Info-tech

Bahrain aims to close $100-mn 'Fund-of-Funds' by year-end: EDB chief Rumaihi

Tunia Cherian | | Updated on: Jan 10, 2018

FDI till August was at a high of $329 mn

Bahrain will aim to close its proposed $100-million Fund-of-Funds by the end of this year, Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of its Economic Development Board (EDB) has said.

This fund-of-funds will invest in various venture capital funds, including those focused on fintechs, with investment teams based out of Bahrain, Rumaihi told a group of visiting presspersons in an interview here.

"We see the venture capital industry as critical to getting necessary funding for more businesses and start-ups," he said.

Rumaihi also said the Bahrain Government does not want to be the only source of capital for the proposed Fund-of-Funds.

"We want to put no more than a third of the capital. We also think a $100-million fund is sufficient for us to get the venture capital industry attractive. We already see indications of interest from several well-known regional venture capital funds that would add to the landscape here," he said.

STARTUPs

As on date, Bahrain has about 65 start-ups, according to Rumaihi, who described the startup ecosystem in this island country as a "small and nascent system". He expects this count to quickly double as Bahrain goes about developing the ecosystem.

"We do not want to become a hub for Bahrain startups alone, but for the regional startups," Rumaihi said.

EASE OF DOING BUSINESS

Bahrain, which the World Bank ranked 66th in its ease of doing business index, has embarked on several initiatives to help improve the ranking.

"We now have an online business registration system under which you can get your business registered in under two minutes. We have also recently reduced minimum capital requirements. There is also a plan to update our bankruptcy law to allow for a restructuring component, which is critical for companies with heavy debt," he said.

These elements are going to further improve Bahrain's ranking in the ease of doing business index, he added.

FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) up to August this calendar year has touched $329 million, higher than the $281 million the island country received in 2016.

Rumaihi said as much as 98 per cent of business activity in Bahrain is open to foreign ownership. EDB, which has a mandate to attracting FDI into Bahrain, has identified five focus areas for attracting investments. These are manufacturing, financial services, logistics, ICT and tourism.

Srivats.kr@thehindu.co.in

(This writer is in Bahrain at the invitation of Bahrain EDB).

Published on September 26, 2017
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