Oman plans to set up first venture capital company

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Muscat: Oman plans to establish its first venture capital company, which will be formed exclusively by investors from the private sector.

The announcement to form the Oman Venture Capital Company (Ethmar), which means harvesting in English, will be announced at a first-of-its-kind conference that will bring together potential investors, experts, entrepreneurs and students at a two-day event to be held on December 6 and 7 in Muscat.

Entitled,“Oman Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Conference 2015,” the forum is a joint collaboration between the Sultanate’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) and the Iskan Oman Investment Company.

The conference, which will have over 250 participants, seeks to shortlist three potential start-ups that will be pursued by the venture capital company to be formed.

The event will be held under the patronage of Ali Masoud Ali Al Sunaidy, minister of commerce and industry,at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The event has been organised by the MOCI, Iskan, the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development (Riyada) and the Al Raffd Fund.

The other co-organisers of the conference are KPMG, Trowers & Hamlins, Institute of Cost and Management Accounting and 1Pulse Oman LLC.

Helping entrepreneurs

Speaking about the conference, the minister said, “In support of His Majesty’s vision to promote Omanisation, this conference will help many Omani entrepreneurs understand the advances in global markets, which are creating high impact in the economies of many developed nations. This initiative focuses on both long and short-term objectives of employment creation, nurturing new businesses, facilitating economic and market expansion, developing human resources and removing inefficiency.”

Al Sunaidy added that the conference seeks to create a platform to trigger and bring together high-growth potential start-ups and alternative funding sources, such as angel investors and venture capitalists by showcasing successful experiences from other applicable role models of the world.

Raising finance

The conference hopes to highlight how a start-up can benefit from venture capital support. While venture capital allows emerging businesses to raise finance not available through conventional means, it also provides long-term capital and helps take pride in partnering with exceptionally talented entrepreneurs.

Since venture capitalists screen projects thoroughly, they evaluate the entrepreneur’s project more accurately, thereby ensuring its success. Venture capital funds encourage innovative businesses that otherwise may have struggled. The role of the venture capital is vital to inspire self-employment, which in turn will boost the economy and contribute to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Target groups

The conference, targeted mainly at new entrepreneurs and the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector, will also see selected and nominated students from the Sultan Qaboos University and many private universities attending.

The timing of the conference is relevant, given the fact that the growth and development of SMEs is among the government’s key priority areas.

Since it is a proven fact that new entrepreneurs will be one of the key drivers of Oman’s economy going forward, it is important to enhance their capabilities and empower them to achieve greater results. While new entrepreneurs have ideas and the required innovative knowledge, they find it difficult to secure funding for a start-up or a business idea.

Unique opportunity

This conference will also provide a unique opportunity for SMEs and new entrepreneurs to seek alternative source of funding and also exchange ideas and knowledge from key experts and practitioners.

They will get to hear success stories from the founders of companies who started their entrepreneurial journey after obtaining venture capital for growth and expansion. Those attending will have access to venture capital and angel investors and get to network with strategic business leaders.

The conference has been welcomed by industry experts, who believe that support from a venture capital investor could give young Omani entrepreneurs the best possible push towards a high-growth journey.

They feel it is the right time to establish an advanced venture capital market in Oman, which will accelerate the growth of SMEs. This will encourage innovation and creativity and help entrepreneurs.

Keynote address

The minister will deliver the keynote address on the opening day of the conference. A line-up of leading figures from across the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, India and Oman will introduce opportunities and strategies to power new businesses.

With a diverse, knowledgeable and influential mix of speakers, the event is expected to help participants find new ways to do business.

At the second day of the conference, three selected projects will be announced that have successfully fulfilled the criteria for potential co-investment by Ethmar.

Members of private sector organisations, family run businesses, government officials and potential investors for the venture capital company will be among the attendees.

Occidental of Oman is the gold sponsor, the Saud Bahwan Group and Omantel are the silver sponsors and Bank Muscat/Meethaq Islamic Banking is the supporting sponsor for the conference.

source : times of oman