Entrepreneurship Ed taking roots
By Hasan Kamoonpuri — MUSCAT— Entrepreneurship education and training has received special attention at the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Development Symposium at Saih al Shamikhat in the Wilayat of Bahla (January 21-23, 2013) under the Royal directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. In this context, Oman Observer caught up with some experts to explore this issue. Tahseen Arshi, Director of Studies, Faculty of Business Management, Majan College, says entrepreneurship education and training is embedded into our curriculum of various programmes and moreover, the college’s collaboration with the newly formed National Company for Projects and Management (NCPM), which is managing the government sponsored SME development fund, to develop the college into an entrepreneurial campus is a welcomed venture. Through this endeavour the college intends to launch entrepreneurial clubs where student members would promote entrepreneurial activities.
The NCPM aims to provide funds to students who would like to establish ‘start up’ ventures within the college campus and this will act as incubation centres. There remains a strong need in Oman to develop incubators for start-ups, thus private sector companies could provide valuable support through the sharing and provision of resources. Knowledge as well as an education in entrepreneurship and training can provide the necessary abilities to recognise opportunities, marshal resources in the face of risk, and initiate viable business ventures. It also includes instruction in business processes such as business planning, capital development, marketing, and cash flow analysis. Entrepreneurship is an ‘inter-related process’ which entails identifying and acting on opportunities, combined with innovation, decision-making and action.
Entrepreneurial education and training is essential in Oman as the government aims to diversify the economy, and build a supportive business environment, which encourages self-employment and businesses growth. Most importantly, its development is contributory to the generation of employment opportunities. Similarly, the Middle East College of Oman has set up an Entrepreneurs Club for actively advancing the tenets of entrepreneurship in the country. In much the same manner, the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education has introduced entrepreneurship education at its colleges and universities. Sunil Sivanand, MD, Acette Technologies says that while good jobs provide security and comfort, they do not provide the satisfaction that can be derived from success in entrepreneurship, says.
To promote an entrepreneurial culture, it is necessary to start at a very early age — in the schools with an emphasis in curriculum on application of knowledge and not on reproducing the information that is gained. Further, early education should be well rounded where simple principles of business and commerce are imparted with the same emphasis as other subjects. So far in most countries, educational systems have trained people to be job-takers, rather than job-makers, he adds. The development in schools and colleges of a stronger understanding of what constitutes entrepreneurship and the concepts of an enterprise culture has potential for significantly changing this trend. Integrating an enterprise culture programme with school and college curriculum to better equip their children for adult and business life is essential. Dr S Bashir Ahmad, Assistant Professor, Nizwa University, says this is the time when Omani youth need to think about entrepreneurship seriously. Opportunities for self-employment ventures abound in Oman.
M K Janaki Raman, GM, Bahwan IT LLC, says Oman has good potential for entrepreneurs to flourish. Budding entrepreneurs should identify their core competence and the business that is planned should be built to tap the core competence. Recent studies show that the rate of enterprise creation in Oman continues to be one half of the rate in Singapore, one third of the rate in the UK, and one eighth of the rate in New Zealand. Academic institutions in partnership with corporate organisations can play an important role in advancing the culture of entrepreneurship. The government of Oman’s helping hand and encouraging environment in terms of loans, financial help, training, and scholarships for higher education is a big boon to the aspiring and budding entrepreneurs. Almutasim al Sariri, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Oman Oil Company (OOC) says OOC proactively implements Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes that include Training for Entrepreneurship.
Fostering entrepreneurial mind sets through education and training delivers stronger and lasting growth and provides more and better jobs. The capacity of an economy to successfully compete and grow depends on encouraging start-ups and helping them put together sustainable business models. OOC is also focusing on unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of women and support more projects such as hand-made and local product bazaars, adds Al Sariri. Fostering leadership development across Oman, OOC is grounded in the belief that investment in entrepreneurs will help build a promising future. OOC signed an agreement with Injaz Oman to support the implementation of the ‘Sharikati’ programme in Sultan Qaboos University and Higher College of Technology. Benefiting more than 280 students, the entrepreneurship education in this programme provides specific training on how to start and run a business, while encourages and supports new business ideas.
The youth entrepreneurship programme ‘Ghaytuh’ is an initiative developed by OOC in partnership with the National Centre for Career Guidance. It is designed to help school students build their entrepreneurship skills and develop original business ideas. In its pilot year in 2012, 70 school students participated in full-month training in Muscat, while, in 2013, the programme expanded to cover Nizwa and Sohar with over 200 participants including students with special needs. The training consisted of four pillars focusing on general business knowledge, practical training in a number of selected occupations, products and services development, as well as, marketing and sales skills.