Sunday, September 27, 2009

Recession Breeds Start Ups

As the worst global downturn since the 1940s forces companies around the world to cut staff, more and more people are thinking about starting their own business.

Mohammed Al Maskari (pictured), Director General, Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) and organizer of the annual TKM – Ernst & Young Big Business Idea Competition says: “Striking out on your own in such times might seem risky but if you’re sitting on a great business idea then perhaps you should give it a go. In a downturn, competition dwindles and office space, stock and advertising become cheaper. In fact, downturns often encourage creativity. For instance, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook were all recession start-ups.”

Launched four years ago, the goal of the annual business plan competition is to encourages ground breaking innovation and problem solving – challenging Omani entrepreneurs to make a real difference through developing new markets and making a sustainable profit.

Working on developing accounting software for the finance sector; creating SMS search engines; and developing web page templates, this year’s selected finalists, will deliver five minute elevator pitches to an audience of 150 invited guests at the Grand Hyatt Hotel on October 13. “The gala dinner is always very exciting and highly entertaining,” smiles KOM’s Director General.

The winners of this year’s competition will take about six months to get their business up and running, by which time the world is expected to have climbed out of recession and consumers should have a new-found confidence. “It’s a great time to strike out with a new business,” suggests Mohammed Al Hinai, TKM Co-ordinator.

Surprisingly, a recession can provide opportunities for business start-ups. “When the recovery begins,” suggests Al Maskari, “people and companies start to spend and look for suppliers. Those new businesses that have made their names known through good marketing during the downturn will certainly be noticed."

Rayan Al Kalbani of Mazoon Environmental & Technical Services and former winner of the Big Business Idea Competition says: “It’s important to keep things simple and not to get carried away with your plans before you know they’re going to work. During the start-up phase, it can be easy to make over-optimistic forecasts, and there can be serious consequences for your business if your projections aren’t realistic.”

The young entrepreneur goes on to say: “Starting a business in an incubator like TKM is a marvelous opportunity. Since winning the competition and setting-up, the incubator staff have been amazing. They’ve arranged a series of mentor sessions for me, they’ve been brilliant.”

As far as advising local entrepreneurs, Al Maskari believes: “It’s all about getting thoughts onto paper and looking at the viability of the business idea. This is where business plan competitions like ours play such an important role.”

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Origin Oman's Meet the Buyer

The Origin Oman campaign run by the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates is working with The Wave Muscat on a Meet the Buyer event to bring local buyers and suppliers together to optimize both present and future local business opportunities.

“The Origin Oman Team is keen to support local and small businesses and where possible create tender and business opportunities, which supports the economy,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, Origin Oman’s Marketing Director. Indeed, Origin Oman organized events have proved to be very popular with local business with survey results illustrating that 94% rate the 'buy local' events as very good or excellent and, more importantly, 63% said they had a good chance of resulting business from the events.

This latest initiative, which is being organized to help local businesses through the global recession, is being held at The Wave Muscat on 19 October from 9am to 3pm.

According to Al Faruji, the “supplier speed dating” theme - involving approximately 15 major buyers and over 25 suppliers – will offer buyers, in both the private and public sector, the chance to get in touch with local suppliers. The buyers will benefit by meeting suppliers on a one-to-one basis to increase their knowledge of what’s available locally, sourcing new suppliers for current and future projects, and being able to benchmark against existing ones. Suppliers will also benefit, by introducing their company and unique selling points to buyers face-to-face.

Al Faruji continues: “The event concept is proving very popular. Local suppliers and buyers recognize that it provides them with an excellent networking opportunity as well as enabling them to discover potential new markets, clients and suppliers. I would encourage local business and government organizations to register now, so that they can take advantage of this exciting free event. Indeed, the development of local businesses is vital to Oman’s economic future.”

“Meet the Buyer matches buyers and sellers and provides them with the ideal environment in which to do meaningful business. It’s all about saving people a valuable resource, their time,” comments Zuhair Al Zadjali (pictured), Origin Oman Co-ordinator and Meet the Buyer organizer.

“We invite the buyer and the supplier and schedule individual appointments that bring them together for 20 minute meetings. We also ensure that ‘both sides of the table’ are carefully matched by providing a detailed profile on each delegate. This maximizes the potential of each meeting,” adds Al Zadjali.

“We selected The Wave Muscat as the venue for Meet the Buyer as it offers the ideal combination of good access from across the capital, and it’s an exciting development that has excellent facilities,” smiles Al Faruji.

To participate in Meet the Buyer e-mail

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunshine Industry

Oman’s manufacturing industry is easy to overlook. “Perhaps we’re better known for our beaches and world-class resorts than we are for our industrial estates,” says Ibtisam Al Faruji, Marketing Director at the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) and organizer of Oman’s annual Smart Manufacturing Conference.

Yet manufacturing brings two important things that most other sectors do not: high-paying jobs and major inward investment. “Manufacturing is the protein that feeds the Omani economy,” smiles Al Faruji.

However, the manufacturing sector right across the world has suffered since the global recession began in December 2007. The US has lost about 11% of its manufacturing jobs, while the Japanese have lost 16% of theirs. Even developing nations lost factory jobs: Brazil has suffered a 20% decline and China has experienced a 15% drop. But according to PEIE’s Marketing Director, Omani manufacturing jobs may be starting to grow again. “We’ve over 600 manufacturers based on PEIE estates and this number is expanding each year. In fact, we’ve seen substantial growth in Sohar, Rusayl and Al Buraimi. And our tenants are working in diverse areas - operating in food production, construction, pharmaceuticals, automotive spare parts, glass, textiles, through to aluminium. Indeed, a large proportion of our tenants are export-driven making them important base industries. It’s this type of industry that attract outside money. Moreover, it’s estimated that every manufacturing job brings in about 2.5 other jobs, such as retail, insurance, IT, real estate and other services.”

But what does a post-recession manufacturing sector look like? What are the growth areas and opportunities? Nasser Al Rahbi, PEIE’s Media Manager suggests future industries could include solar and renewable-energy manufacturing. He believes that Oman should have an edge because of its abundant sunshine, proximity to the growing Gulf and Indian markets and the high number of engineers graduating from Oman’s universities.

“The key”, Al Rahbi argues, “is to establish synergy, or enough companies making and researching renewables that encourage more companies to join them – creating a critical mass is really important.” He continues: “It's a question about who gets in early, about who builds a concentration. And the big difference in solar and renewables is that not every country can produce a demand like we can. Given the Gulf region’s population growth, the demand for energy and environmental concerns, we’ve a marvelous manufacturing opportunity to exploit renewables and green technology and create jobs for the future.”

Blog contents copyright © 2006 PEIE