Government and business teamed up this week to help local companies boost their overseas sales at Ithraa’s Oman Export Week (OEW19).
Held under the auspices of Eng Ahmed al Dheeb, Under-Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, OEW19 workshops gave Omani start-ups and SMEs access to support from international and local experts, helping them understand how to identify and capitalise on opportunities in markets worldwide.
“While quick wins are great and motivating, OEW19 was looking to promote sustained export growth. The five-day programme particularly focused on empowering start-ups, giving them the necessary tools knowledge to take their businesses international,” explained Ishaq al Busaidi, Ithraa’s Director General for Marketing & Media and OEW19 organiser.
For a small business, exporting can seem scary and it is invariably a steep learning curve for any entrepreneur who decides to grow their business through international trade. That said, Ithraa has long encouraged Omani SMEs to accelerate their growth through overseas sales. The good news is that it is not as hard as it seems and there is plenty of help available.
“We’ve been bowled over by the number of companies that attended OEW19. In fact, this is a hugely exciting time for our small business community. It’s more than apparent from attendee feedback that the desire to explore international markets has never been greater,” pointed out Al Busaidi.
Supported by Platinum Sponsor, SV Pittie Sohar Textiles and working alongside Asyad, Madayn, Credit Oman, Riyada, the Industrial Innovation Centre and the Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry, OEW19 workshops covered topics including product design, packaging, logistics, digital marketing, M-commerce and branding.
“From Manchester to Melbourne, there’s a growing demand for world-class products with strong provenance and brand credentials and on that front Oman can compete with the best,” explained OEW19 presenter, Diri Sabesan, Founder of Creative Nerds.
In a fast-paced and competitive world, brands are doing everything they can to stand out and connect with consumers.
“But how many are actually reaching the consumer in a meaningful way?” asks the London-based entrepreneur.
“We all know that today’s belief-driven consumers are only going to respond to brands that show strongly held, passionate beliefs in their behaviour, marketing and communications.” It is also important, points out Sabesan, that today’s sophisticated consumers want a two-way relationship with brands.
“They don’t just want to know who you are, what you stand for and what your brand story is, they want to be part of that story.” Research indicates that millennials and Gen Z are increasingly investing in brands that have a rich community with a strong, interactive and engaging social presence.
“Companies that are looking to trade beyond Oman’s borders have to be relevant,” explained Sabesan.
Indeed, a message that was threaded through every OEW19 workshops was that with an endless source of information at their disposal, global consumers are more empowered than ever. And with one click, they can choose to avoid one brand and choose another that is more meaningful to their needs or more relevant to their lives. Relevance is key to the consumer.