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Bank Muscat extends lead support to 6th SME exhibition

MUSCAT, 11 February 2014 – Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate, has extended lead support to the 6th SME Exhibition and Conference organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Public Authority for SME Development from 17 to 19 February at Oman International Exhibition Centre. The support to the 3-day event by al Wathbah, Bank Muscat's SME department, complements the government efforts in strengthening the SME sector.

Bank Muscat is a strong supporter of the government policy to encourage individual initiatives for self-employment. The support to SMEs stems from the bank's commitment to create self-employment opportunities for youth who constitute more than 50 per cent of the country's population.

Aimed at strengthening the SME sector, al Wathbah offers a comprehensive suite of tailor-made finance solutions. The bank also 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.

A unique mentoring programme for young entrepreneurs (SMEs) being held under the direct supervision of AbdulRazak Ali Issa, Chief Executive of Bank Muscat, has made headway with the beneficiaries drawn from diverse fields gaining valuable guidance and skills to promote and establish their business ventures. Aimed at creating a successful generation of entrepreneurs, 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, a unique facility that addresses a long-felt need of entrepreneurs in Oman. The business zone in the bank's head office 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 at all levels to promote and establish their business ventures.

Another initiative by the bank is a first-of-its-kind online networking forum for women entrepreneurs. al Wathbah Businesswomen's Forum is a unique initiative benefiting women entrepreneurs in Oman. The dedicated web portal allows women entrepreneurs to engage in live networking. The forum fulfills a long-felt need in bringing together businesswomen and helping them 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 the progress and development in Oman.

The bank recently launched a unique SME financing programme which addresses a long-felt requirement of entrepreneurs in Oman. The new facility broadens financial access and helps entrepreneurs overcome challenges arising from the requirement of collateral guarantee for SME finance. al Wathbah SME Non-Collateral Programme opens a new world of opportunity for entrepreneurs. The financing programme not requiring collateral guarantee is a bold step affirming the bank's commitment to encouraging an entrepreneurial culture in Oman.