MUSCAT, 6 November 2012 — Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate, and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, signed an agreement to facilitate financing access to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to help them expand and create jobs.
The agreement will see IFC advise the bank as it launches new products and services aimed at micro, small, and medium enterprises. Bank Muscat will also offer support to women-owned businesses, helping them become more active players in the Omani economy. There are over 100,000 small businesses in Oman and IFC will help Bank Muscat develop a new model for reaching out to these enterprises, offering businesses not only loans, but also advisory services.
AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive of Bank Muscat, said: “Small businesses are a vital part of the Omani economy. Bank Muscat is proud to sign this agreement with IFC which will help entrepreneurs to address the challenges faced by SME business and provide an environment critical to SME success.”
“In many ways, Oman's banking system can serve as a model for other countries in the Middle East and North Africa," said Rashad Kaldany, IFC Vice President of Global Industries. "This agreement will help show that supporting smaller businesses not only encourages economic development, but that it also makes financial sense for banks."
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. Aimed at strengthening the SME sector, Bank Muscat offers a comprehensive suite of tailor-made finance solutions. Early this year, the bank partnered with the Ministry of Commerce & Industry to launch the government guaranteed loan programme in support of SMEs. The bank also recently launched the first-of-its-kind Al Wathbah Business Zone, a unique facility that addresses a long-felt need of entrepreneurs in Oman.
The Bank Muscat – IFC agreement marks the consolidation of partnership between the two organisations. In late 2011, IFC provided Bank Muscat with a $170 million loan to boost lending to small businesses. The initiative is part of IFC’s efforts in the Middle East and North Africa to support those firms. During the 2012 fiscal year, which ended in June, IFC facilitated the disbursement of 325,000 loans worth $672 million to micro, small, and medium enterprises.
About Bank Muscat:
Bank Muscat is the Sultanate of Oman’s largest bank with assets worth US$19.2 billion, as of June 2012, commanding a market share of nearly 40%. The bank’s small and medium enterprise business has pioneered many industry-leading practices and remains committed to further growth. The bank has a strong corporate banking business and has also built the country’s largest consumer banking franchise through its network of 135 branches.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector. We help developing countries achieve sustainable growth by financing investment, mobilizing capital in international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments. In FY12, our investments reached an all-time high of more than $20 billion, leveraging the power of the private sector to create jobs, spark innovation, and tackle the world’s most pressing development challenges. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.