Muscat: The Pearl Initiative, a leading Gulf-based non-profit organisation promoting a corporate culture of accountability and transparency as a key driver of competitiveness across the region, co-hosted a roundtable with Zubair Small Enterprises Centre (Zubair SEC) – a social impact initiative by The Zubair Corporation, one of Oman’s most prominent business groups - on the impact of good governance on the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
Held at Bait Al Zubair in Muscat, the roundtable drew the participation of leaders and experts from the top public and private sector organisations, family firms, and Omani entrepreneurs and SME owners. Attendees examined the challenges and opportunities shaping the SME landscape and the level of implementation required to adopt corporate governance and accountability practices across the GCC region. Moreover, the discussion highlighted some of the factors that can help overcome the issues SMEs face.
Sayyid Hamid bin Sultan Al Busaidy, executive director of Oman Centre for Corporate Governance and Sustainability (OCCGS) said, “Corporate governance might be a new or less applied practice for many businesses, especially small and medium-sized ones; as such, it is of significant importance to promote and raise awareness on such strategically essential practice. Many of the global successes we see today have reached that stage due to good governance and sustainability adaptations. I congratulate the Pearl Initiative and Zubair SEC for conducting this engaging roundtable and running an insightful and fruitful dialogue with Omani SMEs. The posed questions and inquiries by the audience reflect a good appetite by young entrepreneurs to understand and acquire best practices in this regard.”
Salah bin Hilal Al Maawali, CEO, SME Fund Oman, said, “Corporate governance principles and practices are vital to the sustainability of any business; it is as important to plant a proper understanding of governance at the early stages of any business to help in its healthier and more stable growth in the future. I was delighted to take part in the Pearl Initiative Round Table on Governance for SMEs, hosted by Zubair SEC. The engaging discussions were very insightful and reflected SMEs interest in the topic and its applicability”
Abdullah Al Jufaili, general manager, Sharakah Said: “While working with many SMEs, we come to realise more and more the need for equipping them with strategic tools and practices that can enable them to achieve sustainability on the long run. The concept and practices of corporate governance may not have been discussed much in the SMEs arena in the Sultanate and there will always be room for investing more effort to raise awareness in this regard. As such, I praise the efforts put by the Pearl Initiative and Zubair SEC to bring together SMEs, business owners and specialists into this roundtable to debate and discuss the practices and application of governance in small and medium-sized businesses.”
Carla Koffel, executive director of the Pearl Initiative, said, “Currently employing over 17 million people in the GCC region, SMEs play an instrumental role in driving the growth of the economy. Often, smaller businesses have limited access to resources and are unable to adopt governance practices effectively. At the Pearl Initiative, we understand this and seek to raise awareness of the benefits that good corporate governance can bring to SMEs, whether in facilitating access to finance, reducing risk, or achieving faster business growth.”
She added, “Through our workshops and roundtables, we encourage SMEs to adopt sound corporate governance practices early in their business development journey, and highlight how these systems can help them increase the value of their businesses in the long run.”
The event included discussion and elaboration on the key aspects of corporate governance methodology and the ways SMEs can implement them to increase competitiveness. There was a consensus by participants that the absence of corporate governance can lead to serious issues; they expressed keen interest in the solutions discussed.
Speaking on the collaboration, Mohammed Al Hasani, chief communications officer at The Zubair Corporation, said, “Apart from providing a platform for prominent regional business leaders to join the conversation on corporate governance, the roundtable stimulated a discussion on the most pressing challenges dominating the SME space. Through our collaboration with the Pearl Initiative, we aim to adopt a multi-pronged approach to addressing key issues in order to promote accountability, transparency and long-term sustainability. Such an effort also aligns with Zubair SEC’s continuous efforts to raise dialogues and awareness on strategic and practical topics that are key to the success and sustainability of SMEs in general and its members in specific.”
As part of the discussion, the attendees spoke about the importance of adopting a thorough decision-making process and acknowledged the fact that a well-designed matrix can enhance agility, speed, and effectiveness of decision-making within the organisation. Moreover, they also indulged in conversations about the need for effective risk management and internal control frameworks, which can help SMEs to achieve their operational, contractual and strategic objectives.
The event was part of the Pearl Initiative’s region-wide programme that seeks to raise awareness about the benefits of good corporate governance and accountability for SMEs with regard to long-term business sustainability and profitability.