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Bank Muscat launches al Wathbah Academy in Sohar to support SME development

MUSCAT, 31 October 2015 – Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate, as part of its 'Let's Do More' vision and commitment to partnership in supporting youth to embark on entrepreneurial ventures, launched al Wathbah Academy in Sohar. The first intake of the academy include 15 youth from Batinah region who will undergo 8-months training programme. The launch ceremony held at the bank's Regional Office in Sohar was attended by dignitaries and senior bank officials, including Ali Jamaa, Senior Regional Manager.  

The unique al Wathbah Academy was launched by the bank in August 2014 as part of its commitment to sustainable social development, complementing government efforts in strengthening the role of SMEs in the economic development of Oman.

Marking the 45th year of Oman's Renaissance anniversary under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, and in recognition of the immense benefits accruing from the training programme, Bank Muscat widened the scope of al Wathbah Academy training programme to benefit 30 participants this year, taking the total number of beneficiaries to 45 in the year of Oman's 45th Renaissance anniversary. The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative is aimed at equipping youth with self-employment skills boosting the country's progress and development.

Ilham Al Hamaid, AGM – SME Credit, Marketing and Regional Corporates, said: “Bank Muscat is proud to facilitate access for entrepreneurs in Batinah region to follow their business dreams by acquiring the required skills and knowledge through the unique training programme. In light of the business environment in Oman which offers tremendous opportunities and challenges for the SME sector, Bank Muscat remains committed to creating self-employment opportunities for citizens across the Sultanate."

The bank's support to the country's youth to enhance skills and thereby embark on self-sustainable employment initiatives are in line with the directive of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to support the SME sector and strengthen its role in the economic development of Oman.

The objective of al Wathbah Academy is to impart the required skills and guidance for entrepreneurs drawn from diverse fields to embark on successful SME business ventures. The 8-months training programme is offered in association with AMIDEAST, leading to accredited international certification by Project Management Institute (PMI).

The unique SME initiative plays an important role in filling the gaps and empowering entrepreneurs to chart successful business ventures. The academy marks a clear progression of the well-defined strategy pursued by the bank in line with the directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to support the SME sector.

Aimed at strengthening the SME sector, the bank's al Wathbah SME department offers a comprehensive suite of tailor-made finance solutions. A unique SME financing launched by the bank has helped entrepreneurs overcome challenges arising from the requirement of collateral guarantees for SME finance. al Wathbah SME non-collateral finance not requiring collateral guarantee is a bold step affirming the bank's commitment to encouraging an entrepreneurial culture in Oman.

The bank has also launched a series of initiatives as part of a comprehensive plan to support women entrepreneurs in Oman. The bank regularly conducts workshops and seminars to equip SMEs to identify business opportunities and tackle challenges. 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.

The support to SMEs and women empowerment initiatives stem from the bank's commitment to create self-employment opportunities for youth who constitute more than 50 per cent of the country's population.