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Celebrating the Success stories of millennial Entrepreneurs: A 3 day Entrepreneurship Symposium (6-8 December 2016)

Caledonian College of Engineering held the Entrepreneurship Symposium 6 – 8 December 2016 hosting successful graduate and alumni entrepreneurs. Caledonian College of Engineering through the department of educational and Professional Development conducts Entrepreneurship Symposium under different themes each year and has successfully organised Entrepreneurship fair for 3 consecutive years. This event aims to provide students an opportunity to connect with local network supporting entrepreneurship and present product display or advertise their micro businesses. This year the theme was “Celebrating the success of millennial entrepreneurs”.

The Dean Dr. Ahmed Al Balushi gave the welcome address, contextualized the relevance of the symposium and introduced the Chief Guest Mr. Khalid Al Huraibi, CEO Riyada.He highlighted the role of Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (PASMED) and how 11 different government and non-government organisations are available to support young entrepreneurs. This session provided lot of clarity relating to SME ecosystem and what it requires to develop an enabling environment for SMEs, particularly in the areas of developing business ideas, accessing crucial resources, developing insights about support organisations and finally, the legal and licensing procedures to start a business. Mr. Ali Al Lawati, DGM Mudhaher Establishment and Founding Partner of PPC Oman, an alumnus of Caledonian College of Engineering narrated his experiences and challenges while embarking on his worthwhile entrepreneurial journey. His words provided lot of insights in terms of traits and actions that young entrepreneurs need to develop. Importantly, confidence, as he mentioned, is a very important trait and combined with patience and perseverance will make the journey worthwhile and fruitful. He advised young entrepreneurs to take up the task of developing enough evidence before they approach the banks for loans. He described it in the background of his own experiences and success.

Sherry Colbourne Co-Founder & Managing Partner and Ines Baricevic Director Business Development, Startup Oman gave a detailed introduction to the activities at Startup Oman and how it proactively has grown from zero to providing support to 1200 SMEs to provide crucial, 24/7, online support to budding entrepreneurs through a local and global exposure. Ines engaged the audience with lot of enthusiasm and explained how Startup Grind, a programme as part of Startup Oman, now has a community of 4000 entrepreneurs in 200 cities from 84 Countries. Startup Grind was mentioned in Forbes as the TED for Entrepreneurs.

Day 1 of the symposium showcased students’ perception on the role of startups on national economy. The panel discussion mediated by Mr Ibrahim Al Balushi from Educational and Professional Development provided student participants insight on ‘Do SMEs contribute to Sustainable Economy”. The panelist Muataz Al Mawali, Yamam Mohammad and Mallak Al Zadjali agreed that Oman has many opportunities for SMEs. SMEs are customer oriented and not affected by economic crisis and hence can sustain economy by providing more jobs as diversification of the economy has opened opportunities for different sectors.

The day also had a Business Idea Competition, presentation and defense by students who had developed Business Model Canvas and Business Plan. Three groups presented for the day. Day 2 was yet another interesting day with a session by Injaz Oman and it was a meaningful introduction to their activities and processes. Mr Sulaiman Al Mahrooqi highlighted the support Injaz Oman provides to the budding entrepreneurs in promoting their ideas into reality. Mr Mahomoud Lawati, CEO of Blue Synergies and Mr Ahmed Al Balushi, CEO of Kashkaful, both students of Caledonian shared their success stories. The panel discussion involving successful student entrepreneurs fomed the panelists for the discussion titled’ what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur’ chaired by Mr Jasim Al Balushi, Deputy Head - Department of Educational and Professional Development. This session was followed by Business Idea Competition, presentation and defense by students who had developed Business Model Canvas and Business Plan. Five groups presented for the day.

The third day of the symposium started with an interesting session by Caledonian successful Entrepreneur Abdullah Al Hinai, GM Hinai Constructions and CCE Alumni Saba Al Busiadia, Social media Strategist and Co-Founder of Viral Oman followed by an inspiring entrepreneurial success story by CEO of Meshan Dates Shatha Al Jabri. Mr. Haitham Al Saqri, Business Development Officer, Caledonian Centre for Creativity and Innovation will highlight the activities of the centre and announced innovation competitions. The event was covered by a student entrepreneur Firas Al Wadhahi whose impressive video of the three days was launched and met with great applause. Professor Vallavaraj- Associate Dean Undergraduate Studies- Caledonian College of Engineering, congratulated the successful conclusion on the three days symposium that provided a platform for inspiration, passion and celebration of success.

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