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The Omani Entrepreneur


An entrepreneur is a celebrity, a real hero, who creates wealth not just for oneself, but for the community as well


We grew up admiring those haloed heroes who valiantly fought demons and dragons and saved lovely princesses in the nick of time. Much later, though, we realized to our utter disappointment that life is not a fairy tale, and not even fair at times. However, across societies and countries, the quest for heroes — who challenge the status quo and enhance the lives of people around them — continues.

Today entrepreneurial skills are considered a modern-day equivalent of the warrior skills of mythological heroes. An entrepreneur is a celebrity, a real hero, who creates wealth not just for oneself, but for the community as well. And, it’s not always the case that entrepreneurs are born with innate skills; we can in fact develop them.

The Global Entrepreneur Week (GEW) initiative was born out of the realization that a stimulating environment can create entrepreneurs out of ordinary people. It is designed to help countries set up powerful engines of economic growth through viable start-ups. Every year, in November, diverse events and competitions are held across as many as 170 countries towards igniting entrepreneurial spark in millions of people. GEW participants get to connect with an empowering ecosystem consisting of potential collaborators, entrepreneurs, researchers, mentors, policymakers, start-up leaders and investors.

The project is powered by the Kauffman Foundation, and has the active support of world leaders and a network of 15,000-plus partner organisations. This year GEW is scheduled from November 12-18.

Encouraging innovative start-ups is one of the key objectives of GEW. Towards this, it hosts boot camps such as Startup Weekend and global competitions such as Startup Open. Startup open aims to recognize new and promising start-ups. Future Agro-challenge targets innovators and investors in the agricultural sector towards revolutionizing agriculture in specific countries. A free monthly programme called Startup Huddle provides a platform for entrepreneurs to learn, engage and connect with other entrepreneurs, allowing them to pitch their start-up ideas, discuss challenges and crowd-source solutions. Meanwhile, such initiatives offer academic institutions ample opportunities to commercialize their lab research.

Entrepreneurial week is also an occasion for policymakers and think-tanks to explore and design policies necessary to promote entrepreneurial growth in countries. Special sessions such as EO24 organised by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization help fresh entrepreneurs and youths gain useful insights from highly successful entrepreneurs, while a series of training programmes offer them essential entrepreneurial skills to succeed and expand.

The GEW Creative Business Cup is a global competition of creativity and viability of ventures in the creative industries sector. Get in the ring, on the other hand, allows start--ups to compete and secure international business exposure and patronage.

The Sultanate has been promoting entrepreneurship as a tool of self-empowerment. It views GEW as a key platform to significantly drive entrepreneurship in the country. The National Business Centre (NBC), an arm of the Sultanate’s Public Establishment for Industrial Estates, has lined up a series of events for the sixth edition of GEW in the country, and will be held under the theme ‘Failure taught me’, at the Knowledge Oasis Muscat.

Omani entrepreneurs will share their success stories and highlight how failures can be stepping stones to success. The SME clinic will offer consultancy services for Omani SMEs, while Mashura event is designed to enhance awareness about entrepreneurship and its rewards. Employment challenges related to SMEs and business opportunities will be taken up at the Reyooq session. Other key sessions include a networking event, a workshop on investment readiness and an SME exhibition.

Notably, the Sultanate has several women entrepreneurs who have successfully created enduring brands with an innovative approach and strategic business vision. They have won several recognitions as well. Against this backdrop, NBC recently hosted a roundtable involving Omani women entrepreneurs and experts from the EU-GCC Dialogue on Economic Diversification project, aimed at facilitating a better understanding of the specific challenges faced by female entrepreneurs including business growth constraints, and finding new international markets such as the European Union for Omani SME products and services.

The EU-GCC Dialogue on Economic Diversification project is financed by the European Union. The NBC event succeeded in facilitating rewarding interactions among key stakeholders and defining actions and deliverables to boost the growth of SMEs run by Omani women.

Clearly, entrepreneurship is catching on in the Sultanate across genders with great vigour, thanks to the government ensuring a stimulating business environment. Indeed, Oman, known for its daring seafarers of yore, is also emerging as a land of heroic entrepreneurs.

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