Zubair Small Enterprises Centre (Zubair SEC) held a special dialogue session in collaboration with the Pearl Initiative to address how corporate governance practices can help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) navigate growing economic challenges and boost business outcomes.
The session was organised as part of Zubair SEC’s “Tajribati” monthly dialogue initiative, which hosts a number of prominent speakers and experts in governance and MSMEs in the Sultanate and participating MSMEs at Bait Al Zubair. This is the second time Zubair SEC has run governance-related sessions with the Pearl Initiative, a business-led non-profit advocating corporate accountability in the Gulf region.
The event, titled “Governance for Sustainable Growth: Enhancing MSME Outcomes”, highlighted the key role corporate governance practices can play in boosting the profiles of small businesses by making them more appealing to stakeholders, such as investors.
Gulf Region MSMEs are the backbone of national economies and employ significant proportions of local labour forces. However, they face unique challenges that hinder their growth plans, such as a lack of funding or a difficulties hiring specialised talent. Corporate governance, when applied well, can streamline a small business and help it reach its full potential – and can assure external stakeholders of its drive for success.
This event builds on research undertaken in 2017 by the Pearl Initiative on the state of corporate governance in Gulf Region MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises). It revealed that while 83% of Omani MSMEs wished to grow in the next one to two years, 51% of them faced an absence of cash and funding. 48% of Omani small businesses also highlighted difficulties that they faced in hiring and retaining skilled talent. Such challenges can be effectively tackled by businesses of all sizes with knowledge of corporate governance and the implementation of its related practices.
The dialogue session featured experts in corporate governance from the SME, banking, academic, and policy fields in Oman. Participants interacted with these experts to learn about the value that good governance can bring to their enterprises. The expert speakers were Sayyid Hamid Al Busaidi, Executive Director at the Oman Center for Governance and Sustainability; Faris Al-Harthy, Project Specialist at Sharakah; and Jamal Al-Wahaibi, Head of SME Department, Oman Arab Bank. The expert moderator was Sayyed Dr. Munther Al-Busaidi, Assistant Professor, Sultan Qaboos University.
Sayyid Hamid Al Busaidi stated, “Corporate governance is an essential element and very much needed in a financial business environment specifically, and for the Omani economy in general. SMEs are seen as one of the important pillars in driving the Omani economy to grow and sustain Oman's 2040 Vision. Therefore, corporate governance will support these enterprises to grow, sustain and contribute effectively in the Omani economy.”
Participants also had the chance to engage with these experts on how to achieve diversity in their organisations, manage risk, operate transparently, and strengthen internal communication processes – qualities that mirror the values and culture of a business.
Lina Hussein, Head of Communications and Social Impact at Zubair SEC said, “While small businesses can easily become fully focused on establishing and stabilizing their products or services at the earlier years of their businesses lifecycle, they could easily put aside governance and sustainability, maybe due to a misperception by some that this domain is not for small businesses to consider. At Zubair SEC, we realise how pivotal applying proper governance and sustainability practices could be for a successful growth and progress of any business. As such, raising awareness on those two very important topics has been part of our efforts since establishment.”
She added, “We are delighted to be joining hands with the Pearl Initiative for the second time in holding such engaging and enriching sessions to equip SMEs in the area of governance and to encourage transparent dialogue about the possible challenges that could be hindering or delaying many SMEs from looking into those practices. We thank the Pearl Initiative team for their efforts and we are grateful to the speakers who have shared their expertise and insight with SMEs in this special session.”
Yasmine Omari, Executive Director at the Pearl Initiative, said, “The Pearl Initiative is consistently at the forefront of promoting a culture of corporate governance in the Gulf Region. Our engagement with MSMEs on this front is crucial when considering the vital role these businesses play in boosting national and regional economies. A strong MSME sector – fuelled by stringent corporate governance practices – will contribute to stronger economies, markets and overall development.”
Sayyed Dr. Munther Albusaidi, Assistant Professor at Sultan Qaboos University, commented, “"I believe that good corporate governance will enable SMEs to grow and excel as it gives them a roadmap for success by implementing best practices in governance and management of an organization with clear distribution of responsibilities and roles."
In addition to such events, the Pearl Initiative will soon be launching a dedicated online platform aimed at supporting regional MSMEs with the implementation of corporate governance, using toolkits, graphic guides, and informational videos.
The Zubair Small Enterprises Centre (Zubair SEC) is one of the leading initiatives for supporting small businesses in the Sultanate of Oman. Established in 2013, the centre emanated from The Zubair Corporation’s social responsibility vision towards the Omani society. The vision reflects the corporation’s belief in the importance of small enterprises in enhancing the national economy and contributing to sustainable socio-economic development.
Founded in 2010, the Pearl Initiative develops regional programmes, carrying out key research and developing case studies, reports and publications to support the private sector in collectively taking the lead in adopting higher standards in corporate governance, accountability, and transparency to enhance business innovation, opportunity, and value creation.