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Big boost for women empowerment as Bank Muscat launches online forum

MUSCAT,  25 September 2013 - Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate, as part of its commitment to SME development and women empowerment initiatives has launched the first-of-its-kind online networking forum for women entrepreneurs. Manal Mohammed Al Abduwani, Chairperson of Oman Flour Mills, presided at the launch ceremony of al Wathbah Businesswomen's Forum, in the presence of AbdulRazaq Ali Issa, Chief Executive, at the bank's head office.

Manal Mohammed Al Abduwani congratulated Bank Muscat for launching al Wathbah Businesswomen's Forum and said: “This is a unique initiative benefiting women entrepreneurs in Oman. The forum fulfills a long-felt need in bringing together businesswomen and helping them to benefit from each other's business expertise and experience. The forum will serve as a source of inspiration and encouragement for women to embark on SME initiatives and thereby contribute to progress and development in Oman."

AbdulRazaq Ali Issa said: “Bank Muscat is proud to facilitate various opportunities to address the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and provide a favourable environment critical to SME success. In an environment where competition is becoming tougher, identifying and seizing opportunities is essential for Omani SMEs to survive and grow.  Al Wathbah Businesswomen's Forum is aimed at helping women entrepreneurs to identify opportunities to successfully promote their SME operations. The forum is designed to inspire and engage women as entrepreneurs and propel their business with easy business techniques."

al Wathbah Businesswomen's Forum aims to encourage the development of business relationships among women entrepreneurs. Acknowledging the growing contribution of women to the national economy, the online platform allows the sharing of experiences and best practices, in addition to updates on al Wathbah services and events.

al Wathbah is committed to giving wings to the business dreams of women entrepreneurs in Oman. The forum brings professional women together to provide them with leadership development opportunities and vital connections that help them advance and succeed in their businesses. With an eye toward the changing culture of business, al Wathbah offers the first-of-its-kind social and innovative networking service dedicated to assisting businesswomen of all ages.

All female entrepreneurs who either have their own businesses, own large portion of shares in a business entity or who would like to enter business are eligible to register and benefit from this group. The primary goal of al Wathbah Businesswomen's Forum is to provide a common platform for networking with other businesswomen in addition to facilitating opportunities for SME development programmes.

The dedicated web portal allows registered women entrepreneurs to engage in live networking. Presently, al Wathbah Businesswomen's Forum is the only one-of-its-kind in Oman. The portal will be updated on a regular basis to highlight relevant topics on business and non-business related to women. The business profiles of all members will be featured on the portal to enable effective networking among women entrepreneurs, besides guidelines on how to start business, how to prepare business plan etc. Contact details of ministries and other organisations where women can obtain support for setting up SMEs will also be available on the portal. The members can also enjoy other benefits such as live Accelerated Networking events, workshops etc.

Bank Muscat has launched several initiatives to equip SMEs to identify business opportunities and tackle challenges. Serving as building blocks for existing and prospective entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs, these initiatives assume importance in the backdrop of the priority accorded by the government to develop the SME sector in Oman.

Kamla al Aufi, SME promoter, said: "We are thankful to Bank Muscat for launching al Wathbah Businesswomen's Forum which will serve as an effective voice for women entrepreneurs. The forum will be a great support for women who are managing home-based business initiatives to interact with established businesswomen and learn from their experience."

Over the years, Bank Muscat has taken several strategic steps to strengthen the SME sector in Oman. al Wathbah, Bank Muscat's small and medium enterprise (SME) department, has been very dynamic in financing businesses and strengthening the SME foundation in Oman. The Bank Muscat support to SMEs stems from the strong belief that SMEs help boost the local economy, contribute to the GDP and create self-employment opportunities for youth who constitute more than 50 per cent of the country's population.