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Tamkeen: the cornerstone of Bahrain’s labour market reform initiative

Interview - April 19, 2017

Established in August 2006, Tamkeen is one of the cornerstones of Bahrain’s national reform initiatives and Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030. CEO Dr. Ebrahim Mohammed Janahi speaks on how Tamkeen is tasked with supporting Bahrain's private sector and positioning it as the key driver of economic development


How has Tamkeen fit into Bahrain Vision 2030, how has it contributed in fostering Bahrain private sector and its diversification?

Tamkeen is one of the cornerstones of Bahrain’s labour market reform initiative, with a vision to develop the national economy by supporting Bahraini citizens to become employees of choice and empowering the private sector, turning into a key driver of sustainable economic development.


Could you share with us some of the milestones achieved by Tamkeen?

Tamkeen’s achievements in the past 10 years


  • Tamkeen launched more than 200 initiatives in different fields, serving 140 individuals and 60 enterprises.
  • Tamkeen provided a variety of solutions including grants, finance solutions, and consultation services that aim to boost the productivity of individuals and enterprises.
  • The number of Tamkeen’s customers steadily increased over the past years, with an average growth rate of seven percent a year.
  • Tamkeen established six customer service centres, a call centre, and an interactive e-platform.
  • Tamkeen innovated customer support programmes and community engagement initiatives. It takes part in community activities and conducts many field trips in a bid to enhance communication and ensure that Tamkeen’s programmes reach all members of the Bahraini society.


  • Tamkeen supported more than 100,000 citizens, providing 140 individual empowerment initiatives.
  • Tamkeen contributed to training and capacity development programmes for around 13,000 Bahrainis in different areas of specialisation.
  • Tamkeen supported 31 percent of the Kingdom’s workforce through training and development initiatives.
  • Tamkeen provided 369 professional certifications in 40 areas of specialisation, pumping more than BHD 13.3 million as part of investments in the Professional Certifications Scheme.
  • Tamkeen created more than 8,000 jobs through its Employment Support programmes.
  • Tamkeen supported around 35,000 Bahraini youths through its various initiatives aimed at developing skills and capabilities of youth as well as creating opportunities to help them build their future.

Contribution of Tamkeen to the fostering of Bahrain’s private sector and its diversification

  • Tamkeen launched 60 initiatives to support more than 38,000 private sector enterprises.
  • Tamkeen's Training and Wage Support Scheme contributed to a nine-percent increase in wages of employees enrolled in the programme.
  • Portfolio of Tamkeen’s Enterprise Finance Scheme exceeded BHD 400 million.
  • Under Tamweel plus Scheme: Tamkeen launched a BHD 40 million finance portfolio in partnership with Al Baraka Islamic Bank and Ithmaar Bank. The programme focuses on financing projects worth more than BHD 1 million.
  • Tamkeen supported 38,000 enterprises to date; that is, 46 percent of the active registered companies in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
  • As part of Tamkeen’s Enterprise Finance Scheme solutions, businesses obtained BHD 15 for every BHD 1 spent by Tamkeen.
  • Six enterprises have so far benefited from Tamkeen’s investment support programme, creating for more than 200 jobs.
  • With Tamkeen’s help, 55 percent of business owners increased the number of their Bahraini employees.


Understanding the important role the private sector must continue to play in order to further diversify the economy and the economic development of the kingdom, what are your future plans and strategy to boost private sector activity in the Kingdom?

Current Strategy

  • Tamkeen continues to implement its 2015-2017 strategy, based on:
    • Focusing on quality, not quantity.
    • Concentrating on customers.
    • Achieving results.
  • Facilitate procedures for applying to programmes and benefiting from schemes (multiple communication channels, call centres, interactive e-platform, customer service centres.)
  • Provide tailored support for the special needs of each and every individual and enterprise through the existing programmes (enterprise support, financing, professional certifications, and other schemes).

Future vision and plan

  • Focus on improving and developing productivity.
  • Introduce innovative and enhanced customer service solutions.
  • Create systems in line with labour market needs.
  • Support enterprises throughout all their development stages.
  • Develop enterprise financing solutions, (Tamweel, Tamweel Plus Schemes)
  • Support individual students, job seekers, employees, and entrepreneurs.
  • Provide on-the-job training in Bahrain and abroad in line with the needs of individuals and enterprises.
  • Support business incubators.
  • Provide advisory and guidance services through a variety of programmes.
  • Provide personalised and customised guidance for individuals and enterprises.


Youth is a key pillar for the future development of any country; Bahrain is not an exemption and even more taking into account the shape of its demography. How is Tamkeen supporting youth and woman entrepreneurship?

Supporting youth and woman entrepreneurship

  • In Tamkeen, we believe that youth is a key pillar of our kingdom, and one of the most critical factor for the sustainability of Bahrain economic development. Since its launch, Tamkeen has always strived to support youth throughout their development by providing them with the necessary operational and practical knowledge that match with the private sector’s requirements and needs.
  • By promoting and encouraging entrepreneurial spirit, Tamkeen aims to motivate young Bahrainis to innovate and take part in diversifying the private sector while creating new job opportunities for other young Bahrainis and contribute to enhancing Bahrainis’ quality of life.
  • In the course of the past 10 years, Tamkeen focused its efforts to study the labor market’s employment needs. We help find the right candidates for the vacancies, enable them to acquire skills and proficiencies required for the job through a wide selection of essential and specialized training programs and certificates. In addition, we support the wages of Bahraini nationals to enable them and make them the employees of choice for any employer in the private sector.
  • The economic empowerment of women is high on Tamkeen’s agenda. Promoting sustainable empowerment through offering programs that has created opportunities for Bahraini women enterprises and entrepreneurs to develop their skills, expand their reach and resources, and scale their businesses into regional and global marketplaces based on equal opportunities. Tamkeen has an ongoing collaboration with the Supreme Council for Women to create, support, and implement programs specifically tailored for women.
  • One of Tamkeen’s programs specifically tailored for women, is the $100 million portfolio launched earlier this year in partnership with the Supreme Council of Women (SCW) and Bahrain Development Bank (BDB), Bahrain’s leading Development Financial Institution which aims to develop women entrepreneurship initiative.
  • Tamkeen allocated around 47% of support to empower Bahraini women through training as well as entrepreneurship and business support programmes.


UK & Bahrain share more than 200 years of strong relations. Currently there are over 500 active UK commercial agencies and over 90 branches of British companies in Bahrain. In addition, over 350 Bahraini companies have UK partners. How do you evaluate the significance of strengthening ties between the two kingdoms for Bahrain’s private sector? How would you describe the business and investment climate in Bahrain?

The ties between the private sectors in the kingdom of Bahrain and the United Kingdom have a historical depth and have cultural similarities. With 200 years of relationship between the two kingdoms have surely benefited both parties immensely and consequently the private sector.

It is worth noting that Bahrain has gained a positive impact not only in social and administrative accomplishments but also in economic accomplishments that lead directly to benefiting the private sector that Tamkeen works tirelessly to support.

Also, Tamkeen contributes to strengthening this relationship via the support it provides to Bahraini and non-Bahraini enterprises located and running in Bahrain.

Bahrain, being part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has always played a vital role in paving the way for a free roaming trading pathway to larger economies, especially the eastern province of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, Bahrain has become a major hub for foreign investments and businesses, which, creates a huge opportunity to further boost economic and financial cooperation between the GCC and the kingdom of Bahrain with the United Kingdom and in turn this opens the door for the private sector to take advantage of this opportunity to partner with British businesses and exchange expertise to accelerate its growth.