A few years ago, I had written an article about the experience of four sisters who were running a company. All of them had university degrees. Some of them had left their government jobs to start their own business. Some were looking for job.
I had said if these women were government employees, they would have cost the government one million Omani rials. Reason: the average monthly salary of each of them was RO 4,000 per month, RO 48,000 per year and RO 960,000 for 20 years of service.
I wrote about the sisters’ experience to encourage personal and private business and seek more financial support from the government. I have been following the family’s company as an example that can be emulated in all governorates of the Sultanate.
I was surprised when recently an entrepreneur who had the idea of starting this firm contacted me over phone. She was selected to be honoured for her efforts in promoting entrepreneurship.
She wanted to meet me. She had a lot of complaints about problems faced by entrepreneurs. She explained to me about the challenges she and her team were facing in the payment of dues or the non-availability of work contracts despite the better quality of their work.
Preference was being given to foreigners at some places, including the public sector companies. Such challenges might hamper their efforts.
There is no doubt there are entrepreneurship support policies, structures and institutions that strongly provide support.
The Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Al Rafd Fund, Oman Development Bank and other government organisations are working in the area and promoting entrepreneurship.
At the same time, there are other organisations whose work and policies do not match those of the government agencies mentioned above. This is why hurdles remain in the way of entrepreneurship. Efforts should be made to get rid of them, at the earliest.
One million rials provided by the government over a period of 20 years is not a small figure. It is much bigger, if we compare it with any support obtained or required by this family either for the purchase of its products or acceleration in the payment of their dues or any such help.
There is no doubt that encouraging entrepreneurship is the only way to support the youth and develop a culture of free and independent business in the country.
Of course, not all institutions suffer from delayed payments and other such wrong practices. However, we want to have a clear methodology in dealing with entrepreneurs as a support for the economic and social role they are playing and ensure their sustainability as entrepreneurs.
This is not possible if all ministries and public sector companies do not have full understanding of the meaning of entrepreneurship or translate words into actions.
We hope this issue is given the highest degree of attention. There will should be follow-ups due to its importance in empowering children of the country in contributing to the development of the nation.
We do not say that everything for small and medium enterprises will be a bed of roses or there will not be any difficulties. But we must be aware of our role in encouraging them and motivating them to continue instead of driving them to stand in an already long queue of job-seekers.
The failure of this model will have serious consequences for any new experiments. The advanced level of frustration and reluctance will not allow them to move forward. In this case, the result will be a failure. We do not want this.