This week, BTW speaks to Dr Hashim Hussein, Head of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Investment & Technology Promotion Office (ITPO) Bahrain—to understand the great developmental work that the organization has been carrying out under his able leadership towards investment promotion and sustainable economic development through entrepreneurship and innovation.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Born in Sudan to a big family of nine members, I was an active Scout team member right from my childhood. From very early in my life, I loved to help others, worked constructively as a team member, and was involved in voluntary services. My being a Scout boy really helped me to be a part of a team that did significant social service work, like helping the old and the disabled, provide relief and rescue services to people of flood affected areas, repair houses and be a part of social development through various such channels.
Two important factors that helped me become the person that I am today: extensive travelling (I had travelled widely both inside Sudan and also outside to most of the Arab countries, and various regions of the world including Latin America, Asia Pacific, North America, Europe, and Africa) and a very supportive family who supported me to do what I wanted to do.
What has been your educational and professional background?
I had completed O level from the University of London. However, I have always been interested to take up subjects related to international relations, development and the likes. At that time, the medium of education in most private institutions in Sudan was English. So I travelled to Morocco at the age of 16 years to study International Relations and Development in Arabic. Then I completed my B.A. degree from the University of Hassan II at Casablanca (Morocco).Further to this, I went ahead to complete a PhD in International Law from the University of Nantes, France and at the same time, a doctoral research in International Development and Conflict Management from the University of Maryland in the US. So before I was 26 years of age, I had two doctoral degrees in the subjects of my interest.
When did you join UNIDO Bahrain and for how long have you been working with the organization?
Working for the UN and helping developing countries economically was my long-cherished desire. Well, probably when you want something fervently, it is indeed true that Nature conspires to direct all forces towards achieving that dream. Perhaps that is why there happened to be a campus recruitment programme for the post of Junior Officers by UNIDO at the University of Maryland in 1991, the last year of my Doctoral course.
After appearing for the interview, I had gone back to Sudan for some volunteer work. But a month later, I got an offer letter from UNIDO to go to Vienna and join the organization in the Junior Professional Officer category as the Industrial Coordinator for the Gulf Region. The posting was
What major projects has UNIDO Bahrain taken on/accomplished under your leadership?
To start with, having spent a few years researching and studying what is best to bring about a holistic development in the region, we eventually founded the UNIDO Investment & Technology Promotion Office (ITPO). I headed the office. This was the only such UNIDO-ITPO office in a developing country like Bahrain while the rest of such UN offices existed then in industrialised countries like Japan, France, South Korea, Italy, China, Russia, etc.
Besides this, other significant programmes have been the mobilisation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) both in cash and in terms of technical knowhow to Gulf as well as from Gulf to other developing countries.
Tell us briefly about EDIP. How effective and successful has it been in Bahrain?
The Enterprise Development & Investment Promotion Program (EDIP) is a package approach aimed at developing the capacities of potential entrepreneurs in order to boost their capabilities and assist them in developing their own private businesses. The process is based on an approach that deals with building entrepreneurial capabilities in addition to enterprise planning, implementation and management. The EDIP is multifaceted in the sense that it need not only assist in developing start-up entrepreneurs (Enterprise Creation Program) but rather represents a major mechanism for upgrading and expanding existing enterprises (Enterprise Growth Program).
The EDIP consists for five steps:
1. Preparation & Empowerment that includes planning, marketing, finance, legal, etc.
2. Business Counseling & Technology Tie-up leading to full-fledged joint
3. Financial linkages.
4. Incubation (In-Wall and Virtual)
5. Post Incubation and Growth programmes.
The EDIP as customized for the needs of Bahrainis often referred to as the ‘Bahrain Model’ has helped several self-starters to turn into millionaires not only in Bahrain but in 48 other countries worldwide, like Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan, UAE, Uruguay, to name a few.
What are the goals of UNIDO Bahrain for the future?
Of course, more and more empowerment of entrepreneurs, SME development, and so on. You see, UNIDO is happy to see how the entrepreneurial culture that we tried bring to the country has flourished and grown over the years making Bahrain a true model of entrepreneurship for other countries from the UN perspective. So to award Bahrain for such active participation in entrepreneurship, we, under the auspices of the UN, brought to Bahrain the First International Entrepreneurs Investment Forum (IEIF) on ‘Entrepreneurship and Investment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development’ (Global Investment Forum) from the 19th to the 21st of January, that witnessed the congress of 800 entrepreneurs from 80 countries. They developed the Manama Declaration for Entrepreneurship for Development. It has been adopted by the 69th session of the General Assembly of the UN.
On the 50th anniversary of the UN to be celebrated in Vienna (November 21st-25th, 2016), a global portal for entrepreneurs is about to be launched. This will be a virtual platform to support entrepreneurs as well as support institutions (financial/non-financial).
What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs of Bahrain?
You are fortunate because in the economic restructuring plan or vision of His Majesty the King is to invest in the Bahraini nationals and the economic apparatus of the country to be handed over to the youth. Accordingly the support institutions (which we believe is the best in the Arab region) provide very objective support. So yes, you can do it. Come with a creative idea of entrepreneurship and you can make it and be successful like other entrepreneurs in Bahrain and others
in the world who have used the