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Escape the rain and head to Saudi!

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Saudi Arabia is to build four industrial cities around Riyadh dedicated to nurturing female entrepreneurs. The aim is to reduce the unemployment rate among Saudi women.

The scheme, by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry ( RCCI ), has already been approved by Prince Mansour bin Abdul Aziz, Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs. Final approval is soon expected from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI).

Each of the four clusters will cost upward of $19m and occupy up to 500,000 m2, hosting 30 categories of manufacturing and industrial firms, as well as teaching facilities. “The establishment of these cities constitutes a step through which RCCI is seeking to serve all areas of Riyadh, and helping to find local industrial products made by women, and a new base for the recruitment of female job-seekers,” deputy chairman Saad bin Ibrahim Al-Meijel told Zawya.

The proposed clusters will be located on the east, west, south and north of Riyadh, and are part of the government’s wider plans to create 36 industrial zones in Saudi Arabia.


Enjoying the desert in Riyadh!

Developing Your International Potential – Exporting Success Programme

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Are you looking to expand your business overseas?  If your business is based in Greater London; has been trading for over one year; and employs less than 250 people, you will be eligible to apply for a programme which has been developed by North London Business to help businesses develop their international sales opportunities.

The programme comprises up to 12 hours of one to one advice with an Export Advisor, guidance and practical support to:

–          Explore new export markets;

–          Maximise your sales techniques to promote your products abroad;

–          Develop your website or portals for online sales, with minimum cost;

–          Prepare an effective export marketing strategy;

–          Understand export documentation and incoterms; &

–          Find distributors or agents abroad.

The programme is partly financed by the European Union, and is free for you to enrol.  However you will be expected to invest your time and resources on the project, and the 12 hours of support must be delivered within 3 months of your initial referral date.

If you are interested, please contact North London Business for an Exporting Success Enquiry/Referral Form on 020 8885 9203 and speak to Roya Jahanbin; or E-mail

Will Singapore become the “entrepreneurship capital” of South East Asia?

Monday, May 28th, 2012

There are various reasons why entrepreneurship has not traditionally thrived in Asia.  Relatively speaking, US culture regards failure in business as a positive part of the learning process, and therefore Americans are more inclined to take risks.  Asian culture, however, is less forgiving of failure.  In addition, Hugh Mason (Chief Executive of Joyful Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI)) explains that the traditional method in Asian schools is “all about getting the right answer”, and that “being smart sometimes weighs against entrepreneurship”.

Traditionally Singapore has been considered by many in the business world as a gateway to South East Asia, as it represents a relatively small market of five million people.  Investors often choose to temporarily place their money in Singapore before investing in larger markets in the region such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.  However Angel investors and venture capital funds are increasingly seeking investment opportunities in Singapore itself.

A growing number of educational institutions are running entrepreneurship programmes and providing mentoring opportunities; and the Singaporean government are actively removing regulatory barriers in a bid to encourage entrepreneurship.  Ron Mahabir (found of Asia Cleantech Capital) states that “While the government has done a great job of loans and grant programmes, culturally it’s very difficult to push entrepreneurship very quickly.”  Change, however, is undoubtedly underway in Singapore.  In fact, according to the WorldBank, Singapore ranks at Number One in the world “for ease of doing business, and Number Four “for starting a business”.

Singapore-based JFDI is working in partnership with SingTel [a subsidiary of a major telecommunications company] to run an accelerator programme for start-ups from around Asia.  This program allocates start-up teams from around the South East Asia with mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and specialists for 100 days, after which the start-ups can pitch to investors.  Wong Meng Weng (who helped start JFDI) says, “I see Singapore as the technology and start-up capital of South East Asia, not unlike the US where you recruit from around the world and get them to come into Silicon Valley”.

Is Current VAT System Disrupting your cashflow?

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Are you considering importing and exporting goods to and from outside the EU?

If so, you should be aware that many such British businesses claim to suffer cash-flow difficulties as a result of the alleged inefficiency of HMRC’s VAT reimbursement system.

Whereas the date upon which a company’s VAT needs to be paid is fixed under the Deferment scheme, HMRC do not repay the money on any fixed date.  HMRC argue in their favour that they aim to authorise at least 90% of correct VAT repayment returns within 10 days of receipt, but because some returns are selected for credibility checks, they cannot specify a particular date on which the money will be repaid.