Muscat: Government authorities and private companies are working towards promoting and encouraging SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), so they will contribute a larger share in the future to the country’s GDP.
“In the GCC and Oman, we have very a low percentage of contributions from SMEs to the economy, in general. It is only around 15 per cent. In healthier economies, it is around 60 per cent”, said Ali Shaker, Advisor, Zubair SEC, when the winners of the Direct Support Programme were being announced. He added, “So there is a big gap there, and we are trying to promote and encourage entrepreneurship. A healthy economy is based on having a strong SME foundation.”
One such programme by Zubair SEC is the Direct Support Programme aimed at providing support to high-potential young entrepreneurs and business owners. “DSP is an annual program in which we receive 200 applicants. We choose 10 business owners, small and micro, in which we see potential, and they have the right mindsets as entrepreneurs. We adopt them for one and a half years and try to set up their business, and there is a budget of OMR10,000 for each. They will be trained, receive financial support, business development support and we even try to give them access to markets”, he said. The participants in the DSP were from varied fields. “It is very diversified. We have them from Food and Beverage, education, tourism, and waste management. This is something we would like to show, that we are not focussed in certain sectors and industries, but we work in a wide range of fields,” he said.
The main aim is to organise the DSP, which is in its 5th edition. According to Ali, it is to help the SMEs contribute to the GDP of the nation and create jobs. “Our goal is to develop entrepreneurs and help them be self-employed, and employ others, as well,” he noted.
Ali believes that the country has come a long way since the government started focussing on small enterprises and empowering them. However, he also feels the country has a long way to go.
“Since 2013, the government is really focusing on developing the sector, and from that day a lot of regulations have been put in place. But a lot still needs to be done. For example, they have issued Riyada cards for SMEs, and holders of these cards can enjoy easier procedures and regulations in government, and they also have some exemptions on taxes. The government is really considering the challenges these SMEs are facing.”