National Bank of Oman (NBO) has granted a total of OMR 17,500 to three rising SMEs during the fifth edition of the ‘Innovation in SME’ Awards. Open to student-led start-ups and entrepreneurs between the ages 18-25 across the Sultanate, over 125 submissions were received, making it the most competitive year to date. The five shortlisted teams were judged based on originality, sustainability, practicality and prototype.
Sayyid Wasfi bin Jamshid Al Said, Acting Chief Executive Officer at NBO, said, “Youth are taking the driver’s seat in all industries. As the men and women of tomorrow, they are the foundation of our society and it is no surprise that they are leading the SME segment. At NBO, we have embraced this full heartedly and have consciously invested our efforts to continuously support, train, and coach Omani talent, thereby contributing to both job generation and economic diversification.”
He added, “The Award encourages, supports and celebrates innovation in the Sultanate and is part and parcel of our commitment to promoting a positive shift towards creative thinking. Since its launch, more than 400 aspiring ideas have been submitted by youth across Oman. Their imagination and courage combined with an enthusiasm for adventure is something we all stand to benefit from.”
The first-place winning team, Purvex received OMR 10,000 for an online application “nSmartFood” which helps customers download restaurants’ menus ahead of time to help liaise placing orders and track delivery serving both dine in customers and takeaway orders. They will also receive support from the Bank in developing their concept further and join NBO’s Tijariati SME mentoring programme in order to strengthen their skills and learn new ways to grow their business. In addition, they will have access to the Bank’s Academy of Excellence and all its training programmes.
Second place winners, Plug-in were awarded an OMR 5,000 cash prize for an application that offers audio tour guide upon scanning the QR codes that are distributed in various touristic locations around Muscat. While third place winners, Octopus took home OMR 2,500 for their Ruhal application which allows visitors to find out the services provided in each touristic location and order extra services if needed.
NBO was the first bank to launch a dedicated SME department, Tijarati, to address the specific banking and finance needs of entrepreneurs to unlock their full potential. Last year, the Bank was recognised for ‘Best Financial Support’ at the Riyada Entrepreneurship Awards and was also the Gold Sponsor of Ebdaat Omania, a five-day exhibition organised by the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development (Riyada). This reflects NBO’s ongoing contributions to promoting new businesses and supporting the economy through providing a wide array of innovative SME services.