Muscat: Retired employees from defence service, who recently received entrepreneurial training from SME Development Fund and Ministry of Defence, plan to collectively invest OMR4 million for developing small and medium enterprises in Oman this year.
“As per our estimate this year itself about four million rials of project will be initiated by the people who are coming out of MoD,” Raphael Parambi, chief executive officer of SME Development Fund told Times of Oman.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the SME Development Fund (SMEF) have collaboration for an initiative to encourage experienced MoD personnel to become entrepreneurs since last year.
According to Parambi, around 112 people have already been trained by the end of this year and another 150 MoD personnel will be trained to become entrepreneurs.
“This is in keeping with the directive to support entrepreneurship among government employees and with a view to enabling experienced officers and staff to utilise their long years of training and discipline,” Parambi said.
“These people can easily start their business with the help of the training and they will be very capable (in developing) SMEs,” he asserted.
“These are the things that the Sultanate needs right now; people should come out and do small enterprises,” Parambi added.
According to him, SMEF is also giving training to college students and they have trained more than ten thousand students so far.
“Through our training, we are looking to increase the supply of SME’s in the country,” Parambi explained.
He also pointed out that the SME’s are the future of Oman.
“In the early days, companies bring the equipment and manpower from abroad; it was not an issue because of the huge income from oil; right now we don’t have that income and we have to keep that money within the country,” Parambi said.
“The only way to move forward is to bring companies within the Sultanate and this is the only way to create job in Oman,” he added.
According to Parambi, government’s policy to give 10 per cent of large contracts to the SME’s offers an immense opportunity for them.
“SMEs are having a fantastic situation to grow but they need the guts to utilise the opportunities,” CEO said.
He also said that large companies like Larsen & Toubro and Orpic are ready to give projects to the SMEs and the opportunities are high.
“Main challenge is to find the SMEs which are capable to take up these kinds of jobs,” Parambi added.
He also pointed out that SMEs have difficulties in terms of finance, lack of good systems and equipment.
“Sometimes payment delays from large companies which affect their ability to buy material to execute their projects on time,” Parambi said.
According to him, these things make the large companies afraid to give the work to the SMEs and the gap between the SME’s and large companies is continuing.
“We (SMEF) are trying to bridge this gap between the small and large companies,” he said.
“We have financed more than 130 projects in the two year period and we provide not only the finance but also provide support to the SMEs by providing software, accounting support, mentoring, etc,” Parambi added.
“We monitor their work with the large companies so that they can get good quality requirements and that will help them to finish their work on time,” he explained.
Speaking on how SMEF and Riyada help the SMEs to overcome their challenges, Parambi said; “SMEF helps to overcome their internal challenges like management, systems, processes and finance and the Riyada helps to get the manpower, space and licensing.”