MUSCAT, 18 February 2014 – Continuing on the innovative initiatives benefiting entrepreneurs in Oman, Bank Muscat is all set to strengthen the SME sector as part of its commitment to create self-employment opportunities for youth who constitute more than 50 per cent of the country's population.
Addressing the 6th SME Exhibition and Conference organised by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Public Authority for SME Development, Ilham al Hamaid, AGM – SME Credit, Marketing and Regional Corporates, said: “Over the years, Bank Muscat has launched several initiatives as part of its commitment to SME development in Oman. 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. Aimed at strengthening the SME sector and creating a successful generation of entrepreneurs, al Wathbah, Bank Muscat's SME department, will continue to launch unique initiatives."
The first-of-its-kind initiatives launched recently by al Wathbah include 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 unique financing programme not requiring collateral guarantee is a bold step affirming the bank's commitment to encouraging an entrepreneurial culture in Oman.
The bank extended lead support to the 6th SME Exhibition and Conference, which concludes today (Wednesday, 19 February) at Oman International Exhibition Centre. The bank's stall at the SME exhibition evoked strong response as existing and prospective entrepreneurs were briefed on al Wathbah's comprehensive suite of tailor-made SME products and services.
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 allows women entrepreneurs to engage in live online networking. The dedicated web portal 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.
Ilham al Hamaid added: “In step with the directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to support the SME sector and strengthen its role in the economic development of Oman, Bank Muscat has taken the lead to strengthen the SME sector in Oman. Bank Muscat remains focused on facilitating various opportunities to address the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and provide an environment favourable for SME success."