Sources of Capital in Qatar
Sources of Finance/ General Guidance on Obtaining Start-Up Capital
One of the biggest challenges facing a new SME is finding capital to support the business. There are various options open to a new SME. These include:
- Personal funding from the founder of the business.
- Funding from friends or family.
- Finance from banks and other financial institutions.
- Grants or loans from public sector bodies (if available in the country of operation of the SME).
Qatar sources of funding:
In Qatar there are six conventional local banks, seven conventional foreign banks and four fully Shari’ah compliant Islamic banks. There is one specialised bank, Qatar Development Bank (QDB), which is a state owned bank for financing small and medium scale development projects. There are also 23 licensed banks that operate from the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC).
Conventional domestic banks
Conventional foreign banks
Shari’ah compliant domestic banks
For further contact details of all banks, investment and financing companies, and exchange houses in Qatar please click on the following link: QCB Financial Institutions List.
Many of the banks in Qatar also offer other services targeted at SME’s. Further details and relevant contacts can be seen on their websites.
QDB provides funding assistance to start-up and existing businesses in the private sector by offering competitive interest rates and favourable terms such as lengthy repayment periods. Funding is made available through direct facilities from the bank or in the form of guarantees. Another offering from QDB aimed at SMEs is the Al-Dhameen Program.
QDB provides Project Finance Loans and Raw Material Loans to start-up and existing businesses with qualifying projects in the core sectors of manufacturing, education, healthcare and tourism. The other core sectors of agriculture, livestock and fisheries have separate arrangements in terms of loan repayment.
- Project Finance Loans: are long term loans which are used to finance whichever is greater of 80% of the core business related equipment or 60% of the total project costs. Loan requests for agriculture, fisheries and livestock projects may also be considered, on a case by case basis, for financing of up to 80% of the core business related equipment.
The loan terms vary according to the type of investment. For start-up businesses repayment is over 8 years with a maximum two-year grace period for new projects. For existing businesses repayment is over a maximum of 5 years with a maximum 1 year grace period. Annual interest is charged at 5% with a one-time processing fee of 1% paid up-front for manufacturing sector applicants and the annual interest rate for education, health-care and tourism sector applicants is 3%.
- Raw Material Loans: are short term loans that cover up to 100% of the cost of raw materials. The loan is a revolving credit facility to ensure continuity of the production process and can be used as working capital for inventories and receivables. Due to the short term nature of these loans, the repayment period varies, however it will not exceed 12 months with a grace period of between 2 and 6 months. Annual interest is at the rate of 5 %.
 What is the Al Dhameen Program?
Al Dhameen is an indirect lending initiative launched by QDB to assist SME’s that are not able to borrow money from banks due to a lack of collateral or financial statements.
 Who is it for?
- Start-up companies (defined as having been in operation for less than 3 years).
- Existing companies with an annual turnover of less than QAR 40million.
- Company must be based in Qatar, with head office and main operations located here.
The following companies/sectors are not eligible:
- Non-profit seeking companies.
- These sectors:
- Agriculture, livestock and fisheries.
- Non-oil mining and quarrying.
- Wholesale and retail trade.
- Financial and insurance activities.
- Real estate activities
 What are the characteristics of the loan offered?
- A maximum interest rate of 7%.
- For term loans geared towards capital expenditure, the maximum repayment period is 5 years including a 1 year grace period.
- Loans are repaid either monthly or quarterly.
- The loan funds are normally transferred through wire transfers, letters of credit and the like rather than cash being dispersed directly into the borrower’s account.
 How does the program work?
- The SME approaches an Al Dhameen partner bank to apply for a credit facility. These partner banks, which include both conventional and Shari’ah compliant banks, are listed below.
- The partner bank screen the SME client for eligibility under the indirect lending criteria and conducts due diligence if required.
- Bank conditionally approves credit and requests guarantee from QDB to cover a portion of the total facility.
- QDB provides the following guarantees:
- Start-up companies - up to 85% of the loan amount.
- Existing companies - up to 75% of the loan amount
Requirements for the applicant:
- Contribute 13% of the project cost as equity.
- Pay administrative fees to the bank making the loan.
- Meet collateral requirements, e.g. mortgaging of the project assets, joint and several guarantees from the owner(s).
- Provide necessary documentation to the bank, e.g. company Commercial Registration, Articles of Association. See How to get finance from banks in Qatar