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Saudi SMEs draw encouraging support
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 30 - 03 - 2011

Prince Muhammad Bin Fahd, Emir of Eastern Province, flanked by Abdulrahman Bin Rashed Al Rashed, Chairman of Asharqia Chamber (left) and Abdulrahman Bin Abdullah Al-Wabil, Secretary General of Asharqia Chamber, patronized the SMEs Economic Forum in Eastern Province. (SG photo by Joe Avancena)
DAMMAM: Support for small and medium enterprises in Saudi Arabia is growing, driven by package of financial assistance and educational programs to prepare Saudi entrepreneurs to venture into SMEs enterprises.
Prince Muhammad Bin Fahd, Emir of Eastern Province, formally opened the SMEs Economic Forum at the Asharqia Chamber Tuesday.
Abdulrahman Bin Rashed Al Rashed, Chairman of Asharqia Chamber, thanked Prince Mohammad for his support to SMEs. He said the business community highly appreciated the Prince's encouragement "as it serves as a motive and a push forward to organize and launch more initiatives which will benefit the society and economy of the Eastern Province and the Kingdom as a whole."
Speakers at the Forum said funds are readily available to support small and medium businesses.
"The local banking sector has opened opportunities to young Saudi entrepreneurs by providing them with funds with which to start their businesses," said Adel Al Howar, Senior Executive Vice President and Head of Individual Banking Sector of National Commercial Bank (NCB) at the forum.
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Hunaishei, Director General of the Saudi Credit and Savings Bank, joined Howar in assuring SMEs entrepreneurs that financial supports are available. "What is also needed is that the government and the private sector come together to draw attention to the fact that SMEs should take priority attention," Al-Hunaishei said.
Al Howar cited NCB's Kafala program, the loan window for SMEs that offers small and medium enterprises to access up to SR.2 million loan. The Kafala program is a financial assistance program between Saudi banks and the Ministry of Finance through the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF).
Ibrahim Badawood, CEO of the Abdul Latif Jameel Community Services Programs (ALJCSP), said job creation in the SMEs has remained a top priority of his company. "Through our educational program and partnership with our stakeholders, our corporate social responsibility programs continue to provide assistance to young entrepreneurs," he said.
However, SMEs in the Kingdom "is not all easy sailing," said Muhana Al Muhana, CEO of Saudi Arabian Small and Medium Enterprises Company. "While financial assistance could be accessed, the red tapes in establishing SMEs discourage many who have to wait long period, even as long as eight months, before their registration and approval papers are released by local municipal governments where small businesses are usually registered," Al Muhana told Saudi Gazette. He said even financial institutions require much paperwork in approving loans.

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