Since the roll-out of Vision 2040, the start-up scene in the Sultanate of Oman has become a hotspot, with many small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) making their way at par with many countries in the world.
The government is building the necessary institutional foundations to address the gaps in SME growth with an array of initiatives in line with the Vision 2040, which aims to achieve wider socio-economic goals for the country.
Accordingly, the current five-year plan features a similar initiative to boost small businesses by offering technical support to promising enterprises. SMEs account for around 15 per cent of GDP, a figure the Public Authority for the Development of SMEs (Riyada) has forecast will double in the medium-term as opportunities are created. The approach adopted by the government of hand-holding small business ideas, owners and innovators has been all-encompassing, targeting various sectors from tourism, science, food and environment to handicrafts, to name but a few.
The small ecosystem in the economy receives unlimited support from the government, having a clear goal with a focus on financing, nurturing, legitimising and building entrepreneurial skills. SMEs are a key contributor to the economic growth of the country, not to mention a source of job creation for the generation.
Oman also encourages the private sector to join it in nurturing the SME ecosystem. The partnership is proving to be a good investment with many funding training, support etc., for Omani entrepreneurs.
The number of new listings at Riyada amounted to 73,741 at a growth rate of 42.7 per cent at the end of March 2022 compared to 51,663 establishments during the same period in 2021.
According to the latest statistics issued by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), Muscat had the largest number of SMEs at the end of March 2022 at 24,977 followed by North Al Batinah with 11,464 establishments and Al Dakhiliyah with 8, 534 establishments at third place.
increase in the number
The statistics showed that Musandam topped the increase in the number of SMEs by 102.1 per cent, followed by Al Wusta, 64 per cent and Dhofar registering an increase of 60.7 per cent. The lowest growth was registered in Al Dhahirah by 31.4 per cent at the end of March 2022 compared to the end of March 2021. Although the SME sector in Oman is hyper-growing with unlimited support from the government, SMEs face the challenge of gaining the desired exposure and connecting in real-time with buyers and sellers locally and across the Mena region.
With the market continuously expanding and the competition exceeding normal limits, businesses see a tremendous drop in growth, especially during the pandemic. Moreover, youth below the age of 29 years constitute over 60 per cent of Oman’s population. At the current level of population growth, the Sultanate of Oman needs to create at least 50,000 jobs annually to reduce unemployment, which is estimated at 15 per cent.
And questions like whether SME initiatives in the country are in sync with the needs of entrepreneurs and are they promoting job creation, growth and development still remain unanswered. Considering the government’s keenness to bring down unemployment rates, it has become imperative to encourage job-seekers to either join the private sector or start their own enterprises.
Thus, it has become imperative that employment opportunities are created to enable young Omanis to establish their own businesses.