Helping Oman’s budding entrepreneurs navigate the tricky world of business

MUSCAT: Growing up in the state of Indiana, in the Mid-West region of the United States where its residents are known as ‘Hoosiers,’ a young farm girl, Emmee Haun, dreamed of being a veterinarian, but the grown up Haun confessed recently that she was even then, “Way too focused on business!”

Educated at the University of Indianapolis, and with an MBA in Arabic and Commerce from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Haun was a former Fulbright Scholar to Oman who returned in 2004 as part of the negotiating team on the Oman/United States Free Trade Agreement, a key partnership agreement between the two nations established to generate export opportunities for American manufacturers and service providers, and to develop Oman’s trade and investment needs.

Now married to James, with two children Owen and Aleya born in the Sultanate, she says, “We stay in Oman due to the high quality of work/life balance, and it’s one of the safest, most beautiful places on earth.” She is acclaimed as a mentor, one entrepreneur writing, “I would highly recommend her to any individual or company wanting to establish themselves commercially in Oman or the wider region.” While an associate praised her business awareness and acumen writing, “Emmee deserves a shout-out, given her constant support of local entrepreneurs and her vision to see Oman’s business ecosystem thrive.”

Haun had created a significant impression during the FTA negotiations and joined the Information Technology Authority as a Specialist Consultant promoting bilateral trade and investment in many diverse commercial sectors. Inspired by travel, and enthused by identifying business opportunities, she admits to a, “Clear focus on making a difference, by opening doors for the youthful Omani entrepreneurial talent,” and is now with the ‘Sas For Entrepreneurship Center,’ providing, as the name suggests from the Arabic ‘asaas’, a solid foundation for new business ventures in the Sultanate.

“We are,” said Haun, “a center that encourages entrepreneurship and development of Technology and Digital Content SMEs in the sultanate in collaboration with both private & public sectors. We work with individuals or teams who either have little more than an idea, or who have reached a situation in their fledgling business where they are ‘uncertain’ how to develop further. For these candidates to enter the program they must present a business plan, and cash flow projections to a panel where they are scored according to predetermined criteria,” continued Haun. “If they are accepted, they begin a three-year journey as part of the Sas program and can utilize the many support services we offer.”

Currently Haun, and the Sas team, have 58 companies as part of their program working initially on the development of business opportunities clearly using Ash Maurya’s ‘lean canvas’ problem/solution model, and progressing through customer/client identification and management, marketing, financial matters, and a myriad of other avenues of support. Sas is, in every way, a one-stop-shop for tech entrepreneurs.

As the future of entrepreneurship in the Sultanate, Haun is adamant. “I see a market that must support local products and services. I can see entrepreneurs learning to assess market opportunities, to test and to pivot to find new and expanding markets. I see technology changing how we do business, and those who adapt quickly reaping the benefits. It is clear too, that Omani women are embracing the modernity of the business world as they are significantly represented among our alumni, and Oman is truly demonstrating itself to be a global model for women in the technologically reliant business environment of the 21st century.”

Emmee Haun is a committed woman herself, voted Oman’s ‘Woman of the Year,’ in 2018, connected and influential, a model and a mentor, for Omanis seeking to plunge into the tricky albeit fascinating, and potentially rewarding, depths of entrepreneurship, making their dreams, realities.