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Bank Muscat SME workshop highlights financial management

MUSCAT, 30 October 2013 - Bank Muscat SME department in collaboration with International Finance Corporation (IFC) hosted a workshop on 'Using and analysing financial statements for decision-making' at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Sohar. The workshop conducted by expert trainers was attended by existing and prospective entrepreneurs from the Batinah region.

Ali Jama, Senior Regional Manager – North Batinah, said: “Small businesses are a vital part of the Omani economy and Bank Muscat is proud to complement the government efforts in helping entrepreneurs address the challenges faced by SME business and provide an environment critical to SME success. The Bank Muscat support to SMEs stems from the strong belief that SMEs help boost the local economy, contribute to the GDP and create self-employment opportunities for youth who constitute more than 50 per cent of the country's population."

Against the backdrop of the priority accorded by the government to develop the SME sector, Bank Muscat regularly conducts workshops and seminars to equip SMEs to identify business opportunities and tackle challenges. As owners or managers of small and medium size business, being capable of reading, understanding and analysing financial statements is essential to survive and grow in a competitive environment. The workshop helped the participants to understand a balance sheet, income statement and cash flow and how the three are interrelated and essential to analyse and evaluate business profitability, liquidity and returns, in order to take appropriate managerial decisions to successfully run SMEs.

Over the years, Bank Muscat has taken several strategic steps to strengthen the SME sector in Oman. Notably, the bank in implementation of the recommendations of the Royal symposium on SMEs, has launched a unique mentoring programme for SMEs under the direct supervision of AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive. The CE mentoring programme is an initiative developed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to impart the required skills and guidance to entrepreneurs drawn from diverse fields.

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.

In 2012, the bank partnered with the Ministry of Commerce & Industry to launch the government guaranteed loan programme in support of SMEs. Aimed at strengthening the SME sector, Bank Muscat offers a comprehensive suite of tailor-made finance solutions.

The bank's first-of-its-kind Al Wathbah Business Zone is a unique facility that addresses a long-felt need of entrepreneurs in Oman. The business zone can be used free of cost by Bank Muscat's SME customers who do not have their own office space. The SME Credit and Marketing Department is available to help them tap the bank's expertise developed over the past 30 years to deal with all aspects ranging from conceptualisation to setting up of successful SME units. Al Wathbah Business Zone located at the bank's head office has evoked good response from entrepreneurs with start-up ventures.

The bank, as part of its commitment to SME development and women empowerment initiatives, recently launched the first-of-its-kind online networking forum for women entrepreneurs. The forum fulfills a long-felt need in bringing together businesswomen to benefit from each other's business expertise and experience. The forum serves as a source of inspiration and encouragement for women to embark on SME initiatives and thereby contribute to progress and development in Oman.