Tamkeen announced that a total of 1,775 enterprises have benefited from its Enterprise Support Fund to date. The BD 10 million fund, launched in June 2011 as part of Tamkeen's mission to support and develop the private sector in accordance with Bahrain's 2030 vision, aims to help distressed companies continue their normal business activities. Tamkeen VP for Human Capital Development Dr. Ahmed Abdulghani Al-Shaikh said the large number of applications received by the Enterprise Support Fund from enterprise owners is a clear indication that there is a real need for this kind of support within the private sector. The fund has served as a much-needed lifeline for distressed enterprises, enabling them to cover their recurring expenses which have mounted as the repercussions of the current situation continue to affect businesses. The Enterprise Support Fund has so far contributed a total of BD 7.6 million in financial support for eligible enterprises that completed the application process and were evaluated and classified as distressed businesses. Dr. Al-Shaikh said the possibility of allocating more money to the Enterprise Support Fund is currently under evaluation. A decision is expected on this matter in the near future. "Tamkeen has always been committed to the highest levels of transparency in all its operational and financial processes,” said Dr. Al-Shaikh. “Every application received by the Enterprise Support Fund goes through three stages: Registration, Qualification, and Assessment, before final approval is granted. Each of these three stages has a set of clear criteria that must be met in order to move on to the next one. Therefore, it is important to understand that simply registering an enterprise in the programme does not necessarily mean it will be eligible for support, and eligibility does not necessarily mean it will be classified as a distressed enterprise." Dr. Al-Shaikh explained that at the Registration stage, business owners or their representatives attend an orientation session about the fund and requested to fill in the requested forms and provide supporting documentation. After required documents have been submitted, the applications move to the Qualification stage where they are reviewed to determine if the applicant enterprise is eligible for support or not. Any company with an invalid commercial registration or license, or is not based in Bahrain, or that has been open for business for less than one year, is excluded. During the Assessment stage, qualified enterprises are thoroughly evaluated to determine if they can be classified as distressed or not. Here, certain criteria are followed, such as a sustained drop in sales or revenues rendering the enterprise unable to pay recurring financial expenses and obligations, or the inability of the enterprise to repay its loans and debts. In this final stage, the amount of the grant is also determined based on the category under which the distressed business is classified, each of which has its own set of strict criteria. There are three categories in all: Category 1 (grant amount of BD 3,500), Category 2 (grant amount of BD 5,000), and Category 3 (grant amount of BD 10,000). Furthermore, Dr. Al-Shaikh noted that the Enterprise Support Fund staff also visit the premises of applicant enterprises to ensure that grants are given only to those companies which are truly distressed. All enterprises in Bahrain may benefit from the Enterprise Support Fund provided they meet the following eligibility conditions: • Valid commercial registration or business license • Based in the Kingdom of Bahrain • In operation for no less than one year Dr. Al-Shaikh stated that two conditions - that the annual revenues of the company must not exceed BD 100,000 and the number of its employees must not exceed 50 - have been dropped based on a general assessment of the market situation and to allow more enterprises to benefit from the fund. Applications can be received through one of the following channels: • Enterprise Support Fund office, located in the 5th floor of Meral Building in Seef • Enterprise Support Fund hotline: 17506066 Tamkeen has allocated about BD107 million for its projects in 2012. These include 20 new initiatives this year. More than 22,000 people are expected to benefit from Tamkeen's various support programmes this year alone.