In response to the Royal Directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Development Symposium began at Saih al Shamekhat in the wilayat of Bahla on Monday under the patronage of Sayyid Khalid bin Hilal bin Saud al Busaidi, Minister of Diwan of Royal Court.
The outcome of the symposium will be utilised to draft policies for current and future five-year plans.
The three-day symposium will help promote an entrepreneurship culture in Omani youths, enhance efforts to provide job-oriented education, diagnose obstacles to development of SMEs and propose solutions.
Sayyid Khalid also inaugurated an exhibition on the sidelines of the event. “Programmes to follow up on implementation of the symposium's outcomes will be held and recommendations made. Private and public sectors will ensure implementation of the plans,” he said.
Public and private establishments interested in supporting SMEs are taking part in the exhibition, which will showcase the experiences of entrepreneurs and provide start-ups with guidance by successful entrepreneurs and CEOs.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Abdullah al Bakri, Minister of Manpower, urged the youth to benefit from the opportunities available in the private sector. “It is important for the private sector to support entrepreneurs by adopting their ideas, encouraging them and providing them with a healthy environment for setting up projects,” he said.
Sultan bin Salim al Habsi, Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Planning and member of the symposium's main committee, said, “His Majesty the Sultan has given great importance to encouraging business initiatives and SMEs, which are the main component of the economic diversification strategy, helping create job opportunities for Omani youths and enhancing the growth of the economy. It is important for the private sector to take part in economic activity and ensure a direct contribution to growth,” he said.
The first day's sessions touched upon entrepreneurship and a free business culture, and reviewed a number of case studies. A seminar on investment opportunities and subsidy programmes was also held. Policies, laws and procedures, as well as finance and investment, will be discussed on Tuesday.
The symposium is also aimed at empowering women by encouraging them to set up their own businesses and develop entrepreneurial skills.
Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) chairman Khalil bin Abdullah al Khonji said that entrepreneurs represent three per cent of the sultanate's 500,000 youths, and interest in SMEs is growing. “Laws should be made simpler and finance easier to encourage youths to start their own ventures,” he said.
He highlighted OCCI's efforts to promote SMEs. "OCCI has set up a special department for SMEs which will be supported by a committee of businessmen. It has also created a department for communication between governmental bodies and business owners. An awareness campaign for facilities provided by the Tender Board will be conducted soon."
A number of ministers, undersecretaries, members of the State Council and Majlis A'Shura, government officials and SMEs owners are attending the event.