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Bank Muscat workshop highlights avenues for SME development

MUSCAT, 01 March 2014 – Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate, hosted a workshop on Global Trade Finance and Team Building for the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector at the bank's head office. The workshop was organised by the bank's al Wathbah SME department as part of activities aimed at expanding and strengthening avenues for SME development in Oman.

The workshop led by expert trainers evoked strong response from existing and prospective entrepreneurs who familiarised themselves with the scope of widening their SME ventures beyond the national boundaries. Topics covered included introduction to various instruments of trade finance, including import letter of credit, letter of guarantee loans against trust receipts, and other advances against local bills discounts, government supply bill discounting, export credit etc.

Ilham al Hamaid, AGM – SME Credit, Marketing and Regional Corporates, said: “Bank Muscat regularly organises workshops and seminars to facilitate unique learning opportunities to address the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and thereby create an environment favourable for SME success. Over the years, Bank Muscat has launched several initiatives as part of its commitment to SME development in Oman. Serving as building blocks for existing and prospective entrepreneurs, these initiatives assume importance in the backdrop of the priority accorded by the government to develop the SME sector in Oman. Aimed at strengthening the SME sector and creating a successful generation of entrepreneurs, al Wathbah is committed to launching such unique initiatives."

In line with the directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to support the SME sector and strengthen its role in the economic development of Oman, Bank Muscat has taken the lead to develop the SME sector in Oman. The first-of-its-kind initiatives recently launched by al Wathbah include an innovative SME financing programme not requiring collateral guarantee. The al Wathbah SME Non-Collateral Programme is a bold step affirming the bank's commitment to encouraging an entrepreneurial culture in Oman.

A unique mentoring programme for young entrepreneurs (SMEs) being held under the direct supervision of AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive of Bank Muscat, has also made headway with the beneficiaries drawn from diverse fields gaining valuable guidance and skills to promote and establish their business ventures. The CE mentoring programme is an initiative developed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

In 2012, the bank partnered with the Ministry of Commerce & Industry to launch the government guaranteed loan programme in support of SMEs. The bank also launched the first-of-its-kind al Wathbah Business Zone, which can be used free of cost by SME customers who do not have their own office space. A number of prospective entrepreneurs face challenges in taking forward their business plans for want of required support and facilities. al Wathbah Business Zone addresses this issue and helps entrepreneurs to promote and establish their business ventures.

Another initiative by the bank is a first-of-its-kind online networking forum for women entrepreneurs. The dedicated web portal, al Wathbah Businesswomen's Forum, fulfills a long-felt need in bringing together businesswomen to benefit from each other's expertise and experience. The forum serves as a source of inspiration and encouragement for women to embark on SME initiatives and thereby contribute to the progress and development in Oman.

Aimed at strengthening the SME sector, Bank Muscat offers a comprehensive suite of tailor-made finance solutions.