Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have stood out in the last few years as the key driver behind economic development in the sultanate with the sector contributing about 25 per cent or RO8bn to the GDP. Several initiatives have been lined up to propel the sector further in 2023.

Unveiling its achievements of 2022 and upcoming initiatives for 2023, the Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development (ASMED) held a press conference on Sunday.

It highlighted initiatives aimed at developing and empowering SMEs in fields related to In-Country Value (ICV), funding, digital transformation and entrepreneurship, among others.

Abdul Aziz bin Saeed al Raisi, Vice-President of ASMED, announced that the authority will set up a Digital Academy for Entrepreneurship and Startups in 2023. “The academy aims to create partnerships between the public and private sectors and prepare a development programme for startups, in addition to studying and analysing investment opportunities in the governorates.”

He said that the contribution of SMEs to the GDP was about RO7bn or 24 per cent three years ago. “According to the latest statistics, the percentage now ranges between 25 and 26 per cent, equivalent to RO8bn.”

Raisi informed that the authority aims to finance 250 institutions this year, and license 70 new support centres for services based on the needs of each governorate.

Furnishing statistics, Raisi said the total number of SMEs registered in the country until September 2022 was 210,877, while the number of SMEs registered with the authority until December 2022 was 104,141.

He explained that the number of active enterprises that obtained the

Entrepreneurship Card (Riyada) was 37,489, and their contribution to exports amounted to more than RO2bn according to September 2020 data.

“Of the total, 28,445 new entrepreneurship cards were issued in 2022, while the number of requests for renewals was 20,113. The card is a document that enables its holder to obtain a package of facilities, incentives and exemptions from relevant public and private agencies.”

ASMED received more than 200 applications from SMEs for usufruct rights in ten industrial areas in 2022, of which 35 were approved.

The authority held more than 770 consultations on various commercial, administrative, marketing, technical and legal aspects for SMEs. It also signed agreements aimed at providing 300 opportunities for SMEs in several fields.

Younis Mohammed al Nasri, Assistant Vice-President for Finance and Investment at ASMED, said, “We received 203 applications for finance, of which more than 20 applications were approved until the end of 2022, giving more than RO2.3mn.”

ASMED also announced several programmes to enhance skills of entrepreneurs, while opening registration for the Readiness Programme for 2023, which is implemented in all governorates.

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