MUSCAT, 12 May 2019
The annual al Wathbah Ramadhan Souq organised jointly by Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate and Riyada, the Public Authority for SME Development, at the Bank’s Head Office from May 9-11 evoked a strong response with thousands of visitors thronging the stalls over a three-day period. The Souq was inaugurated earlier on May 9 by Sheikh Waleed K. Al Hashar, Chief Executive Officer, Bank Muscat, and Dr Ahmed Mohsin Al Ghasani, CEO, Riyada.
Aimed at promoting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the Ramadhan Souq featured attractive products and services from more than 100 entrepreneurs and showcased a number of Omani products encompassing fashion, beauty, health and food as well as services at competitive prices.
Ibrahim Khamis Al Balushi, AGM - Small & Medium Enterprises, Bank Muscat, said: “SMEs play an increasingly important role in the economic development and progress of the Sultanate. Hence, Bank Muscat has been continuously coming up with many initiatives to benefit the SME sector over the last many years. The annual al Wathbah Ramadan Souq is an excellent example of the Bank’s initiatives to create opportunities for local entrepreneurs to grow the market for their products and services, thereby allowing them to fulfil their part in the making of a strong, prosperous and highly-developed country.”
Apart from the Ramadhan Souq, the Bank has launched a number of important initiatives to encourage Omani entrepreneurs including women and young people. The al Wathbah Businesswomen’s Forum is a first-of-its-kind networking initiative which provides an online platform for business owners to share contacts, skills, talents, experiences, leads and referrals.
The al Wathbah Academy was launched by the bank in 2013 as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative to equip Omani youth with self-employment skills.
The academy marks a clear progression of the well-defined strategy pursued by the bank in line with the Royal Directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to support the SME sector. The comprehensive 8-month long training programme at the Academy allows Omani youth to gain accredited international certification from Project Management Institute (PMI) while also serving as a launching pad for start-up business initiatives.
The bank’s al Wathbah SME department offers a comprehensive suite of tailor-made finance solutions and non-financial services targeted at small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Credit facilities, both funded and non-funded in nature, are available to all sectors. Further support is extended through non-financial services in areas of education, coaching, networking opportunities and workshops.
Serving as building blocks for existing and prospective entrepreneurs, all these initiatives assume importance in the backdrop of the priority accorded by the government to develop the SME sector in Oman.