Muscat: The Women in Business forum hosted by Bank Muscat's Meethaq Islamic Banking evoked good response as livewire businesswomen and successful entrepreneurs highlighted the opportunities available for women entrepreneurs as well as the skills required to become effective business leaders.
Yuthar Al Rawahi, member of Majlis Al Dawla, presided at the forum held at the bank's head office.
Sulaiman Al Harthy, group general manager — Islamic banking, said: "The rationale behind hosting the forum titled 'Inspire, Challenge and Change' stems from Bank Muscat's commitment to support women empowerment. In line with the progressive policies pursued by the government in empowering women, the bank offers key support to women development programmes.
"The bank acknowledges that the development of Oman significantly hinges on the role played by women and that they need to be provided the required support to realise their full potential. With women comprising a major customer segment, Bank Muscat offers unique products and services targeted at them."
Inspirational speaker Safia Al Bahlani addressed the gathering, motivating the participants to stretch their limits to overcome challenges and seize opportunities.
Panel discussion participants highlighted their experiences in building up successful business ventures.
Participants in the first panel discussion on 'Transforming your ideas into business' included Azza Al Ismaily, founder and managing director of Rikaz Training & Human Resources Development; Salma Al Hajri, founder of Salma Chocolate; Anisa Abdullah Al Kharusi, founder of Shakespeare and Co. Restaurant and Eng. Saleh Mohammed Al Shanfari, chairman of A'Saffa Foods. Lakshmi Kothaneth, Oman FM radio and TV presenter, was the moderator at the session.
The second panel discussion on 'SME Financing — Challenges and Opportunities' was moderated by Malak Al Shaibani, founder, CEO of Creative Links and general manager of National Business Centre. The participants included Mohammed Nadeem, head of Meethaq Islamic Banking; Ilham Al Hamaid, AGM — SME Credit and Marketing, Bank Muscat and Abdullah Al Jufeily, GM — Sharakah Fund for Development of Youth Projects.
The forum facilitated exchange of ideas about business challenges and opportunities in Oman. The current trends in business financing in Islamic banking industry, business performance and management were also highlighted to inspire a future generation of businesswomen.
Sulaiman Al Harthy added: "As the nation's leading financial services provider, Bank Muscat is well positioned to provide Islamic financial expertise to diverse segments, including women, and thereby promote the good of society as a whole.
"The bank has taken major strides as part of its proposed Islamic banking operations and assigned RO150 million capital for Meethaq Islamic Banking, subject to approval from the Central Bank of Oman."