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Oman Wants to Increase Success Rate of SMEs

Over 50% Fail Within Five Years, Which is a Drag on Efforts by the Gulf Nation to Diversify its Oil & Gas-based Economy

The two-day Oman SME Summit in Muscat got off to a rousing start with a Welcome Speech and Special Address by His Highness Al Sayyid Dr. Adham Turki Al Said, who, in keeping with the theme of the event, spoke about the need for reinvigorating the SME market in Oman.

The summit was held at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel, Ritz Carlton on September 13-14. The venue was packed with close to 180 delegates, which served to emphasize the need for such an event in a nation that is pulling out all the stops to spur its SME sector to reach greater heights.

The 36 speakers - comprising officials, entrepreneurs and businesspersons - touched upon topics such as training for entrepreneurs, raising and utilization of capital, skill development and regulatory issues.

In a very engaging presentation, Raphael V. Parambi, CEO, SME Development Fund presented the 'case of the missing middle'. It struck a chord with the delegates. The presentation elicited several questions from entrepreneurs and regulators alike.

Other speakers touched upon the reasons that are holding back the growth of SMEs and also offered possible solutions. Among other things, the gathering was told that more than half of SMEs fail within the first five years. It was clear that there is a great need to train entrepreneurs to deal with the various needs of a business - skills, raising capital, maintaining accounts, cash flow management.

The list of dignitaries was led by His Highness Al Sayyid Dr. Adham Turki Al Said. Among others present were His Excellency Dr. Ali Saud Al-Bemani, Honorable Engineer Naashiah bint Saud Al Kharusi and Ali Daud, chairman of Ali Daud Group and founder of Startup Oman.

Among the highlights were a special address by British Ambassador Jonathan Wilks and Indian Ambassador Indra Mani Pandey.

Jonathan Wilks started his speech in Arabic before translating the same in English for non-Arabic delegates. It may be noted that Jonathan Wilks has been serving British interests in the Gulf for close to 25 years and is well-versed with the needs of the region. He stressed on utilizing funds, like the Prince's Trust, to promote SME growth.

Indra Mani Pandey focused on how Indian companies can work with Omani companies to build and strengthen the SME sector in Oman.

Prominent Omani businessman and entrepreneur Ali Daud and Canadian entrepreneur Sherry Colbourne took the opportunity to launch their company Startup Oman, which is a one-stop shop for SMEs. They came up with an innovative way to launch their company. They distributed pamphlets about Startup Oman among the delegates. They then asked the delegates to turn the pamphlets into paper planes and launch them in the air. Not only did the launch become a talking point, but the duo also lifted the spirits of the assembled delegates.

The highlight of Day 2 was a panel discussion on 'Beyond The Border' moderated by Dr. Jalal Saleh Al Hadhrami, founder of Celebrity Global Holdings in Dubai, UAE. The panelists Nasima Yahya Zirook Al-Balushi, Pankaj Khimji, Nicholas Pattison and Sherry Colbourne discussed the prospects of Omani SMEs in international markets.

Basking in the success of the summit, Basant Das, Head of Events at IFM, said, "We look forward to organising some more thought-provoking conferences in Oman in 2016."

www.internationalfinancemagazine.com

 

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