Bank Sohar SAOG signed a memorandum of understanding with Zubair Small Enterprises Centre (Zubair SEC) to facilitate joint collaboration on financially equipping and supporting Small Enterprise members of the Centre. The agreement was signed on 3 February 2014 at Bank Sohar SAOG headquarters in Ruwi, Muscat.
The agreement signing ceremony was attended by senior members of management from both sides including Dr. Mohamed Abdul Aziz Kalmoor, CEO of Bank Sohar, Mr. R Narasimhan, DGM and Head Retail Banking & Mr. Khalifa Ahmed Al Ghammari, Assistant General Manager for Micro and Small Enterprises at Bank Sohar, Mr. C S Badrinath, CEO of The Zubair Corporation, Mr. Mohammad Al Hasani, Chief Communications Officer of The Zubair Corporation, Mr. K Palanivelu, Chief Financial Officer of The Zubair Corporation, and Mr. Hani Obeid, Acting CEO of Zubair SEC. The MoU was signed by Dr. Mohamed Abdul Aziz Kalmoor and Mr. C S Badrinath.
“In line with the Government’s initiatives and as part of Bank Sohar’s ongoing strategy to support the Small & Medium Enterprises sector in the Sultanate, Bank Sohar is proud to be associated with Zubair SEC in this agreement. This partnership with Zubair SEC is a reflection of Bank Sohar’s continuing efforts to support this sector. The two organisations would be putting forward their respective resources and expertise to work together in the advancement of entrepreneurs in the Sultanate,” commented Dr. Mohamed Abdul Aziz Kalmoor.
Latest studies have proven that the success of small enterprises relies heavily on assisting entrepreneurs in better comprehending the basic elements of business sustainability. Such advice comes through comprehensive business advisory support in all facets of business operations. As such, this agreement between Bank Sohar and Zubair SEC brings the small enterprise clients of Bank Sohar valuable business guidance while equipping them with the various credit facilities that may become available to them.
According to the agreement, Bank Sohar will prioritize funding approvals to all entrepreneurs referred to it by Zubair SEC and that meet the Bank’s approved policy and guidelines. Bank Sohar SAOG will also direct to Zubair SEC entrepreneurs who approach the bank for assistance but lack such sound business knowledge and require business advisory and consultation to complete their business value proposition. A filtering criteria was jointly developed by Bank Sohar and Zubair SEC to give preference to the most credible entrepreneurs for funding. Those entrepreneurs will be better equipped to apply for capital funding and sustain such growth.
In line with the directives of the CBO, Bank Sohar also restructured related divisions within the bank in 2013 to address the needs of a wider range of customers and to take on a more focused approach on domestic business from SMEs. Through this restructure, the Bank now offers the entire gamut of services to assist its customers and has talented and well-trained consultants that are capable of guiding budding entrepreneurs on what financial services most efficiently meet their desired requirements. This adds further impetus to existing initiatives from Bank Sohar to support the SME community.
“We believe it is our endeavour as a private sector to promote and empower small enterprises to contribute to the growth and sustainability of the Omani economy, and as such augment the efforts of the Government. For over four decades, The Zubair Corporation has been empowering local talent and bringing new business ideology from around the world. The Zubair Small Enterprises Centre is our latest contribution through the advancement of the next generation of Omani business people. With now 70 member companies and over 100 entrepreneurs, the Zubair SEC continues to service and to promote small enterprises”, commented Mr C S Badrinath.
Mr. R Narasimhan, DGM and Head Retail Banking at Bank Sohar mentioned, “In acknowledgement of the fact that a growing SME sector is vital for economic diversification which will in turn enhance employment opportunities for talented Omanis, this association with a not-for-profit concern such as Zubair SEC is a strategic move. As a commercial bank, this partnership will ensure that we can fund projects that have been vetted by experts at the Zubair SEC and also share learnings by referring candidates for advisory support. Bank Sohar’s retail banking division also has a dedicated micro and small business department which has been promoting small entrepreneurs and businesses across the Bank’s 25 branches.”
Through this collaboration, Bank Sohar and Zubair SEC touched on one of the most common pains of entrepreneurs in Oman; entrepreneurs who lack sound business capacities and fall short on acquiring their initial capital requirements due to a lack of proper documentation and business presentation approaches. So while banks are ready to finance entrepreneurs as part of their business mandate/objectives, they are challenged with high risks of extending their financing services to entrepreneurs operating on what seems to be “shaky” business grounds.
“This is where the role of Zubair SEC comes to be of highly-needed value; the Centre’s mandate is to work closely with its entrepreneur members, equipping them and advising them on best business practices by defining solid and well-designed business strategies, feasibility studies, marketing development plans, risk management plans, to name a few, which make entrepreneurs more attractive to financial institutions when applying for credit facilities”, commented Mr. Hani Obeid – Acting CEO of Zubair SEC.