Non-profit inspires Omani students to venture into private sector
MUSCAT // Shabib Al Maamari aims to create a new generation of Omani entrepreneurs. To do this, he started a non-profit organisation called Injaz Oman that inspires and trains students to join the country’s private sector.
At a time when increased Omanisation is a key goal for both the government and the shura council, the Muscat-based organisation – part of an international network of youth-focused Injaz non-profits – is having an impact across the country.
“We’ve hit every single governorate in Oman,” says Mr Al Maamari, describing the non-profit’s activity.
Every year, Oman needs to create about 40,00 new jobs for graduating students. The government cannot provide employment for everyone and often there is a mismatch between the graduates’ skills and the private sector jobs available.
To help solve this, Injaz has a programme called Sharikati, which means “my company” in Arabic. Volunteers from Oman’s private sector visit high schools and universities to discuss their work and the skills needed.
“Usually what is trending in the business world would take about, on average, three-plus years to reach a text book,” Mr Al Maamari said. “We are trying to bridge the gap. Why wait for three years. By that time there’s a new technology taking place, a new way of doing business.”
The students then practice forming companies of six to 20 people. The volunteer helps the students to identify an issue in the private sector and how that issue can be turned it into a business opportunity. The students go through the process of applying for jobs, writing a company mission statement, electing a chief executive and deciding how to structure the company. The volunteer meets them weekly and offers advice.
“They say, ‘these are the challenges in our sector. Think in a creative manner how you can solve the challenges,’” Mr Al Maamari says.
Though Injaz Oman offers other programmes to help students find jobs, Mr Al Maamari finds Sharikati the most successful. This is partly because of the involvement of volunteers, who are mainly Omanis working in the private sector.
The students “become inspired by these local heroes, these local role models and it’s as simple as that”, Mr Al Maamari says.
The students aim to create a real product or service over six months. At the end of the programme, one company is selected to attend a regional competition of Injaz student companies.
Some of the students do not want to shut down their companies after the programme ends.
“We saw a trend of students not wanting to liquidate and wanting to go the extra mile to turn into a start-up,” Mr Al Maamari said.
Some of the students decide to register their company with the ministry of commerce and get patents for their products.
To help them, Injaz Oman has partnered with the National Business Centre in Muscat. The business incubator allows students to apply for a space in the office, where they receive mentoring and can be introduced to clients and investors.
Mr Al Maamari says, “for NBC we are some sort of pipeline for potential entrepreneurs”.
Updated: September 20, 2015 04:00 AM