I’ll be involved in the Economic Competitiveness stream this afternoon as part of the National Dialogue, I would love to hear your thoughts on this: best way to do this is to
(1) Present your case,
(2) describe the problem, and
(3) offer a solution.
Please think globally in terms of the country rather than you as an individual or group.
The points I have marked to raise this afternoon is related to the difficulty in registering SMEs and some of the hurdles entrepreneurs face when attempting to do so.
I look forward to your thoughts.
Update 6 July, 2011: The mechanism of the Dialogue is emerging slightly clearer, though the end-result is still opaque. The format of the first session yesterday was allowing each participant – if they wished – to declare his vision and points offered and a time-limit of five minutes per person was imposed. Needless to say, a lot went beyond both limitations.
73 delegates packed the Economics stream to discuss the Economic Competitiveness of Bahrain going into the future; while some have stuck to the declared principle, others have chosen to digress and use the dialogue as a forum to air their grievances. A few – but not many – wanted to pour the ills that the country has been facing solely at the doorsteps of “those bad protestors” and demanded an even firmer application of the law/force – with all that entails.
Now that everyone had their say, the secretariat’s job is to categorise the points raised and summarise the proceedings in preparation for the next meeting in which individual recommendations will be discussed and a consensus might be formed. Points which are in contention will take longer to conclude, obviously, but those will be minor – judging by the atmosphere and the topics raised yesterday. I suspect that the Economic Competitiveness stream will conclude its sessions ahead of the more contentious ones.
Thanks to the discussion with Leena, I’ve submitted the following views to the panel in the hope that some of them will be considered for the final produced document:
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What do we need to be able to compete globally in the 21st century?
What we lack is innovation, innovation and more innovation.
Our innovation is negligible? Why?
I think it’s for a number of factors, including
- 1. Myopic thinking, and cultural resistance to change, both organizationally and individually
2. Very weak legal frameworks on Intellectual Property and Patents
3. A severe lack of research and development bodies and the conditions which stimulates them
4. Too slow in trying to catch up with various models of global innovation
5. Weakness in the education of innovation
6. The spirit of entrepreneurship is limited with small-scale “cupcake entrepreneurship” instead of thinking on a larger scale, take more risks and enter into the worlds of technology and cyberspace initiatives.
7. I think that part of the reason for the failure to engage in a broader and larger scope of initiatives, is some of the laws and regulations currently in force which stands as a hindrance which trips the entrepreneur:
An example of this is to oblige an entrepreneur to obtain a certificate or a degree of the study to start some projects; for example:
- a. To register a landscaping business, the Ministry of Commerce requires the entrepreneur to have graduated from high school; or
b. To create a web design business, the entrepreneur is required to have obtained a bachelor’s degree, even though that degree needn’t be within the same field or even comparable with the initiative under consideration. It’s worth noting that the creation of websites is within the capabilities of most primary school students.
What are the available solutions then?
- 1. Transform the collective cultural mind to celebrate, and encourage innovations and innovators, and create a culture of acceptance of failure and take cues from it as part of the journey to success;
2. Inaugurate a mechanism to measure innovation in organizations
3. The application of intellectual property laws and the establishment of the Office of Intellectual Property and Patents and task it to raise awareness and educate the public as well as organizations in regards to IP and patents and also facilitate an easier process to registre of patents
4. The allocation of budgets for research and development in academic institutions, government organizations and providing incentives for companies to do well
5. Planning and the inclusion of models to predict future trends, and learn from the mistakes of others – a successful example of this policy is India
6. The integration of innovation into curricula and extra-curricula activities
7. The creation of innovation through science and technology competitions, and giving grants for research and development, and create other programs to encourage innovation
8. Trade laws must be re-examined and remove obstacles to encourage entrepreneurship
9. Finally, the market should be left to its own devices and let ideas succeed on their own merit without governmental interference.