How do SMEs contribute to Oman's economic growth?
Opportunities exist across all the sectors, especially for SMEs. Over the last 10 years, there has been a lot of investment in cinemas, coffee shops, restaurants, and other leisure activities. As a result, some of our entrepreneurs now have multiple brands and offerings. This creates a snowball effect, as it leads to employment generation, which in turn increases wealth amongst our citizens who can then afford to buy products and services (preferably from an SME), ultimately allowing that business and the economy to grow. IT, communications, renewable energy, and IoT are areas where the new generation of entrepreneurs can play a big role. Our objective is to invest in our own future. If we have a strong, viable SME sector, our businesses and ultimately the economy will be strong.
How do you select those projects that will best suit Oman's marketplace?
At the start of each year, we analyze the market to see the new players in the field and identify gaps in the market. If we see a gap no one else is addressing, we see if it meets our criteria for intervention and development. We have a large shareholder base that helps us better understand new trends and future potential business opportunities that newcomers can benefit from. There are large corporations that use Sharakah's expertise to achieve their SME-related CSR goals, be it through sponsorship or providing training to young entrepreneurs and graduates to prepare them for a future in business. We hold Ruwad Sharakah events where we invite prominent businesspeople to share their expertise and give advice to our entrepreneurs, giving them a platform to ask questions and learn from the best in the industry. We are delighted with the progress we have made in the last 20 years.