerator by the end of Q1 2020 with our partners Medici and EY caters to both local startups and entrepreneurs from other markets that are looking for a starting point and a hub for their startup to grow regionally and internationally,” Hassan told Gulf Times on the sidelines of QDB’s ‘The Investment Forum 2019’ held in Doha on Wednesday.

During the forum, Hassan also announced that as of 2019 around $60mn (QR230mn) has been committed to more than 30 Qatari startups “at different stages.” The amount is part of the $100mn ‘Fund of Fund’ initiative launched previously by QDB.

“QDB is not only investing for commercial return but it also looks at the strategic return and the added value it brings to the Qatari ecosystem. What is interesting is that the VC (venture capital) funds that QDB has invested on are either opening offices in Qatar, in discussion with Qatari startups, writing term sheets, or are offering investments. Indirectly, we are also contributing to attracting foreign investments on Qatari startups,” Hassan pointed out.

Speaking about the event, QDB CEO Abdulaziz bin Nasser al-Khalifa said: “The Investment Forum 2019 comes to build on the successes we achieved from the first initiative. Such achievement and demand reflect the key role that QDB plays in attracting stakeholders interested in entrepreneurship investment to communicate and work on common grounds.

“QDB is committed to creating an interactive local investment environment through our strategic network of partners, one that would open up wide investment doors before local entrepreneurs to support them in creating and developing their innovative projects.”

‘The Investment Forum 2019’ was held under the theme ‘Connect, Invest, Grow’, symbolising the environment it creates for participants from different backgrounds and interests to establish and reinforce relationships amongst one another.

Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the strategic partner of the forum, said it is supportive of the important role that QDB plays in introducing opportunities to connect entrepreneurs with investors.

Qatar Science and Technology Park executive director Yosouf Abdulrahman Saleh said, “The forum is an important annual event that discusses entrepreneurship investment opportunities from Qatar and the world.

“It also had a positive impact in shedding light on special programmes and investment opportunities that QSTP offers to support technological entrepreneurship, and to contribute in enriching the local and regional economy.”

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