Zubair SEC hosts a meetup for SME-Support programmes in collaboration with Badir
Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Zubair Small Enterprises Centre (Zubair SEC), and in collaboration with Business Incubators and Accelerators Company (BIAC) in KSA, hosted a meeting for SME support organisations, which was attended by a number of organisations and programmes from the Sultanate and neighbouring countries.

BIAC through Badir Program for technology incubators runs such meetups every quarter in different countries in the region, and Zubair SEC has been actively attending for the past few years, and hence hosted the meetup in its fourth round. The meetup, an initiative by Badir, aims at creating dialogue amongst SME support organisations and share experiences and insight in supporting startups and SMEs. It also seeks to create synergies and collaboration between the various SME and entrepreneurship support programmes in the region, which will enhance opportunities for SMEs to access different neighbouring markets and achieve cross-selling amongst themselves.

The meetup was followed by two workshops on Mapping SME Support Ecosystems, and Measuring Ecosystem Impact, conducted by Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship (ECE), one of the leading entrepreneurship development organisations in the Netherlands, and in partnership with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Muscat. The workshops aim at building capacity in the area of SME support, and ecosystems growth, in addition to measuring impact on programme level, and overall ecosystem level. 

The first day agenda started with opening remarks by BIAC on SME support in the region, followed by presentations on various experiences in SME support, and two sessions on accessing Omani and regional markets for SMEs. Yousuf Al Harthi, CEO, Oman Technology Fund (OTF) spoke about their experience in supporting and investing in tech-startups inside and outside the Sultanate. Martin Luxemburg, Managing Director of Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship shared insight on the Dutch experience in supporting startups and developing entrepreneurship ecosystems. Mohammed Al Tawash, CEO, Corporate Hub9 (CH9 Bahrain) gave a presentation about collective SME support and main issues faced by startups and scale-ups. And Muhanna’ Al Sinai, Investment Promotion Specialist, Ithraa spoke about investment and doing business in the Sultanate. Also during the meetup, Zubair SEC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Badir to collaborate in extending support to SMEs in the Sultanate and KSA, mainly in matter of facilitating access to market and cross selling between them.

The agenda was concluded by a trip to some of the leading startup support programmes in the Sultanate, including the National Business Centre, SAS, Oman Technology Fund, and Innovation Factory, which allowed attendees from the region to learn more about how such programmes support startups and SMEs in the country.

Khalid Almahfouz, Director of Business Development of BIAC said: “When we started these series of Meetups we couldn’t believe the impact we made in just few months; it has been a tremendous journey so far. Today in Muscat we witness one of the solid outcomes and synergies of these meetups by singing an MOU to collaborate in multiple venues with Zubair SEC.
Mohammed Al Hasani, Chief Communications Officer of The Zubair Corporation & Supervisor of Zubair SEC said, “We have always believed that no successful organisation can work in silo if it intends to create significant scalable impact. As such, and as part of our efforts to explore business development and marketing opportunities for our members in the regional markets, we have been working diligently in the past few years to explore opportunities and build partnerships and collaboration with peer organisations that share with us the interest and mission of supporting entrepreneurship. We believe that hosting this SME Support Meetup capitalizes on the good relations we have built locally and regionally, and we hope promising results will see the light in the near future”.

He added, “We thank Badir for their fervent effort in providing a dialogue platform for peer SME support organisations in the region, and we look forward to a fruitful collaboration with them in supporting SMEs in the Sultanate and KSA. We are also very grateful to the embassy of the Netherlands in Muscat for supporting us in holding the workshops on the two days following the meetup, conducted by one of the most reputable organisations in the field. Indeed, mapping SME support ecosystems and measuring impact are two of the most important topics that need to be tackled and learnt about to be able to extend better collective support to startups and SMEs. We highly value the Dutch expertise in this area; this is not the first time we work closely with the embassy and Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship. Back in 2017 we published a joint empirical research on SME Support Ecosystem in the Sultanate, and one on Opportunities for SMEs in Tourism, and later in 2018 we have designed and conducted together and exposure trip to the SME Ecosystem in the Netherlands, attended by 10 SME Support Organisations from the Sultanate”.

Mohammed Al Tawash, CEO, Corporate Hub 9 (CH9 Bahrain), an attending participant from Bahrain, said, “we’ve been impressed by the level of support extended to SMEs and startups in the Sultanate. The country has gone a long way in facilitating an enabling and supporting ecosystem by both the public and private sector, and creating necessary synergies to scale the achieved impact and provide better assistance to entrepreneurs and novice business owners. We are very interested in further exploring how we can jointly extend support to SMEs in our country and the Sultanate, and discuss opportunities for facilitating access to market for SMEs from both sides”. He added, “I would like to especially thank Badir for this quarterly meetup that they have been successfully organising for several rounds, and to Zubair SEC for hosting our meetup in the beautiful city of Muscat, and organising the two following workshops that I believe are of tremendous importance to any organisation keen on supporting entrepreneurship and creating collective impact with peer entities and programmes in any country”.
Zubair SEC is one of the leading initiatives of The Zubair Corporation, which has been running flagship programmes in support of small enterprises in the Sultanate for the past six years. Operating mainly as an advisory centre and business development facilitator for small enterprises, the Centre has been very keen on establishing synergies and collaboration with various public and private organisations inside and outside the Sultanate, as part of its strategy to open market channels and business development opportunities for small enterprises, and leverage its connections and partnerships to better support its members in growing and stabilizing their businesses.

About BIAC:
Established in 2016, the Business Incubators and Accelerators Company (BIAC) is a subsidiary of Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (TAQNIA), wholly-owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), created with the aim to establish, operate and manage business incubators and accelerators as well as entrepreneurship support platforms, innovation programs and technology transfer. BIAC provides project management services, specialized consultations, entrepreneurship support platforms, innovation programs, technology transfer and training services that strive to enhance human resources capabilities.

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