Year - 2011

04/06/2011
Sharakah appoints Abdullah Al Jufaili as General Manager

Fund for Development of Youth Projects, also known as Sharakah, announced last Wednesday, the appointment of Abdullah Al Jufaili as the new General Manager.

Having graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 1999 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Managing Information Systems, Al Jufaili started his professional career at Bank Muscat where he enrolled in the Management Trainee program. In 2002 he joined OCIPED –currently known as The General Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development- as an Information Technology Specialist managing the IT infrastructure and promoting foreign investment in the field of Information Communication Technology.

In 2004, he joined Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) and together with his colleagues, he was in charge of launching and managing the first business incubator program, The Knowledge Mine (TKM) he also acted as the IT Manager for The Public Establishment for Industrial Estate (PEIE). In 2006, he was awarded a Chivening scholarship from the British Council and completed his Masters Degree in Managing Information Technology from Salford University in the UK. A year later, he joined Shell Development Oman as Intilaaqah Director, providing support and development for current and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Apart from his direct responsibilities, Al Jufaili was an editor of Digital Oman and a cofounder/editor of Ruwad, the first magazine dedicated towards Small and Medium Enterprises in Oman.

Hani Al Zubair, Chairman, The fund for Development of Youth Projects, said, "Abdullah brings with him a broad range of experience in the SME sector, which will prove particularly valuable to Sharakah. We are delighted to have him on board spearheading this important initiative."

20/03/2011
Sharakah Board invites shareholders for AGM

The Board of the Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah) has invited the shareholders to attend the Annual General Meeting for the fiscal year ending on 31st of December 2010 at Platinum Hotel on April 18.

The meeting will discuss the board of directors’ report for the last fiscal year, study the auditor’s report and elect seven board members for the period of three years. Sharakah’s board of directors has invited all those who wish to nominate themselves for the board membership to fill in the nomination form prepared by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry that could be obtained from the management of the Fund.

The meeting will study ratifying the allowances of attending the board of directors’ sessions and the emanating committees gained by the board members of the Fund during the last fiscal year. It will also determine the allowances of attending the board of directors’ sessions for the current fiscal year that ends on the 31st of December 2011. The meeting will also study appointing the auditors for the current fiscal year.

07/03/2011
Muscat Youth Summit (MYS) Workshop Presenter Interview

Introduction

This is an interview with Abdullah Al Jufaili, who heads up Sharakah (Fund for Development of Youth Projects)

About MYS

Tell us about some of the highlights from your participation in MYS 2010.

I have participated in the 1st and 2nd Muscat Youth Summit and the first thing that I would say is there was a lot of positive energy amongst the participants. I was surprised with the wealth of knowledge coming from the youngsters and their eagerness to learn more. I particularly remember one student who came to me saying “starting a business has always been my dream and this is the first time that I learn how to go about establishing my own enterprise!”

What’s the focus of your MYS workshop?

Similar to last year, I will focus on entrepreneurship development with more emphasis on budgeting and cash flow management for a small business. We will do this using case studies and presenting scenarios from business environment.

What types of conversations and discussions do you hope will emerge during MYS 2011? I would like to see every student asking themselves the question “what would I do differently after this?” and our challenge as speakers will be to make them realize that there is a lot they can do for the betterment of themselves and the community at large.

What do you hope will be the takeaway from your MYS workshop?

I guess I have answered this above

About Youth

How would you describe youth culture in a word?

Morph (what I mean to say its evolving quickly)

What do you think are the main issues facing young people today?

It depends at which age!

  • At a younger age the need to feel that they belong to the crowd
  • The need to be heard and when heard that their views are taken seriously
  • Employment
  • Financial security and fear of uncertain future with all changes happening in the world

The field of youth media is just exploding right now. Where do you see it heading?

I think in few years, majority of people looking for news will search for news in social media and other online sources. A number of examples come to my mind related to this, one of them is when cyclone Phet Oman in 2009. A group of SQU students start a group sharing authentic information about the cyclone. In few hours they managed to have more than 5,000 members in the group and the group was actually the most reliable source of information during the cyclone.

Which brands do you think are best connecting with young people today and why?

  • Technology: Apple – iPhone really changed the way people use mobile devices
  • Online: Facebook – until google+ become more popular facebook will dominate social interaction at different levels
  • Furniture: IKEA – affordable and modern
  • Food: Kelloggs - quick and healthy

What emerging trends do you see within youth culture breaking out soon?

Freedom of expression and freedom of choice. Probably in the past parents or elderly people dictated to a large extent what choices youngsters made for their future. The newer generation is more liberal and prefers to make decision themselves. I also see a strong move towards bridging cultures, youth live in a world of their own where they are not limited to political barriers. I don’t remember having friends from across the globe before I went for college studies, an average youth nowadays will have friends from every continent in the world. This in turn provides an opportunity not to only share cultural values but also share them!

Young people today are ‘chameleons’ changing their look/character based on their environment/people they’re hanging with. Do you agree or disagree?

I say this does not apply to youth only, so yes I agree and I believe the surrounding environment plays a key role in shaping our characteristics.

About You

Tell us about a day in your life and what your work routine is like.

Weekdays, I spend most of my time at work meeting with staff, business partners and clients. I always start my day with a spicy ginger tea, it is rejuvenating and I end it with a cup of plain black coffee while I read business plans or write reports.

What are your insights from working with young people? What’s unique about working with this generation?

Younger people are so curious, they will not settle for a simple plain answers for their questions. You need to explain further. I find that my communication has improved even further due to adopting different communication style for different groups.

What’s something challenging about the work you do?

Maintaining balance between community needs, board expectations and staff requirements.

Do you have any role models or sources of inspiration?

Has always been and would remain the same Prophet Mohammed Peace Be Upon Him.

How has Facebook impacted your life?

Provided a new channel for me to communicate with family, friends and community members.

What`s something concrete and tangible you`ve learned in the last three months?

Even if you are at the top of the pyramid, you need a tap on the shoulder

About Youth Entrepreneurship

What got you interested in youth entrepreneurship?

The fresh and creative ideas that come forward from the younger generation. In addition an opportunity to transform these ideas into profitable business.

What are some of the key problems facing young entrepreneurs today? And how are they being solved?

An answer to this question is a research paper by itself, but I will try to summarize it.

  • In general the process of establishing any business in Oman is very difficult despite all efforts made by MOCI and OCCI!
  • The current financial schemes offered for start-up businesses are not suitable for all entrepreneurs.
  • Barriers to enter (a market mostly dominated by large companies) are very high.
  • There isn’t enough support offered in terms of guidance and skills development for entrepreneurs.
  • There absence of trust in the community for local based business and Omani origin products.
  • Lack of accurate and timely information to develop business plans (information about the market)
  • Absence of role models

With only 0.25% of major commercial banks and MFIs dedicating financial services to youth, there’s no doubt that youth are marginalized. How should we be investing in our youth to promote entrepreneurial activity?

Before we invest in their project, we should invest in building their capacity. Not every is going to end up being an entrepreneur and that is a fact. Those who choose to be need to understand what it takes to establish and run a business.

Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup said: youth financial services aren’t the main factor in promoting entrepreneurship. “Money is easy. Individuals are an energy unit which we have to learn to harness.”

Wow, I am delighted that what I answered above is in line with this statement

Clifton’s sees entrepreneurship to be the result of the perfect mix of optimism and determination. It’s not just optimism – “optimism on its own can be annoying.” However, when you overlay it with determination, then you have something. Is he right?

I agree, but I would say that you also need to add expertise in the field of the activity to the ingredients.

Today’s older generation needs to expose young people to the challenge of carrying the responsibility for driving their country forward and giving them the opportunity to rise to that challenge. Would this approach help boost levels of enterprise and innovation among young people?

Yes

What kinds of policy recommendations would you make to governments to make entrepreneurship easier for youth?

Introduce entrepreneurship in the curriculum

20/02/2011
Sharakah highlights experience in funding SMEs

The Fund for Development of Youth Projects (Sharakah) officials briefed His Excellency Ali bin Masoud Sunaidi, Minister of Sports Affairs and His Excellency Maqbool bin Ali bin Sultan, Minister of Commerce and Industry, and other dignitaries about equity and other means of financial support offered by the Fund to small and medium enterprises owned by Omani entrepreneurs.

The ministers and other dignitaries visited the Sharakah pavillion after inaugurating Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Exhibition and Conference at Oman International Exhibition Centre recently.

Sharakah officials told the dignitaries about efforts exerted by the Fund to acquaint the public about its rich experience in supporting and financing private initiatives that aim at encouraging the Omani youth to establish their own projects.

Dinkar Kishor, Assistant General Manager of Sharakah, said: "Unlike last two years, this year we are showcasing projects that have benefitted from our financial support. This way we would like to reach out to budding entrepreneurs who can learn more about the projects first-hand and also know more about the businesses that have achieved resounding success.”

"By participating in the expo, we do generate a lot of awareness among prospective entrepreneurs who wish to establish own projects in the near future. Sharakah has been receiving a lot of enquiries over the last few months, and we are financing and mentoring a lot more projects than the previous years,” he added.

Al Shaa Al-Lama Trading and Fantasia Art Productions and Distribution are some of the Sharakah beneficiaries who are displaying their products and services at the venue under Sharakah banner. This is a support extended by the Fund.

Ali Al Hashmi, owner of Al Shaa Al-Lama Trading, a company into decoration and modern paint, said: “We have been associated with Sharakah for the last one year, and we are extremely happy with the kind of mentoring they provide from time to time other than financing our project. We source paints from Italy and we are exclusive dealer for a few brands in Oman. Our skilled manpower has the technique of using these paints for interior décor. Our business is picking up, and a lot of credit goes to Sharakah as well.”

Commenting on his business, Zakariya Yahya Al Zadjali, Managing Director of Fantasia Art Productions and Distribution, said: “When we were looking to expand our business by way of procuring latest equipments, Sharakah helped us with funding. What makes it a win-win situation is the kind of counseling we receive from Fund officials to take our business to the next level.”

“We are among a handful of companies into film production in Oman and we hope to attract a few customers during the SME Exhibition and Conference. I thank Sharakah for their continued support,” he added.