Muscat: Nearly 70 per cent of small and medium enterprise (SME) owners are younger than 30 years old, according to officials at Zubair Small Enterprise Centre.
"Around 70 per cent of SME owners are younger than thirty years old, and 36 per cent of the owners are based in Muscat," said Ali Shakir, Advisor at Zubair Small Enterprise Centre (Zubair SEC).
There are currently 160,000 SMEs in the Sultanate, according to Ali Al Lawati of Bank Muscat.
This was revealed during the Southern Batinah Forum for Financial Facilitation, which took place on Monday under the patronage of Tahir bin Salim bin Abdullah Al Amri, Executive President, of the Central Bank of Oman, in the attendance of Qais bin Mohammed Al Yousef, Chairman of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI).
SMEs require support, according to Eng Hamoud bin Salem Al Saadi, Chairman of the Board at Southern Batinah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"We are aware of the struggles that SMEs face when it comes to financing and loans, and we have asked those in a position to do so, to assist and simplify the processes for these businesses, as well as to reduce loan guarantee requirements," he added.
Aisha Al Siyabi of Bank Dhofar added, "One of the most important free services that we offer are consultation services for businesses regarding financing, and there are also workshops that are organised for them, in cooperation with those at the bank."
"We offer a programme called Wathba for financing products, bonds, contracts, dues, and purchase orders without loan guarantees," said Al Lawati of Bank Muscat.
"Financial institutions should understand the economic situation that SMEs are under in order for these businesses to thrive in the current climate," Al Saadi said.