November 2, 2016

Rowad Program

Description of the core change(s) brought by this policy instrument

The Rowad Model was built over the years through research and observation on the basic tools and necessities required by an entrepreneur to startup, grow, expand, and turnaround a business or idea.  The model is an enhancement to The Bahrain Arab Model for Entrepreneurship that has been recognized by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as the best model for entrepreneurship which includes Training, Advisory, and Incubation.  The Rowad Model has grown from the Bahrain Model to incorporate elements that are necessary for entrepreneurs to flourish and resides on main pillars that we have concluded are required by an entrepreneur at any stage of the business cycle; ultimately contributing to their success.  The pillars include; Coaching, Training, Incubation, Funding, Mentoring, and Partners.


The Rowad Model was built over the years through research and observation on the basic tools and necessities required by an entrepreneur to startup, grow, expand, and turnaround a business or idea.  The model is an enhancement to The Bahrain Arab Model for Entrepreneurship that has been recognized by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as the best model for entrepreneurship which includes Training, Advisory, and Incubation.  The Rowad Model has grown from the Bahrain Model to incorporate elements that are necessary for entrepreneurs to flourish and resides on main pillars that we have concluded are required by an entrepreneur at any stage of the business cycle; ultimately contributing to their success.  The pillars include; Coaching, Training, Incubation, Funding, Mentoring, and Partners.


1. Coaching

This service focuses on enabling and empowering entrepreneurs. The Rowad Coaching program aims at developing individuals to drive successful businesses. This program tracks the entrepreneur’s personal development along with the business progress in a structured approach, guiding them to learn all the required skills to successfully run and grow their business, and support them in developing their businesses, overcoming challenges, and helping them achieve any goals they have as entrepreneurs. Coaching is offered at any stage of the business cycle and here are some of the areas that coaching is offered: Startup Coaching, Business Plan Coaching, Personal Development Coaching, Business or Growth Strategy Coaching , Export Coaching.


2. Training

Rowad Training is a variety of capacity building programs that are designed to help entrepreneurs develop and enhance their soft and business skills in order to be able to start-up or scale their business and be able to attract funding whenever required. These programs are available for start-ups and growing enterprises and those at other stages of the business cycle

The aim of training  is to assist entrepreneurs in testing their business ideas, developing a business plan, to serve as a road map for start-ups and growth enterprises , help attract investment, explore market  opportunities, limit error and risk during the start-up stages of a business, present practical examples of entrepreneurial success and their business strategies, the importance of growth strategy for every startup, help companies scale and grow their business, and Introduce them to the entrepreneurship ecosystem and its support programs.

Some of our training programs include the following:

Entrepreneurship Orientation Program - Basic overview on what entrepreneurship is, how to start-up, and an understanding of the eco-system in Bahrain.

Takween – High school Entrepreneurship Program in partnership with the Ministry of Education

Technopreneur Bahrain – Technology accelerator program in partnership with the IGA Bahrain

Specialized Workshops- Various workshops offered throughout the year with specific focus on topics to benefit entrepreneurs such as ; The Art of Pitching, Franchise and Scale, Financial Management, among others.


3. Incubation

Rowad Incubation focuses on assisting entrepreneurs to find a home to start their business in a nurturing environment to assist them to succeed during initial years of business.  Rowad Incubation assists entrepreneurs in finding the right space with the Rowad Centers managed and operated by the BDB and also other shared workspaces and incubators within the network.

Rowad Centers are dedicated to supporting the successful development of pioneering entrepreneurial enterprises with a vision of providing an ideal environment to accelerate the growth of business enterprises.  As a tenant of the Rowad centers entrepreneurs can benefit from subsidized rental fees, advisory services, training, coaching, access to finance, business linkages, marketing support, and other shared facilities

Rowad is a subsidiary owned by the bank which hosts all the various incubator centers owned and operated by the bank itself through the Development Services division.


4. Funding

Rowad Funding supports the growth and development of innovative projects through equity & debt financing clubbed with advisory support services. The program supports projects that yield substantial economic, social & environmental benefits; giving priority to projects that have a strong impact on the economy such as high productivity, job creation, export capabilities, among others.

Debt Financing Options: provided through BDB Banking Division which include: Loans, LG, Trade Finance

Equity Funding Options:  provided through the following:  Pre- Seed Grant (BHD 5,000 given by BDB in partnership with Tamkeen), Seed Fuel (BHD 25,000 investment at seed stage by Development Services at BDB) , Equity Investment (BDB Investment Division), and through other network startup funds and venture capital entities.

Seed Fuel- Through our experience with entrepreneurs and the funding environment we have noted that most entrepreneurs and innovators do not have access to funding at the Seed stage of the business cycle and that a funding gap in the market exists.

The aim of Seed Fuel is to provide entrepreneurs with access to funding at seed stage offering a solution to allow innovative entrepreneurs to move from pre-seed to seed stage and ultimately startup!

The funding program is called Seed Fuel, after its stage and to provide the notion that BDB will fuel its entrepreneurs with its equity solutions.


5. Mentoring

The Rowad Mentoring Program is a network built to help all types of entrepreneurs at any stage of the business cycle. Our network consists of individuals from different backgrounds which include entrepreneurs, industry specialists, academics, certified mentors, and organizations to support entrepreneurs and assist them to start-up, grow, or even enhance their distressed enterprise.

Rowad Mentoring Program is a global program that also provides virtual mentorship for those who are challenged by physical distance.

Mentoring is an important tool for entrepreneurs to avail of at all stages of the business cycle and the Rowad Mentoring Network provides them with access not only to their very own network but also to other mentor networks regionally and globally.


6. Partners

Rowad Partners are supporters of the entrepreneurial community and entrepreneurs themselves. Having been a startup at some point are keen on helping their fellow entrepreneurs at any stage of the business cycle. Each partner provides members of the Rowad Program with expertise in their field with unique support and preferential rates that are exclusive to the Rowad Program members.  Some of the current partners include:  Business registration support, Legal consultancy services, Marketing support, Accounting consultancy and support, IT support, Marketing and Branding, among others.

The program is run by a team of skilled, knowledgeable, and certified coaches and mentors.  The program works closely in line with the Bahrain Economic Vision 2030 to encourage the private sector to become the main driver of the economy through supporting entrepreneurship and various industries.

The program annually targets annually the focus industries that are highlighted by The Bahrain Economic Development Board, but nevertheless the program is offered to any individual or project that is setting up in Bahrain. 

Please list the implementing agencies

Designed, approved, and implemented by the Development Services Division at the Bahrain Development Bank.

Lifecycle of target firms for this policy instrument
Startup firms
If you marked "start-up" and/or "scale-up" firms, please provide the specific definitions used

Startup firms- early & seed stage startups requiring support in coaching, training, incubation, funding, mentoring and access to a vast entrepreneurial network.

Scale-ups- those who have attracted early and startup stage of funding and are going into Series B or C of funding who require growth strategy abnd guidance

Support offered
Non-financial Support
Level of intervention
Barrier(s) addressed with this policy tool
Access to Capital
Ecosystem Engagement/Coordination
Policy timeline

Approved and launched by the management and board of the Bahrain Development Bank in 2015. The program does not have a fix term, but has an annual review to ensure that the impact is met and to introduce new enhancements wherever required to further support entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship eco-system in Bahrain.

Stated goal/metrics of the policy instrument

The program is measured through the Rowad Business Cycle model, by monitoring the growth of a business as they progress to various stages of the cycle.  The program also monitors monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, and annually the following metrics:

  1. Job creation (number of new jobs created within the enterprises supported through the program)
  2. Export promotion
  3. Import substitution
  4. Inward investment of foreign currency

This year in 2016 will mark the introduction of measuring the Social Return on Investment (SROI) that the various projects that are funded through the Rowad Funding program yield.

The program also is reviewed annually and follows a project cycle stage method with continuous monitoring to ensure that the program continues to meet its original objectives and goals. The project cycle method involves the following stages:

  1. Identification
  2. Preparation
  3. Appraisal
  4. Implementation
  5. Monitoring
  6. Evaluation

The overall national economic goal that the program aims to support is to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation, drive private sector growth, and create a knowledge based society through innovation and technology.

Evidence of results

At the end of 2015, after the first year of launch the program reached out to over 500 new beneficiaries for coaching with a total service extending in coaching reaching 738.

Overall the program through all of its pillars (training, coaching, funding, incubation, mentoring) in 2015 reached out to 3,200 individuals.

The progress so far in 2016 predicts that these impact numbers will be exceeded at the end of the year.

Challenges, criticisms and lessons

The challenge is monitoring and gaging performance.  The organization needs to invest and develop sophisticated systems to be able to effectively monitor the growth and impact of the program. 

All of the statistics and numbers are being monitored and documented through basic programs such as Microsoft Excel.

The challenge is that this is a newly designed program and any software program will need to be designed from scratch to meet the requirements and to be able to effectively measure growth and impact.

Notes and additional context

Rowad Program is an entrepreneurship support platform that is based on the Rowad Model for Entrepreneurship which includes; Training (Entrepreneurship Education) , Coaching (Entrepreneurship advisory/guidance), Incubation (Entrepreneurship support), Funding (Entrepreneurship Financing), Mentoring (Entrepreneurship advisory/guidance), Partners (Entrepreneurship Support).

The program targets entrepreneurs, SMEs, and potential entrepreneurs at any stage of the business cycle.  The program training targets individuals as early as middle school through joint programs with the Ministry of Education through the public –school systems. The program also has a network of mentors and investors, which it also targets locally, regionally, and internationally across various industries to cater to entrepreneurs in any industry.


Background of policy, in the context of country’s situation, existing policy framework, etc.

The Rowad Program is a Bahraini initiative initiated and driven by the Development Services Division with the Bahrain Development Bank (BDB).  Bahrain Development Bank is an effective public policy instrument which assists in the creation and development of SMEs in Bahrain.  Over the years, the services provided by BDB have been fundamental in the development of the SME segment in Bahrain and are catalysts for the establishment of start-ups and in the growth of existing SMEs.

Bahrain Development Bank (BDB) supports entrepreneurship in Bahrain by providing both financial (loans, financing tools, and venture capital) and development (business advisory, coaching, training, incubation) products & services across the island.  The services assist individuals and companies across the business spectrum from pre start-up all the way to expansion utilizing unique and specialized programs and business models.

With the bank’s mission and mandate in mind the Rowad Program and Model was developed after careful research, observation, and practical experience to provide a comprehensive and holistic support platform for entrepreneurs and SMEs at any stage of the business cycle.  The program is dynamic and constantly adaptable to change, which is a core value in the model to ensure that it stays in line with the needs of the entrepreneur and/or SME, ultimately contributing to the national economic goal and in line with the Bahrain Vision 2030 to drive private sector growth by supporting and encouraging entrepreneurship and SME development.


The program has various stakeholders with the public environment through the Bahrain Labor Fund, Tamkeen, Bahrain Economic Development Board, and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. These stakeholders are involved in the awareness programs that are run through Rowad Training and are also involved in initial meetings with entrepreneurs to allow them to understand and have access to the entire entrepreneurship eco-system.

These stakeholders are also involved in the development of future plans whereby the Rowad Program and Model could be a basis for the creation of subsidiary focusing on helping entrepreneurs and SMEs by providing all the available products and services that are offered by the government through one application and process.

Currently, the close relationship with these stakeholders has enabled the facilitation of assisting entrepreneurs to better understand the different processes of obtaining support from other organizations.

Finally, the program also has affiliations with various partners and network organizations to encourage and assist entrepreneurs to grow beyond Bahrain to global markets.

The program is run by a core team of certified coaches and mentors that total 10 people alongside a supporting team for the incubator centers of another 10 individuals.

Geographic scope