The National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) is hosting on April 30th a high-level conference to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) identify and capitalise on government initiatives, public/private sector partnerships and business incubation.
The conference will take place at the Al Bustan Palace – Ritz Carlton, Muscat, Oman, in cooperation with CPI Media Group.
According to the Central Bank of Oman, SME firms employ 40 percent of the Sultanate’s total workforce and account for up to 20 percent of the GDP. But they still face significant challenges including lengthy procedures, lack of data and scarce financing. In 2013, for instance, only 2.5 percent of commercial banks’ lending activity went to SMEs, according to the central bank’s latest white paper on the sector.
Titled ‘The Dynamics of Entrepreneurship’ the conference will address these issues and show businesses how to build a strong regional brand and expand across borders. It will offer a rare opportunity for hundreds of internationally recognised thought leaders in the SME space and government officials to meet and think together.
Abdulla Al Otaiba, Senior Managing Director and Group Head of Global Retail and Commercial Banking at NBAD, said: “We believe that SMEs play a critical role in shaping the region’s economic growth and diversification. Medium-sized businesses form the heart of our Commercial customer base, and we are committed to supporting them in innovative ways. This year for instance, in the UAE, we are working to set up dedicated SME skills training programmes to raise the level of their skills that can set them up to run their businesses successfully.”
Mohammed Ba’Omar, NBAD’s Chief Executive Officer in Oman, said: “SMEs are increasingly becoming part of global focus and strategy; the concept of SMEs as corner shop businesses serving purely local customers is changing and now evolving into a clearly defined business line. We recognise them and are fully committed to the SME space, which we see as an indispensable pillar of economic change and rich with growth potential.”
The conference is part of the ‘SME Beyond Borders Summit’, and builds on the findings of the two earlier round tables that involved public and a private sector representatives.
Glamorous awards evening
Following the conference, the NBAD Stars of Business Awards – 2015, an awards gala , will honour the best SMEs in 11 categories: Transport and Distribution, Public/Private partnership, Infrastructure, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Tourism, New Business, Trade, Woman Entrepreneurship, Omani Entrepreneurship. Stars of Business Awards will be a platform which will present successful Omani SMEs during a glamorous evening of recognition and networking. The UAE edition that was held in November 2014 attracted more than 3,000 entries.