Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre is creating many opportunities for the SME sector. The aim is to build a mutually beneficial relationship with SMEs which will provide opportunities to them, saysTrevor McCartney, General Manager, OCEC.
What are the initiatives taken by the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC) to help SMEs develop?
SMEs are already a vital part of the economic fabric of Oman as, in fact, they make up over 90 per cent of the nation’s businesses. They are an important engine for economic growth and provide a successful route to long-term employment especially if entrepreneurs receive the right support and advice in the business start-up phase.
I am delighted to say OCEC will create a wealth of opportunities for Oman’s SME sector, providing the ideal environment to develop businesses and be introduced to a marketplace with a high-potential for growth.
In order to help Oman’s SME community leverage the possibilities that OCEC offers, we first hosted a networking event in co-operation with Omran that was attended by more than 75 entrepreneurs, to explore the various opportunities available. We then went a step further, and through working closely with the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprise Development (Riyada), we began compiling an extensive database of the SMEs and entrepreneurs that could support the operations of OCEC and its clients.
There is definitely mutual benefit – we create the opportunities for local SMEs to develop their businesses and in the process we get a myriad of suppliers on our doorstep and excellent services that meet our needs and the requirements of our clients.
What are the areas of operation identified by OCEC to help SMEs find opportunities?
OCEC presents an opportunity for businesses to develop niche markets with high growth potential. The sectors we are looking at in particular are food and beverage supplies, equipment hire, transportation e.g. coaching, limousines, private hire etc., IT support, design and printing and event production.
We have already begun talking to SMEs that have showcased quality services in priority sectors and have started to compile a comprehensive database of qualified SMEs and entrepreneurs. This will not only support the operations of OCEC but will also be an invaluable service and supplier reference for our clients.
What is your opinion on the state of affairs of the SME sector in Oman at present?
Oman has a vibrant enterprise culture and a fantastic talent pool – there is no doubt about that. There is a high level of enthusiasm and energy from local entrepreneurs with strong support from the government which actively encourages entrepreneurship.
Oman has a number of highly successful initiatives that support and promote entrepreneurship, from The National Business Center, Oman’s flagship incubator program at Knowledge Oasis Muscat; Riyada (The Public Authority for SME Development); The Research Council; Sharakah; Injaz; Oman Development Bank; and the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Oman Chapter – all promoting the enterprise culture. Oman has the necessary ingredients to encourage entrepreneurship.
There is also a keenness for entrepreneurship amongst the young people of Oman with many looking to set up their own businesses. I find this hugely encouraging.
What should SMEs in Oman do to grow more competitive and dynamic?
They need to establish a good network – a network than can give support and advice, a network of like-minded people with whom they can share and explore ideas. They also need to take advantage of the professional support that is offered – like incubators and banking services, and to grasp opportunities – like those offered by OCEC.
I think it is important to understand that a successful business does not have to be a complex one. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. However, it must be done with enthusiasm, energy, with attention to quality, and with a keen eye on the needs and demands of the market. Clients nowadays are becoming more demanding and OCEC will be no exception as we strive to attain new world standards. SMEs that work with us will be expected to deliver quality goods and services on a consistent basis and on time.
What are the future prospects of the SME sector in Oman? What are your plans for the SME sector in the coming days?
I think now more than ever this is a time of opportunity for SMEs in Oman.
OCEC will continue to do all it can to support the SME sector by prioritising engagement with them and providing help and guidance where we can. We are certainly developing more initiatives such as our recent networking event and individual SME engagement.
The Centre opens its doors to the world in 2016 but, already, many opportunities have been created as the OCEC team grows in size and increases its pre-opening activities. We are already using the services of professional and capable local businesses for our current needs. These opportunities will grow as OCEC becomes fully operational.