Muscat: The National Business Centre (NBC), an initiative of the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates – Madayn, in cooperation with Oman India Fertiliser Company (Omifco), launched on Monday the second edition of Omifco SME Scaling-Up Programme (Wasel) under the auspices of Talal bin Sulaiman Al Rahbi, Deputy Secretary-General of the Supreme Council for Planning.
The launch event was held at the Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) in the presence of Eng. Musallam bin Mohammed Al Shehri, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Madayn for Operations, and officials representing several public and private bodies.
Speaking at the event, Nasser Al Malki, Director General of the National Business Centre, noted that NBC is managing Omifco SME Scaling-Up Programme (Wasel) for the second consecutive year.
“This comes along the lines of the efforts undertaken by NBC to support Small and Medium Enterprises in the Sultanate. NBC was established by Madayn to offer an ideal platform for Omani entrepreneurs to develop their innovative business ideas into growing ventures. Moreover, NBC services of NBC are divided into three phases, namely pre-incubation, during incubation, and acceleration phases,” Al Malki pointed out.
Ibtihaj Al Araimi, CSR Section Head at Omifco, stated that the company’s CSR strategy focuses on allocating 3 per cent of its annual net profits to implement social responsibility programmes. According to Al Araimi, these programmes focus on different priority areas of investment, which comprise entrepreneurship and SME development, education and workforce development, quality of life and enhancement, and environmental stewardship.
“Wasel Programme falls under entrepreneurship and SME development area, which aims at developing the skills of Omani entrepreneurs, enhancing the capabilities of SMEs, and providing job opportunities for the national cadres,” Al Araimi pointed out.
Al Araimi added that Wasel programme commenced in 2018 in partnership with the National Business Centre to contribute to the growth and expansion of existing SMEs and provide them with training and guidance services. “In its first edition, 15 companies joined the programme. One of the companies was able to receive financial support of OMR260,000 to finance its expansion plan in the neighbouring markets,” she said.
Al Araimi also gave a brief on other programmes that are implemented by Omifco, which include the Cell Programme. Omifco developed the Cell Programme in 2012 to encourage self-employment through supporting entrepreneurship and development of micro-businesses. Through the Cell Programme, Omifco does not only provide financial resources and technical and administrative support to aspiring entrepreneurs but also lead to the creation of several innovative SMEs and additional jobs.
On his part, Rashid Al Alawi, Director of Business Development at NBC, explained that Wasel is designed to address the challenges that the SMEs face after they cross the survival stage and are now eyeing to scale up by providing technical and financial coaching and training by specialised international experts. The programme, which is managed by the National Business Centre for the second consecutive year, is designed to enable the efficiency of small and medium enterprises to grow and expand locally and internationally. The programme also aims to enhance the capabilities of these SMEs in such a way that they can attract investors and receive necessary financing to develop and expand their activities.
Al Alawi informed that to join the programme, the SME has to be fully owned, managed, and operated by Omanis, completed at least 3 years in the same line of business and not more than 6 years, and has a minimum of 3 full-time employees. “The selection process is based on certain criteria and personal interviews with the owners and partners of the SMEs. Eleven companies representing different sectors have been accepted and will be presented to various investment opportunities and funds for expansion and growth purpose. It should be noted that the programme continues for six months,” Al Alawi elaborated.
A success story was highlighted during the event of SOMS Company, a company that has graduated from Wasel’s first edition. Ibrahim Al Malki, founder of SOMS pointed out that Wasel has greatly contributed to the growth of the company’s services through marketing and promotion, human resources, financial liquidity, human capital management, and business development. Finally, the companies that were part of Wasel’s first edition were officially graduated during the event.