SME Beyond Borders is all set to make history again – this time in the fortuitous setting of Oman. This will be the first occasion addressing the full spectrum of challenges and opportunities within the SME sector. In the following feature, we give you a preview of this world-class SME forum…016

Oman is increasingly a key fulcrum of innovation, debate and commercial development in the SME sector – in many cases becoming the regional champion of SME evolution.

For nearly a decade, the SME sector in Oman has been the main focus of government attention as a catalyst for economic change, international outreach and the principle beacon of the nation’s transformation to a highly contemporary diversified economy. The Central Bank of Oman has identified four key sectors as the paradigms of SME opportunity, namely –

  • Transport and Infrastructure
  • Manufacturing
  • Healthcare
  • Tourism

The essential debates and dialogues of SME Beyond Borders focus on delivering opportunities in these sectors and spelling out how best entrepreneurs can manifest the required changes and turn them into commercial success.

The agenda of SME Beyond Borders follows a framework that has not only been identified by government agencies as the crucial way forward, but also results from the detailed findings of round tables and discussion groups. These were specifically organised to capture the key concerns of SME owners and directors, identifying the workable opportunities and solutions, as well as the timeframes and practicalities to which they are bound.

Mark your calendar: Two days of intense, practical discussions

SME Beyond Borders – Oman Chapter is a dramatic arena for ground-breaking content, advice and discussion. The event is structured across two key elements –

  • A day dedicated to seminal Round Table discussion, engaging both the public and private sectors and identifying the key topics for research and resolution.
  • A half-day conference where these topics form the core of the agenda, ensuring debate that is relevant, provocative – and always totally on-brief.

Between these two landmark occasions, a comprehensive report will have been generated, documenting the conclusions of the Round Tables and providing a detailed ‘White Paper’, rich in primary data and unique analysis of the SME sector.

Points of view: straight talking across the table

The Round Table events are as follows –

Dialogue One: SMEs in the Public Eye and what Government can do for your business

Government has suggested a number of critical changes for SMEs and their support networks, supplier relationships and commercial frameworks – from reforms in the banking sector through to recommendations of shorter payment cycles when dealing with MNCs and public sector entities. How helpful are these measures in practice and what stage have the changes actually reached? Are there other moves that the public sector could make to benefit SMEs? How can an SME reap the benefits in practice? These factors will be discussed by government representatives and the leading change-makers in the public sector arena.

Dialogue Two: voices from a Private Sector in quest of Empowerment

How does a business effectively liaise with a larger partner involved in keynote infrastructure projects? Are there enough projects of this kind and how are their tenders actually won? How can a company build an effective brand when there is a sad lack of market intelligence and consumer feedback? How can a business obtain finance when only 2.8 per cent of total bank funding went to SMEs in 2013? These are the issues that captains of private sector business and key SME owners and directors will bring to the table – all in quest of resolution.

Understanding the Dynamics of Entrepreneurship

The findings of the Round Tables then form the agenda for a unique conference, featuring two distinctive discussion modules. Each module explores four themes, each comprising brilliant on-stage presentations and debate.

Module One: Government, Economy, Infrastructure – the dynamics of change and how they impact your SME

Tackling the raft of SME issues and imperatives from the ‘top down’, this element of the conference features presentations on four key themes –

  • Public/private sector partnerships – understanding their opportunities, working templates and models of competition
  • The infrastructure agenda – transport logistics, routes to market and the strategies for facilitating both local and pan-GCC business
  • The commercial platform – Government-led initiatives for helping SMEs get finance, shorten payment cycles and ensure that public sector dealings are a two-way street
  • Incubation, encouragement, acceleration – what the Government’s SME champions can do for your business, and how

Module Two: Training for success: how to deliver results and transform change into profitability

This module again embraces four keynote themes, each reflecting the spectrum of real-world dilemmas and challenges, so imperative for SMEs to confront and overcome.

  • Becoming a brand leader – building competitive advantage, the dynamics of local branding and the challenge of the regional marketing agenda
  • The growth imperative – how Oman’s SMEs can collate market intelligence and boost expansion across borders
  • Understanding infrastructure – leveraging the public sector initiatives and using transport and distribution innovations to your advantage
  • Closing the skills gap – sourcing the senior personnel who understand the ‘new agenda’ across finance, risk management and commercial strategy

This is a day of comprehensive and informed guidance, bringing primary data to the help of SMEs and accelerating the progress of business in line with stated Government objectives.

The NBAD Oman Stars of Business Awards – 2015

It’s your turn to shine! Join us on April 30 at the Intercontinental Hotel, Muscat.

Stars of Business has become an iconic awards brand like no other in the GCC. Originally created for the burgeoning SME sector in the UAE, Stars of Business now comes to Oman to honour the foremost success stories in a nation now emerging as a focal point of SME achievement.

Stars of Business will recognise the very best SMEs across 11 key business categories. These awards – specifically tailored to reflect the needs, markets and success stories of businesses in Oman – will use the same methodologies that have already led to them being universally respected as scientifically assessed and unimpeachably judged.

The NBAD Oman Stars of Business Awards will be presented at a glittering gala dinner on the evening of April 30, 2015, at the Intercontinental Hotel, Muscat. Extensively promoted across the press and online media, it will be a ‘who’s who’ of the Oman SME universe, a glamorous evening of networking, followed by gourmet dinner and awards ceremony. Truly a night to remember, guests will include senior government officials, captains of industry – and the owners, directors and managers of the region’s leading SMEs.

Categories

The 11 awards that will be presented to the Oman Stars of Business 2015 are –

  • Oman Star of Transport and Distribution
  • Best Public/Private sector SME partner
  • Best Infrastructure provider/supplier
  • NBAD Star of Manufacturing (Gold)
  • NBAD Star of Manufacturing (Silver)
  • Best SME – Healthcare
  • Best SME – Tourism
  • Best Oman New Business
  • Excellence in Trade
  • Admirable Woman Entrepreneur of the Year
  • Omani Entrepreneur of the Year

The NBAD Oman Stars of Business is an important and ground-breaking occasion for Omani SMEs to shine at what is universally seen as a key time of change and never-before-seen opportunity.

Rushika Bhatia Editor

Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.

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