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SMEs can provide vital support to the economy: Bikram S Rishi

SMEs can provide vital support to the economy and can help provide diversified economic growth and employment opportunities, says Bikram S Rishi, CEO, Muscat Finance.

What has been the contribution of Muscat Finance Company towards helping SMEs in Oman?

Muscat Finance has been supporting SMEs for the past 28 years and has played a key role in supporting a number of large corporates in Oman, who were SMEs at one time. We continue to believe in enabling the dreams of many entrepreneurs and stand ready to support them at every stage of their growth.

What are the financial products offered by Muscat Finance for the SME sector and how are they enabling the youth in successfully developing SMEs?

Muscat Finance provides finance for automobiles, light transport vehicles, trucks and heavy equipment. This has helped support a number of young entrepreneurs especially when they are starting their companies or have plans to increase the scale of their business. We also provide support in the form of LCs, Guarantees, working capital finance and factoring to SMEs, to assist them in managing their pre and post sales cash flows.

What are your future plans for the development of Oman’s SME sector?

We plan to increase the range of products that we are offering and also increase our reach to SMEs. We believe that SMEs can provide vital support to the economy and can help provide diversified economic growth and employment opportunities. We have built strong relationships with various companies over the last few years and are well placed to support the growth of SMEs in Oman.

What is your opinion on the state of affairs of SME sector in Oman, especially from the perspective of financial sector? What should SMEs in Oman do to grow more competitive and dynamic?

The SME sector is at a nascent stage and all the right steps are being taken by the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Central Bank of Oman and the various Ministries to support the growth of SMEs. It is now up to the SME owners to take up the challenge and really get involved in all aspects of setting up and growing a business they believe in, and are willing to develop.

Several SME owners say access to financing is one of the key challenges faced by them? What should they do to overcome this challenge?

The doors of all Finance companies and Banks are open and SME owners need to do a good financial plan with projections on how their sales, fixed and variable costs, cash flow, profits and so on will look like over a 3-5 year time horizon. They should study the market well and be prepared for ups and downs in the market. They should also ensure that they maintain a good credit history so that lenders will have more confidence in supporting their future growth.

What do you think are the future prospects of SME sector in Oman?

The SME sector is the largest provider of employment in a number of developed markets and I expect the same will happen in Oman. The concept of In-Country Value has worked well for the Oil and Gas sector and as it gets rolled out to other sectors, there will be ample opportunity for SME owners to take advantage of the growth of the national economy.

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