The National Business Centre (NBC) which falls under the umbrella of the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) is incubating successful models of Small and Medium Enterprises which are continually growing and expanding further aiming at contributing to the advancement of the Sultanate. Among these successful models are Al Salama Fire Engineering Consultancy of its founder Hilal Al Rawahi, and Taraneem Design of its owner Sumaiya Al Ghaithi.
Those who have passion for entrepreneurship should work hard, each in his own field, and eventually reflect the positive outcomes of the efforts on the country, Al Rawahi stressed. Hilal Al Rawahi says Al Salama Fire Engineering Consultancy was established in 2014 to be one of the consultancies that are registered and approved by the civil defence and is specialised in designing buildings to meet the requirements of Fire Hazard Prevention Department at the Directorate General of Civil Defence along with NFPA codes which are used for life safety and protection of buildings from fire loss.
“The presence of a group of old companies is still dominating over the SMEs. I hope a specialised committee for the SMEs will be activated in the right method to enhance the spirit of cooperation in the various fields,” Al Rawahi said, adding: “By joining the National Business Centre, we are receiving various and significant types of support including having field visits, being introduced to the mega companies and enhance relations, and attending training courses and guidance programmes.”
However, he noted that the field of SMEs in Oman faces a lack of manpower, visas, material support and counseling support to start the projects. “The funding programmes introduced by the public and private sectors are supportive. However, they take more time than required to be delivered. Myself I did not need to approach these programmes, but I can outline the obstacles from my colleagues in the field. Nevertheless, those who have received the support have undoubtedly and positively got benefited,” Al Rawahi emphasised.
Following passion leads to productivity and success
On her part, Sumaiya Al Ghaithi, owner of Taraneem Design, believes that if the Omani youth follow their passion, productivity will get boosted in various fields. Holding master degrees from the UK and the US, Sumaiya is known as an interior designer and a talented business woman. Describing her passion for design, Sumaiya says, “I have been a designer all my life even before I opened Taraneem Design doors. Design is running in my blood.”
Every entrepreneur’s journey starts at a certain point of time. Sumaiya says there was no much plan prior to her decision. “I let go of my old self and jumped right in. I would contribute that to my random personality, as I am very logical person yet my actions are driven by my passions. I was not happy working for the government, so my conclusion was, dont. I resigned my high pay government position and left to London to study design and gain work experience where I received high compliments on my mini projects,” she pointed out.
While facing certain challenges, Sumaiya never gave up until Taraneem Design turned into a reality. “We are specialised in commercial and high end residential interior design to create luxurious functional spaces. I plan to increase my skills level and the size of the projects I design and manage. I also aspire to build a working environment with a good team where we feel like we are playing a meaningful role in people’s lives. In five years, I would love to have designed a hotel,” she said.
Taraneem Design is a start-up incubated at the National Business Centre (NBC) that falls under the umbrella of the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE). “Every company has a different concept on the need and purpose of joining NBC. I found a mentor in the person of Malak Al Shaibani, director general of NBC,” Sumaiya noted.
Sumaiya strongly believes that the government is doing its best in supporting SMEs, in terms of regulations. However, she says, it will take time for the processes of these regulations to be put in place and practice so that the SMEs will actually feel the fruitfulness of the government’s support. “The biggest hurdle that I believe new business owners face in general is the time that it takes to get the business up and running and then earning profits. I was no different; however, I think it was harder for me because I had a mindset of a designer rather than a mindset of a business woman. The most challenging part for me was gaining clients and projects, and finding enough time to accomplish goals,”
“Over the years, I needed to develop an identity that differentiated me from others. To overcome the challenges I faced, I received strong, immediate and extended family support, besides I am blessed to be able to read and understand people,” she emphasised.
Today, significant help is available to support SMEs. “The problem lies in how slow it reaches the individual. Bureaucracy can lead to a lot of lost opportunities. Additionally, manpower laws seem to be in favour for bigger companies than SMEs. Myself, I got a loan from Rafad. It was a boost to my company as it made me capable of paying for employees with better experience, which in return reflected on the kind of projects I was able to accept,” Sumaiya added.
When asked on the kind of efforts she undertakes to develop her work, Sumaiya had this to say, “I try to rub shoulders with other architects and designers. I also seek any opportunity for seminars or courses. I also do a lot of reading to better understand materials and processes that would benefit my work.”
NBC is an initiative of the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates aiming at offering promising Omani entrepreneurs a platform to develop their business ideas and advance them into growing ventures. The centre provides business development support and guidance, training and mentoring, access to markets and industry experts, and state-of-the-art and fully equipped office space, meeting rooms and presentation facilities.