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Times of Oman - 20.12.2014



The current economic climate is now putting greater expectation upon the performance of the SME market in Oman. This element of the business culture in Oman has become the prime target for governmental support with a host of initiatives and groups being set up and monitored closely by the government. 


The realisation that they will and must form an integral part of Oman's revenue stream has focused many senior government ministers to provide assistance, funding, training and management initiatives to improve and encourage the growth of this sector.

As part of this development process, large companies are rightly being encouraged to support and use the services of Omani SMEs. The rationale behind the Government's initiatives is clear.  Omani SMEs should be able to rely upon the support of the local multi-million Rials companies to support them in their growth and development with the ultimate positive impact on employment and GDP.

This is all very commendable indeed and is in line with His Majesty's vision of expanding Omani entrepreneurship however, there appears to be an alarming trend emerging of hiring SME companies and then delaying or withholding payment for their services. 

Often the usual "our payment terms are 90 days" or even worse, no reason, is given. Feedback to SME owners are vital, be it positive or otherwise and this is another element of the co-operation between large companies and SMEs that seems to be neglected. 

The reputation of an SME can be, and often is, destroyed by a large company in the blink of an eye with complete indifference.

Local blue chip companies must take the time and feedback any concerns to SMEs as opposed to using threatening or bully boy tactics when they are not satisfied with what they get in terms of service.

Cash flow issues are the lifeline of every SME and many exist month to month and simply cannot afford to have to wait for 90 days before they get a chance of payment.  The timely payment of an OMR2.000 invoice to an SME can mean the difference between survival and capitulation. 

Perhaps large companies could adopt a more flexible approach to the terms and conditions of service provision by SMEs who often have their own specific payment terms which are geared to their cash flow situation.

Many local SMEs deliver professional services at very competitive prices compared to their international competitors but no business should be expected to pay for poor service however, if they communicate their requirements and expectations clearly, poor service can be reduced if not eliminated. 

Successful companies become successful in part by communicating effectively and honestly yet there are clearly still those that bully their way to the top.

SMEs are vital to the future of Oman, offer excellent service, local employment and innovative solutions.  Communication, flexibility and guidance are the key words here and our large company decision makers should be encouraged to provide these. 

Only then can Omani SME businesses have a chance of thriving in such a fiercely competitive market and meeting the expectations of the nation.
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