Muscat: Four Omani firms have won contracts at the Qatar World Cup and the final tally will be more than 20 by kick-off time, according to the man tasked with promoting Oman’s fledgling companies.
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“We are working with the Qatari committee who have published an invitation to collaborate with Omani SMEs and enterprises. Already, four Omani micro businesses have won contracts related to port management at the World Cup. We are hoping this number would double by the end of this year.
“As we approach 2022 we will have more than 20 Omani SMEs working directly with the committee of legacy and projects,” Khalid Al Haribi, Acting CEO of Riyada, told TimesTV in an exclusive interview.
Under its new strategy, Riyada, the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, aims to increase the SME footprint in the country by creating an ecosystem that includes a comprehensive SME incubation and development package. According to Al Haribi, thousands of people have walked away from full-time jobs to devote their time to their own businesses. “14,000 people have quit (their jobs) and are dedicated to their businesses. That is 14,000 jobs created directly by Riyada,” he said.
Riyada has registered more than 27,000 active SMEs - beating its target of 25,000 before 2020 convincingly. “We have a national strategy. So far we have exceeded targets for 2020. We had a strategic target to convince and register 25,000 SMEs. Now we have almost 27,000 SMEs”.
Speaking about Omanisation in the sector, he said, “The Omanisation rules are relaxed for the first two years and then they are applied normally”. SMEs registered at Riyada have an evenly spread demographics, according to Al Haribi, but Riyada aims to increase the number of young entrepreneurs. “We look forward to more contribution from young generation as they are the future of the country,” he added.
Currently, government organisations need to award 10 per cent of their contracts to small units. “Not less than 10 per cent of all government contracts should go to SMEs. Any government, public sector or private sector entity that would like to be linked to more cost effective micro and small businesses, we (Riyada) have a team dedicated to facilitate the connection for you.”
Riyada’s vision is to help SMEs contribute to 50-65 per cent to the economy in terms of revenue and job creation by 2023. “Our aim is to focus on setting up the whole ecosystem for SMEs where every aspect complements the other instead of only creating an environment where there is competition and support that is not well connected. Creating a culture for entrepreneurship is the most important”.