Sharakah to offer new services to entrepreneurs

Business Sunday 10/January/2016 19:22 PM
By: Times News Service
Sharakah to offer new services to entrepreneurs

Muscat: Sharakah plans to step up its support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Oman with the introduction of a set of new services, said a senior official.
The new administrative services will be offered free of charge to those SMEs that have received financial support from Sharakah but others will be charged a fee if they want to use these services, said Abdullah Al Jufaili, general manager of Sharakah.
Speaking to ‘Times of Oman’, Al Jufaili said the company decided to develop the new services after receiving continuous requests from SMEs that had received financial support from other organisations but wanted Sharakah to monitor their business performance.
The information about the new services is available on Sharakah’s website and the company plans to launch them as soon as possible, he noted.
According to the Sharakah’s website, the administrative services that will be offered to SMEs before and after financing covers a number of areas including reviewing the business plan, financial projections, risk assessment, access to markets, promoting services and products, networking, monitoring performance, reviewing financial reports and developing a marketing plan.
Other initiatives
Asked about Sharakah’s other plans in 2016, Al Jufaili said that the company has successfully converted its equity scheme to a completely Sharia-compliant scheme and will attempt to convert more schemes this year. He added that Sharakah also plans to conduct the second edition of its annual forum later this year, which will be about how entrepreneurs can benefit from technology to develop their business.
According to the official, another initiative that the company is working on is inspired by the discussions that take place on Sharakah’s LinkedIn page on a regular basis.
“On Sharakah’s LinkedIn page, we post Sharakah news and also, from time to time, we pick an article in the news related to the economy. Then we discuss how that particular topic has an effect on SMEs,” Al Jufaili explained.
So Sharakah plans to launch a quarterly economic discussion session for the first time, where a target group of 30 to 40 participants will be invited to discuss matters of importance to entrepreneurs face to face. It will be a continuation of the discussions on the LinkedIn page, Sharakah’sgeneral manager noted.
Asked about the challenges in 2016, Al Jufaili said that given the current economic situation, there may be fewer opportunities for Sharakah and the clients that it has served. “So the strategy this year is to focus more on SMEs that we have already supported rather than just looking for new deals,” he stated.
The number of site visits will increase and the performance of the SMEs will be monitored more closely, he said, adding that Sharakah will be using its Business Performance Monitoring Tool (BPMT).
According toSharakah, BPMT is a performance measurement tool which verifies if there has been any improvement in the business over a specified timeframe.
The tool looks into any improvement in applying quality systems, abiding by industry quality standards, applying branding guidelines, promotional efforts online and on traditional media, applying human resources best practices and adhering to relevant regulations and policies.
2015 achievements
Commenting on Sharakah’s achievements and activities in 2015, Al Jufaili said that despite the economic downturn, the company managed to remain stable. The company’s interaction with the community has increased and more people have been contacting Sharakah, he noted.
Al Jufaili believes that one of the main achievements in 2015 was the successful holding of the first edition of Sharakah’s annual forum, which discussed the ‘role of media in supporting SME development’. It was a well-attended and well-received event with the majority of the participants being SME business owners, he noted.
In addition, the official said that Sharakah was recently awarded as the ‘best enterprise’ in the field of SME financial support at the Europe Business Assembly. Sharakah’s general manager was also awarded the ‘best manager’ for the year 2015 in the SME support category.