The event was attended by executive management from various public and public sector organisations interested in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector, as well as entrepreneurs and SME owners, and representative from the media.
The Direct Support Programme which provides support and advisory to high-potential novice entrepreneurs and young business owners was launched in 2013 by Zubair SEC, a social responsibility initiative of The Zubair Corporation. The Direct Support Programme has so far signed up 38 winners through the past four editions. 10 more winning projects will be announced in February 2018 after the applications go through a multiple-stage evaluation.
In his opening speech Hussam Al Zubair said, “I praise the young Omani entrepreneurs for their perusal and dedication to develop their projects and their continuous efforts to invest time and efforts to secure a successful and sustainable foundation for their projects. Congratulations to all stakeholders for the progressing success in investing in young Omanis who will energies and serve our national economy through their projects.”
He added: “Today, we gather here in Bait Al Zubair Theater to celebrate the launch of the fifth round of the Direct Support Programme. Since the establishment of the Zubair Small Enterprises Centre (Zubair SEC), four years ago, an outstanding growth towards the development of entrepreneurship was achieved alongside the support provided by a number of leading national institutions in the Sultanate. Entrepreneurship requires the right environment to flourish and achieve a rapid development of business. Zubair SEC has diversified its initiatives to prioritize the requirements of small entrepreneurs, and today we renew our commitment to supporting entrepreneurs through the announcement of the fifth round of the Direct Support Programme. The Center also successfully secured a number of agreements in collaboration and partnership with a leading national companies and institutions in the Sultanate to enhance and achieve the objective of continuous support and development of this vital and important sector in the national economy. We are proud of these various partnerships which we believe forge an important cooperation and partnership, under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said”.
The speech was followed by a presentation on the DSP programme by a Zubair SEC team who deliberated on its selection criteria and process, and the progress it has witnessed in the past four rounds.
In his speech Khalid Safi Al Haraibi, Acting CEO of the Public Authority for the Development of SMEs (Riyada) highlighted the cooperation between Riyada and Zubair SEC and the joints goals in supporting SMEs.
Al Haraibi said “As you are well aware, His Majesty the Sultan’s vision has been consistent in emphasizing the importance in collaboration with the End Result of a prosperous and happy society. With this clear vision in mind the cooperation agreement between Riyada & Zubair SEC, enacted more than 3 years ago, focused on the implementation of joint efforts in the 4 main lifecycle phases in the life of SMEs: Instilling entrepreneurship culture; starting up; powering up; and Growth & Excel.”
He added: “currently, the joint teams have translated these efforts into, first, major Research & Development study. We also have complementing consultancy services in areas related to strengthening SMEs competitive advantage, last but not least we are working together to improve the efficiency of the SMEs database.”
Nasser Said Al Hajri, co-founder of Modern Nature World company, and winner of the Direct Support Programme of Zubair SEC in 2015, shared insight about the benefit he received from the cooperation between Zubair SEC and Oasis Logistics. He said “such strategic partnerships between private sector organisations help scale up the impact of the programme and multiply the benefit that members receive. We are grateful for the support we received from Oasis Logistics and Zubair SEC teams in designing, implementing, and advising on how to progress with the new wholesale shop in Bidiyah. They attentive care and support helped us face and handle the challenges that such a new endeavour would face, and we are privileged to have at our side such a distinguished calibre of expertise.”
The Direct Support Programme rewards members who prove through their commitment and applying the consultancy and advice provided to them by the Zubair SEC team. These members’ projects and businesses should also reflect proper strategic planning and accurate feasibility studies that reflect their owners’ eagerness to apply best business administration measures with the assistance of Zubair SEC.
Accordingly, selected members for the Direct Support Programme receive additional direct advisory and consultancy services as well as a financial grant to support their businesses. Although all members of Zubair SEC benefit from advisory and training services, only some members who are selected every year for the Direct Support Programme get the financial grant and extensive advisory support through the programme. This is an approach to create positive competitiveness amongst members and to encourage them to work harder and be more committed and dedicated towards achieving their objectives and ambitions.
The main terms and conditions for applying to the program are: All Omanis are welcome to apply; applicants should have a clear understanding of the type of business they have; applicants need to present a business plan; applicants need to be members at Zubair SEC; non-members are welcome to sign up at the Centre then apply for the Direct Support Programme during the application period; Zubair SEC will accept new applications from current and new members to join the programme and during the months following the launch of the fourth round, projects and the performance of their owners will be assessed accordingly.
The last date to submit applications to enroll in the programme is November 23, 2017.