Muscat: Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are the best way to generate employment for Omanis in the future, given the projected population boom in the Sultanate, according to industry experts.
The National Centre of Statistics and Information (NCSI) predicts that Oman’s population will increase by 2.4 million and cross 6.5 million by 2040.
This called for the creation of more jobs, which, experts said, was only possible through SMEs.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Renaissance Services Vishal Goenka said starting and running your own business was a dynamic job and that instead of asking the government for a job, young Omanis could create jobs for others.
“Job creation through SMEs is a global trend. SMEs are the largest generator of jobs worldwide. However, in the developing world, we have only two SMEs per 100 people. This needs to go up. It’s not easy to create jobs for everyone. More SMEs would certainly help Oman in the long run. It’s a sound way to approach matters,” Goenka said.
“We have this example of a fisherman who is very skilled, but, perhaps, doesn’t know much about hygiene and how to properly store the fish he catches. If only someone gives him the necessary guidance, he can be a supplier for you,” he added.
CFO of Gulf Energy Nat Vora said that if SMEs were to flourish, they required guidance from leaders in the industry. “Mentorship is essential. This is especially true in the case where youngsters come with something new, an innovation. Such start-ups require mentorship and, perhaps, more financial prudence and hand-holding. According to some estimates, around 70 per cent of jobs are generated by SMEs worldwide. So, one can see how important they are,” Vora added.
CEO of U-capital Loai Batainah emphasised that the availability of loans could make or break the SME culture in any economy. “Well, you see, the definition of SMEs is different in every country. So, you have to qualify as an SME to get loans. But the truth of the matter is if a small business is going to thrive and create job opportunities, it has to be supported with sufficient loans. Banks need not think it is charity. In fact, it can be quite profitable,” Batainah said.
Omran CEO Flavio Simonutti said start-ups should be helped through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. “Registering SMEs is a challenge, sustaining them is even more difficult. So, it is incumbent on industry leaders to lend a helping hand. If it is a technical matter, experts should guide them. For instance, helping locals produce honey is not charity. In fact, it is very worthwhile,” Simonutti added.