Muscat, 20 October 2020
Bank Muscat, the leading financial services provider in the Sultanate, has won the Best Bank for SMEs 2020 (Oman) from Asiamoney in recognition of its role in strengthening small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) so as to diversify the Sultanate’s economy and create job opportunities for Omani youth. Facilitating financial inclusion, Bank Muscat’s SME products and services have created a benchmark, helping SMEs to overcome hurdles and chart successful ventures with proper planning, financial discipline and prudent management. Early on, Bank Muscat identified the opportunities and challenges faced by this vital segment to develop a relevant suite of products and services, which have been making a world of difference to this crucial pillar of the economy over the last two decades.
Ibrahim Bin Khamis Al Balushi, Assistant General Manager - Small & Medium Enterprises, Bank Muscat, said: “The SME sector plays an important role in the development of economies across the globe. This Award recognises the bank’s pioneering efforts in boosting the SME sector in Oman so as to contribute in a big way towards creating employment, improving economic diversification and increasing its contribution to the GDP. We are very happy and encouraged to see our efforts in developing this sector recognised by a top international publication like Asiamoney.”
Recognising the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) early on as an economic engine of growth, Bank Muscat launched its Al Wathbah programme to provide financing to the sector in the early 2000s. Over the last many years, the programme has succeeded in building up this crucial part of the economy to one of substantial strength. The bank’s focus on SMEs has been gathering pace and the bank has supported thousands of enterprises with different banking and financing facilities over the years. An important part of the bank’s drive to promote sustainability is the non-financial support extended to SMEs. Several initiatives have been launched over the years including the Souq Al Wathbah annual exhibition and the Al Wathbah SME Business Zone dedicated for usage by SME customers of the bank. Also, the bank has been running the unique Al Wathbah Academy training programme to develop the skills and knowledge of Omani entrepreneurs. About 160 candidates have benefited from the SME Academy since it was launched in 2014.
Bank Muscat’s “Najahi” programme is another important part of helping micro and small enterprises grow and strengthen the economy. The specially-designed suite of Najahi products include collateral-free credit facilities for micro and small businesses. The Najahi suite of products include the value-added Najahi Current Account, Najahi Flexi Loan to support working capital, business expansion and other business needs; the Najahi Business Credit Card; and Najahi PoS Receivables financing for customers who use PoS machines for sales. On the non-financial services, Najahi offers knowledge-sharing sessions under “Najahi Talks” as well as digital training programmes such as “Maharat Min Google”.
It must be noted that the bank also provides Sharia'a-compliant products and services to SMEs for their different business needs like Diminishing Musharakha, Murabaha, Ijarah and Wakalah Bilisthimar through its Meethaq SME unit.
As the largest financial services provider in Oman, Bank Muscat’s unique initiatives are particularly important in the backdrop of the government’s top priority to develop the SME sector in Oman. The bank has reaffirmed its commitment to continue strengthening sustainable development in the Sultanate with both existing as well as new, innovative products and services in the future.