With an intention to emphasise that SMEs have a critical part to play in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Zubair Small Enterprises Centre (Zubair SEC) organised a ‘Tajribati’ session on “The role of SMEs in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
To offer a better understanding of SDGs to SMEs in the Sultanate, Zubair SEC hosted Her Excellency Nora Ourabah Haddad, Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Representative in the Sultanate who provided an overview of SDGs and advised attendees on how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can explore and align their operations with SDGs.
The ‘Tajribati’ session was attended by a number of FAO team members, entrepreneurs, business advisors, and aspiring entrepreneurs. Zubair SEC’s ‘Tajribati’ initiative serves as a unique platform to connect business & industry experts with start-up and SME owners and new entrepreneurs to exchange views, discuss common challenges and share best practice.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. They recognise that food security, job opportunities, and other socio-economic challenges must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, and spur economic growth, to name but a few – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
Since, its establishment, Zubair SEC has been a strong advocate of social impact and social entrepreneurship in the Sultanate by devoting effort in raising awareness on the topic and building capacity amongst young Omanis and owners of small enterprises. Aiming to aid SMEs, start-ups and companies make critical decisions related to sustainability and the social impact of their businesses, Zubair SEC has been offering practical insights to start-ups and SMEs to implement sustainable practices in their businesses.
The ‘Tajribati’ session provided a summary on the Sustainable Development Goals and the role of Omani SMEs in achieving the SDGs. By the end of sessions participants were equipped with a knowledge and understanding of why SMEs must play an important role in implementing that. They also increased their knowledge on SDGs, their importance, and the role of UN agencies including FAO in supporting countries to monitor their implementation. An animated short video that was screened at the ‘Tajribati’ session showed an overview of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including the 17 SDGs and the role of FAO as custodian agency for 21 SDGs Indicators.
A presentation on “How SMEs can contribute to achieving the SDGs” covered four thematic areas including ‘The impact of SMEs on sustainable development’; ‘Why achieving SDGs is important to SMEs?’; ‘What are the main challenges and opportunities of SMEs in terms of achieving SDGs?’ and ‘What concrete actions can SMEs adopt to contribute to the Agenda for sustainable development?’
H.E. Nora Ourabah Haddad, FAO Representative in the Sultanate of Oman shed light on the importance of SDGs and the role of SMEs in this regard.
Applauding Zubair SEC, H.E. Nora Ourabah Haddad added, “By strengthening the knowledge and capacity of aspiring entrepreneurs, Zubair SEC is encouraging SMEs and start-ups to make a significant contribution to the achievement of SDGs. I commend the efforts by Zubair SEC to promote SDGs and highlight what SMEs can do to achieve the goals. FAO looks forward to furthering our collaboration with Zubair SEC to achieve common goals in the framework of the SDGs.”
She also added: “SMEs have a significant role to play to achieve the SDGs Regardless of size or sector, all start-ups and SMEs can contribute to the SDGs. When SMEs do businesses responsibly, they can easily seize opportunities and contribute to social and economic transformations through innovation and cooperation. SMEs evolving in sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, healthcare, education, environment can easily contribute to the goals of SDGs.
Lina Hussein, Head of Communication and Social Impact at Zubair SEC said, “We are immensely grateful to FAO for their support in holding this session which was very enlightening for the participants. There are several SDG goals that are connected to SMEs and they can implement them easily in practice. We encourage our members to explore ways to align their business strategies with SDGs and think of how they can have tangible contribution in this regard, and we are here to support and advise on best practices to go about that.”
She added, “As a social responsibility initiative of The Zubair Corporation, Zubair SEC has been working with SMEs and new businesses to encourage them to embed sustainable business practices. We support our members through their journey and help many of them see the benefits of implanting sustainable business practices into their business.
Zubair SEC’s Direct Support Programme aims at creating a spirit of positive competition between Zubair SEC’s members to enrol in the programme, and thus earn a package of essential services to launch and maintain sustainable businesses through working plans implemented in cooperation between the Centre and the programme members. Very early on, Zubair SEC dedicated one of the ten winning seats a year in the programme for a social enterprise or an SME that has social impact embedded at its core business model. It has also embedded social impact as a key part of the assessment criteria for applicants to the annual programme. Zubair SEC has held several workshops which deliberated on the need to care about sustainability and discussed the means to achieve it. Zubair SEC has conducted several workshops for students to give an understanding of social entrepreneurship and social impact.
The monthly Tajribati discussion sessions has been gaining very good momentum year on year. Zubair SEC has held several ‘Tajribati’ sessions covering a variety of topics pertinent to SMEs. Given the importance of such topics, the Centre plans to hold further workshops to keep building capacity of its members in critical areas.