Oman startups need support to succeed

Tharwa Al Omairi –

Economists from all over the world agree that enterprises play a major role in the development of a country’s economy helping it overcome poverty and unemployment. In the light of globalisation and with an increasing percentage of employees wanting to work in the public sector, Omani youth have started to move towards the private sector by launching their creative projects to open up new business opportunities and contribute to the betterment of the Sultanate’s economy.
Becoming a private entrepreneur however is not an easy task. In fact, many of them face a lot of obstacles. These obstacles discourage others from establishing their own business afraid of making mistakes and failure.
In order to empower more people to engage in small and medium businesses, it is therefore essential to shed light on the success stories of those who worked their way towards establishing stable company. By sharing the experiences, it will allow others to see that there is always a solution to a business problem.
Zakaria al Saadi has been running his own business which he called Electronic Trolley. The concept of his project is simple — create an electric trolley that allows the user to see the weight of their baggage, the timings of their plane departure or arrival and even the possibility of using the features of the trolley to broadcast advertisements.
Al Saadi shared that as an SME, the primary problem they faced is the lack of support. New businesses mean spending money and it takes time to truly see a significant profit.
Al Saadi shared that he didn’t want to rely on Sanad (bond) or Intelaka programme because not only was the time provided limiting, the money also must be returned on a specific timeframe which doesn’t leave the business some wiggle room to run it properly.
As a tech firm, there are also no companies within Oman that understands what their product is all about so they have to travel to other Gulf countries to pitch in their idea and solicit support. As the youth of Oman’s knowledge has been growing in leaps and bounds, the same cannot be the said for people running the show and who has the power to support initiatives like that of his company.
He said the problems he faced as a startup could have been easily remedied if: practical guidance for private projects through the provision of continuous and periodic courses and workshops were provided and that established companies in the country especially those in the tech industry provides a helping hand and listen well to the new idea and weigh the credibility of new projects with an open mind.
Abdullah al Shehhi’s business venture, on the other hand, centres around perfumes. With the country rich in raw materials for perfume making (like franckincense and roses), there is a great potential for success if the cards are played well.
Getting the business off the ground was also a challenge sharing that the marketing and promotion was the hardest to work on.
He shared that although the promotion is usually a personal effort, its procedures are very complex and there is no facility for it that provides ample support. He shared, as an example, that if one wants to put an advertisement in a newspaper or television, it costs a lot of money.
Al Shehhi, on his part, shared that these obstacles can be resolved if: the prices of custom houses is cancelled or a fixed price for starting entrepreneur is set that is within their means; areas for promotion is set in every wilayat where advertising is totally free; support from newspapers by allowing free announcements of these new SMEs; and a television programme dedicated mainly in putting into spotlight these new businesses.