“Our goal is not centred around increasing the number of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Oman, but to promote more and more Omanis to become involved in the SME segment,” said Khalifa Said Salim Al Abri, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development, at the launch of the new Intilaaqah Entrepreneurial Development Programme (IEDP) by Shell Oman, held here yesterday.
Speaking to Times Business at the launch of the new Intilaaqah Entrepreneurial Development Programme, Al Abri said, “The authority is still in its nascent stage, and so it is too early to announce any new initiatives, though we are working on new plans. At present, our concentration is to continue to work on the implementation of the decisions taken recently after the royal decree was promulgated.” He added, “We will carry on with providing technical support programmes for entrepreneurs associated with the small and medium enterprises .”
Asked how many SMEs exist in the country, he said, “Many of them are really not SMEs in real terms; according to the registrations there are more than 200,000, but actively working SMEs may be around 100,000.”
Regarding the IEDP programme, which focuses on connecting entrepreneurs with potential business opportunities and providing access to strategic business partners, Al Abri noted, “This unique programme, offered to Omani youth by Shell in Oman, is in line with government directives and forms an excellent platform to tap into the immense potential of the SME sector and transform it effectively into a tool for economic growth”.
Intilaaqah is an adoption of Shell’s LiveWire global programme, which seeks to encourage young people, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, to establish their own businesses. Oman was the first country to adopt the Shell Intilaaqah programme in 1995.
The IEDP programme focuses on connecting entrepreneurs with potential business opportunities and providing access to strategic business partners. Its unique framework is carried out in two phases with the assistance of the Modern Gulf Institute (MGi) — delivery experts in the field of management development programs and specialists in small business and entrepreneurship.
The two phases include an intensive two-week classroom-training programme followed by five weeks of real time consulting. This programme is widespread and is being implemented in five regions — Muscat, Nizwa, Sohar, Sur, and Salalah — providing an equal opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs across the Sultanate of Oman.
Hashim Al Hasani, Intilaaqah Executive Director, said, “Although global economic trends have emphasised the role of the small and medium enterprises sector as the single largest driver for growth, very often we have seen several companies closing shop on account of a large gap between market demands and actual knowledge to sustain the business. To close this vital gap, our unique programme provides valuable inputs through its intensive training, coaching and strategic business, as well as financial partner tie-ups for business opportunities across the key regions of Oman. It is to encourage the entrepreneurs to confidently start their business with strength and with a low risk potential- a win-win situation for all stake holders.”