Year - 2017

31/07/2017
Sharakah conducts a workshop for Khazzan Program beneficiaries

Sharakah conducted a workshop yesterday for the beneficiaries of Khazzan Project for SME Development. The workshop covered the importance of social media and Taiseer Business Platform. 20 SME business owners attended the workshop.

Abdullah Al Jufaili – General Manager, Sharakah welcomed the participants and stated that this workshop is part of the BP Khazzan Project for SME Development program. He mentioned that the project is one of BP Oman Social Investment Programs. The objective he mentioned is to develop and scale up the capabilities of the business owners. Al Jufaili thanked the speakers for dedicating time out of their busy schedule and sharing their experiences with the SMEs.

The workshop included a presentation about “How to use social media effectively” delivered by Mr. Said Al Busaidi, a Social Media Expert. The workshop included detailed explanation about social media and its importance in promoting SMEs products and services. Al Busaidi also talked about the importance of having a social media strategy, building a social media brand and identifying the right social media channel for the target market.

Mr. Waleed Al Musalhi, Consultant at Taiseer Platform further delivered a session about the platform and SME opportunities in Expo 2020. He highlighted the benefits of registering at Taiseer Platform and encouraged SME owners to register. He then talked about Expo 2020 and emphasized the importance of registering at the events website for opportunity to supply goods and services.

At the conclusion of the workshop, Mrs. Zuwaina Al Badaai – SME Development Manager at Sharakah said: “Khazaan Project for SME Development has achieved great success in the last 3 years and we highly value the trust of BP Oman invested in us to manage and supervise this program. To date we have supported 62 SMEs from various governorates in Oman. We are aiming to further enhance and shape up the skills of the entrepreneurs along with strengthening their capabilities through such workshops.”
13/07/2017
Sharakah Shares its Experience at a Conference in South Korea

Sharakah amongst other leading innovation and entrepreneurship development organizations in Oman received an invitation from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) to attend the 2017 Global Commercialization Conference and Workshop held in Daejeon, South Korea. The Conference and Workshop are held under the theme of “Global Commercialization for Innovative Development”. The conference will be a platform for participants to discuss the current situation, challenges and advancements relating to the global collaboration for technology transfer and commercialization.

During the event, Sharakah will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Korean Global Commercialization Center to implement active cooperation in the field of technology commercialization between Sharakah and KAIST GCC.

Sharakah will also deliver a presentation about the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in Oman along with the services that Sharakah offers. The presentation will be delivered by Mr. Dinkar Kishor, Deputy General Manager of Sharakah.

Commenting on this, Mr. Dinkar Kishor, Deputy General Manager of Sharakah said: “We are delighted to be invited to attended this prestigious event as we believe it is indeed a valuable opportunity to collaborate with international organizations on developing the technology commercialization. We thank KAIST GCC for this opportunity and looking forward to fruitful results.”

A representative of KAIST GCC also commented by saying: “We thank Sharakah for being our partner towards developing the technology commercialization and we believe their efforts, knowledge and experience in the field of startups and incubations are of high value to ensure achieving the targeted objectives.”

11/06/2017
Sharakah Announced New Funding Limit of OMR 350,000

Adapting to changes in the economic environment and to be inline with the market demand, Fund for Development of Youth Projects SAOC (Sharakah) announced yesterday on its social media accounts some updates related to their regulations and norms. Starting from 1 July, 2017.Sharakah will increase its fund limit from OMR 200,000 to 350,000. Few other changes have also been introduced including a reduction in the interest rate for the Bill Discounting Scheme and increase in the credit period.

Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah commented further “Every year we conduct a survey that is distributed to all our clients where we assess their level of satisfaction to the services offered to them. We always invite them to suggest areas for improvement. The changes that we are introducing now are in response to those suggestion, changes in the market and to be in line with our long-term objectives. Starting July of this year, we are going to increase the fund limit to OMR 350,000 from what has been OMR 200,000. The minimum amount for financial support will also be increased from OMR 10,000 to OMR 25,000. We believe that this will help us achieve our objective of supporting growth stage businesses. The new finance limit will also allow us to tap into the manufacturing sector as light manufacturing has been identified as one of the sectors that has great potential in Oman’s economy.”

He added ”We are also introducing changes in the credit period for Bill Discounting. It used to be 90 days and we are increasing it to 120 days. We know that SMEs have challenges in maintaining a positive cash flow. Some of them supply to large organizations and it takes a long time for them get paid back. We have also reduced the interest rate for the Bill Discounting Scheme.”

To date, Sharakah has invested more than OMR 6 million in SMEs. More than 150 projects have received financial support and guidance to help them grow the business. Some of the projects supported have grown in market size and customer base. Sharakah stays committed in ensuring that SMEs grow nationally and expand regionally.

05/06/2017
Big Projects Ahead for a Beneficiary of Khazzan Project for SME Development

Al-Mahri Industrial Enterprise, one of the SMEs beneficiaries of Khazzan Project for SME Development has recently been awarded a contract with Carillion Alawi. Al-Mahri Engineering specializes in producing Type B & C fences for which are made of woven steel wire and they are the most commonly used type of fences.

Nasser Al-Mahri started this business back in 2015 at the aim of making it amongst the leading companies that provides fencing solutions in Oman. He started the business using his own savings and some income that he made from other businesses he owned. Being one of the beneficiaries of the Khazzan Project for SME Development, Nasser expresses his gratitude saying: “I have enrolled in the BP Khazzan Project for SME Development to benefit from the wealth of advice and guidance by the experts in Sharakah. So far, they have helped me in identifying the areas that needs improvement, structuring a monthly status report and developing a projected cash flow for 2017. I appreciate the guidance and support offered by BP and Sharakah and I believe that they will help me be on the right course to grow.”

The Carillion Alawi contract is a major success for Nasser as this is first major project for Al-Mahri Engineering.

The Khazzan Project for SME Development is one of BP Oman’s Social Investment Programs. The project has been managed by Sharakah for the last 3 years. It aims at evaluating SMEs performance and providing them guidance and consultation whilst monitoring their performance for 12 months. In 2017, the project is targeting 24 SMEs. All SMEs undergo a process of evaluating their performance, identifying key improvement areas, developing an action plan, developing cash flow and marketing & communications plan.

Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager, Sharakah said “the best rewards that we can ever get from a client is seeing their business prospering. Nasser is amongst 24 other business owners who have enrolled in the program for this year. I must say that they are keeping us busy by being forthcoming with information and requests for further guidance. We take pride and joy in supporting SMEs and we wish them growth and sustainability to contribute towards socioeconomic development.”

Mr. Shabib Al Maamari, Communication and External Affairs Manager, BP Oman who visited the company to assess its progress, expressed his satisfaction of the progress made: “We are glad to see that Khazzan Project for SME Development is having a positive impact on SMEs. For such initiative to succeed there is a need for a strong commitment from the business and a dedicated mentor to guide them on the best practices. We are glad to see that businesses as such are improving their performance and have the potential to grow.”
29/05/2017
Sharakah inks collaboration with Al Musanna College of Technology

Sharakah has signed yesterday a cooperation agreement with Al Musanaa College of Technology, represented by the establishment of Entrepreneurship Cell in Al Musanaa College of Technology (ECACT). The agreement was signed by Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah and Dr. Issa Saif Al Toubi, Dean of Musanaa College of Technology.

The agreement aims to further strengthen the ties between Sharakah and ACT, by providing a mechanism to share experience about entrepreneurship with the students. . It also aims at providing guidance to students who are interested in starting their own business, on how to go about.

Commenting on this Dr. Issa Saif Al Toubi said: “We are delighted to have signed this agreement as we believe that Sharakah’s support and input is of high value. With Sharakah’s support we will achieve our objectives, and we hope this fruitful cooperation would continue to improve the ECACT.”

Umaima Al Ghadani, Investment Manager at Sharakah and the person who will be responsible of supervising the implementation of this agreement said “We believe it is a valuable opportunity to establish this collaboration with ACT. Educational institutions are important elements in the SME ecosystem. It is vital that we educate youngsters at an early stage about entrepreneurship and provide guidance to those who seek to establish their own enterprises.”

22/05/2017
Ice Cream Mama launches a special offer!

Ice Cream Mama, the locally developed franchise and the pioneer in producing traditional Omani ice creams and sweets is launching a special offer for its customers which reminisces the old days. Starting this month Ice Cream Mama customers would have an opportunity to have a second serving for free!

Explained by the founder of Ice Cream Mama, Rami Al Lawati who said “when we were young, elder women use to make this ice cream in the neighborhood and bring joy to kids. We stand by the essence of our business model which is to bring joy to all our customers. As such, we offer free ice cream to lucky customers who will find the word “FREE” on their ice cream wooden stick. This offer is valid in all our four branches.”

Ice Cream Mama is one of the local made franchise who has witnessed a growth in the past 3 years. They have started with 1 branch only and now they have 5 branches and a central factory which feeds all the branches with the fresh ingredients made. Commenting on this recent offer Zuwaina Al Badai, SME Development Manager at Sharakah said “

"We are proud of Ice Cream Mama for taking the street image to a step forward in growth. The product is an excellent source of energy and the passion and dedication of the owners is remarkable. Indeed, the unique business concept has strengthened over the past few years and is now solid as a franchise model.”

It is worth mentioning that Ice Cream Mama has expanded its scale of operations where now it owns a full-fledged factory that produces over 20 flavors of the traditional Omani ice creams in addition to various sweets, with four branches making it possible for the target customers to enjoy the high-quality products offered.
18/05/2017
Sharakah Concludes “Ruwad Sharakah” Event

Sharakah concluded its second edition of “Ruwad Sharakah” event at Crowne Plaza Muscat hotel on Tuesday 17th of May 2017 as Mr. Neil Petch, Chairman of Virtugroup was the guest speaker. The event was presided by Mr. Hani M. Al Zubair, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sharakah and attended by Sharakah’s Board Members, Staff and more than 50 entrepreneurs’ beneficiaries of Sharakah.

Commenting on this, Mohamed Al Lawati, Marketing Specialist at Sharakah said “We believe that creating a platform for our supported SMEs or how we would prefer to call them “Ruwad Sharakah” to meet and discuss their businesses is of high importance. It’s a great networking and learning platform where business owners can share expertise, exchange information and possibly execute business deals.”

Neil Petch shared his excitement of seeing so many Omani small business owners and appreciated the advancement Oman has witnessed in the past 5 years in the SME ecosystem. He also commented that the whole region has seen a positive move in SME development and pointed out the opportunities SMEs would have with growing need for technological solutions.

Amongst the entrepreneurs who attended the event is the founder and owner of New Rusayl Heights, Ms. Huda Al Saadi who commented “We have been with Sharakah since the early operations of our company which has witnessed a major growth over the past 3 years. We appreciate the opportunity Sharakah has given us to network with other SMEs. This has been a great event and we encourage Sharakah to do more of this.”
28/02/2017
Sharakah inks cooperation agreement with Al Madina Insurance Company
Al Madina Insurance Company and Sharakah signed an agreement yesterday which which aims to further benefit the small and medium enterprises in Oman.  According to the agreement, the small and medium enterprises supported by Sharakah will benefit from three main services from Al Madina Insurance Group, which are preferred Insurance rates on insurance for SME customers of Sharakah, dedicated Service and Focal point specially designated by Al Madina Insurance Company and one-stop insurance solution for the SMEs supported by Sharakah. Furthermore, both companies will jointly conduct SME insurance awareness programs from time to time with mutual consent.



The agreement was signed by Mr. Ajay Srivastava, Chief Operating Officer of Al Madina Insurance Company and Abdullah Al Jufaili, Sharakah’s General Manager.

Commenting on the agreement, Mr. Ajay Srivastava, Chief Operating Officer of Al Madina Insurance Company said “We are glad to sign this agreement with Sharakah as we believe in offering customized services to further benefit the small and medium enterprises in Oman and we look forward for a fruitful collaboration.”

Sharakah’s General Manager, Abdullah Al Jufaili was pleased to sign the agreement and he said “We are happy to sign the agreement with Al Madina Insurance Company as we believe in adding more value to the SMEs. The mutual benefits will smooth the development of SMEs in general and those supported by Sharakah will have easier ways of having insurance.”
25/01/2017
Sharakah receives Golden Plate of Excellence award
Sharakah was recently awarded "Golden Plate of Excellence" in the field of social responsibility from the Arab Organization for Social Responsibility.
The prestigious international award was conferred upon Sharakah by the Arab Organization for Social Responsibility in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Arab Organization for Social Responsibility is a non-governmental organization working with the states members of the league of Arab states to raise awareness about the concept of social responsibility regionally through workshops and conventions. The excellence award is given as encouragement for the organizations in the field of social responsibility and shed the light on successful examples across the region.
Sharakah was nominated for the award based on the clear visibility of the concept of social responsibility in the organization`s objectives, its participation in activities related to social responsibility such as job creations for Omanis and also establishing small and medium enterprises and its development as it is of high importance to further enhance the national economy from the socio-economic perspective, which will contribute to increasing the competitive capabilities to the organizations overall.
The organization is self-sustainable through varies practices; a financial investment is allocated for each year to support the small and medium enterprises and to cover the costs. The remaining amount is put for investing in other programs ensuring the self-sustainability. This was achieved through the actual growth of the assets from OMR 6.3 million since incorporation to approximately OMR 9 million by the end of 2016. Since Sharakah is non-for-profit organization, the revenues are invested in the development of the small and medium enterprises. In the past seven years, Sharakah has supported 103 projects wroth of OMR 4.3 million and aims to support more projects each year,
Sharakah is an ISO certified organization since 2010, applying best practices to ensure that they serve the entrepreneurs in an efficient manner. In 2016, Sharakah provided financial support to 16 projects with investments exceeding OMR 800,000.
During the award`s ceremony, Mohamed Al Lawati, Marketing Specialist said: "We are honored to receive this prestigious award from the Arab Organization for Social Responsibility, which motivates and drives us to put in more efforts towards the development of SMEs and applying the concepts of social responsibility. We thank the organization for recognizing our efforts and for also organizing this ceremony."
04/01/2017
SMEs also hit by payment delays, cash-flow woes
Omani small and medium enterprises (SME) can take heart from the government`s pledge, articulated in the newly unveiled 2017 State Budget, to address their funding and cash-flow challenges - part of a litany of woes that have weighed down small businesses in the Sultanate in 2016.
The Budget Statement affirms a commitment to supporting speedy payments to SMEs, as well as meeting their funding needs through soft loans from Al Raffd Fund and Oman Development Bank. It also reiterates a pledge to support small businesses by allocating a percentage of government contracts to SMEs.
It is now evident that delayed payments, cash-flow constraints and limited access to credit - the bane of the contracting sector in Oman for the past two years - are also hurting small businesses in a significant way.
Abdullah Al Jufaili, General Manager of Sharakah, a closed joint stock company set up by a Royal Decree to support SMEs, says it`s been relatively tough-going for small businesses. "2016 hasn`t been a very good year for SMEs in the light of the economic situation," he said, nothing that payment delays have been part of the challenges faced by small firms.
"At the moment, some of these (outstanding) payments have exceeded 120 days, which really poses serious liquidity challenges for SMEs. Ideally, payment terms should not exceed 60 days, if possible even 30 days. in order for an SME to have the cash flow to be able to pay their salaries, expenses, rent and so on."
Access to banking credit, which the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) has stipulated should not be anything less than 5 per cent of lender`s total credit, is also proving problematic for SMEs, said Al Jufaili. "Quite honestly, banks have (not been forthcoming) with funding support during the past six months. Since June, some banks have been very selective than before in proving credit. But I would rather wait for the CBO to come up with its assessment of the size of lending to SMEs for this year, compared to 2015."
Also getting short-shrift is the stipulation that 10 per cent any government contract should be outsourced to SMEs as a way of supporting small businesses. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this provision is not being fully met, according to the official.
 
Nevertheless, enforcing this provision fraught with challenges on both sides of the equation, Al Jufaili explains. "Sometimes the (main contractor), even if they would like to commit to SMEs, they would find it difficult because they are bound by their commitment to the clients to deliver on quality and efficiency, and on time within budget. So we need to work on this problem at both ends, firstly by encouraging large contractors to outsource part of their services to SMEs, and secondly by helping the SMEs themselves to upgrade their operational output and quality performance."