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SMEs in Oman need to focus on strategic planning

MUSCAT, May 5 - The Gulf region, especially Oman, is a highly fertile land for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as the support from the government and the ease of doing business are high, thanks to the policies of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It’s little wonder that the number of SMEs in the country has been on a steady increase. According to statistics released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), there are more than 32,000 SMEs registered in the Sultanate till last year. Most of them are initiated by local youth and range from traditional cake making to big industrial organisations.

However, Omani SMEs need to sharpen their focus on strategic planning to succeed in what they do without which existence would be in question, according to the executive director of the Pearl Initiative.

“The region is highly fertile for SMEs and they see the value for the present and future. However, lack of strategy and planning is affecting the SME,” says Yasmine Omari, Executive Director, Pearl Initiative.

Pearl Initiative was formed in 2010 by prominent business leaders from across the Gulf region to create a non-profit vehicle for the private sector to collectively take a lead in adopting higher standards in business.

Speaking to the Observer in an exclusive interview, Omari added that these firms should have a clear idea as to what works and what doesn’t, and that should be the focal point before drafting a corporate strategy.

“Having assessed SMEs across the region, I believe that the SMEs in Oman have huge room for growth and improvement provided they work on transparency and strategy which can boost goodwill.”

This underlines the fact that last year alone, as many as 606 SMEs were registered by the Publuc Authority for the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises, bringing the total number of SMEs to 32,441.

“Yet another issue with the SMEs is the funding part, which is a huge impediment and newer sources of funding can really support the SMEs in the country. The government’s support to the sector can help you secure more funds and entering into contracts with bigger companies is another mode of fundraising,” she adds.

Pearl Initiative is in the process of conducting a number of private workshops and initiatives in partnership with a number of Oman-based private businesses to boost positive practices in corporate governance covering a wide range of industries such as SMEs, family businesses and investment firms.

She further said that the support extended by the Omani government to family businesses is laudable, and thus it can take their future to greater heights given the fact that student engagement element has also been in focus.

“Family businesses are thriving in the country as the scions of such organisations are abreast of what’s happening around the world, and are fine-tuning themselves to the changing needs of the present generation. Having said, there are many risks facing family businesses and the first such is transition of the ownership of business from the previous generation to the present generation. Having more members in a family too poses a challenge,” said Yasmine.

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