How To Start Your Small [Archives:1997/47/Business & Economy]

November 24 1997

Organized by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce (FCCI) and Industry in cooperation with the International Labor Organization (ILO), a seminar entitled “How To Start Your Small Business” was held in Sanaa from the 16th to 18th of November. The seminar was attended by the Deputy Minister of Supply and Trade, Mr. Ahmed Al-Sayyaghy; the General Director of the FCCI, Mr. Jamal Sharhan; and the ILO Consultant, Ms. Luma Nassr. Participants included representatives of the various chambers of commerce in Yemen, the General Investment Corporation, the Ministry of Industry, the Agricultural Bank of Borrowing, and other relevant bodies. Extensive discussions were conducted by the organizing bodies before the seminar was held. The main aim was to ascertain the needs of potential small investors who do not know how to start. A number of research papers were submitted at the seminar dealing with various aspects of small private projects and their role in economic development and reform. Dr. Antoine Mansoor, the ESCWA expert at the UN, delivered a lecture entitled “Establishing Small Projects.” In his lecture he concentrated on developing personal economic sense, the spirit of the pioneer, the ability to take risks, strengthen self confidence and leadership and managerial skills. “The main obstacle may not necessarily be a financial one, but there can also be personal, managerial, and technical hindrances,” said Dr. Mansoor stressing the importance of vocational training. He added, “it is very important to study the market and develop personal skills.” This seminar is important in that it helps prospective entrepreneurs establish their own small projects. It is quite vital that, after this seminar, the FCCI should follow-up the implementation of the seminar’s recommendations. There should also be intensive vocational training courses, especially for women. Many women have become very successful in business management. Therefore, it is essential that more is built on these success. The ESCWA has a wide experience in training women in rural areas and people of limited resources, to start their own small businesses in an effort to combat poverty. It was found that women who have passed such courses have become more self confident, whether in business or in the family.
Dr. Mansoor cited the success story of a Jordanian woman who started a simple embroidery workshop. Following a training course, the same woman was able to expand her business to the point of employing 200 women, working at home during their spare time. These women are now able to make substantial contributions to their household budgets. “The main problem was not lack of skills, but the inability to profitably market their products,” said Dr. Mansoor, adding, “the problem was solved through the specific marketing course.” Ms. Luma Nassr of the ILO indicated that the seminar’s main goal is to create, among young men and women, an awareness of the importance of establishing small projects. “Creating private trade,, industrial and service projects, no matter how small, is bound to revive the local economy, create new jobs, and help the country in its overall economic development,” said Dr. Nassr. “Businessmen and entrepreneurs must become fully aware of the need to establish a sound managerial basis for their firms in order to able to compete in the international markets.” Several governments in developing and even developed countries are beginning to realize the importance of the private sector and the future of the country as a whole. Even big industrialized countries are now encouraging small businesses. “They are easier to launch, do not need big capital or very sophisticated technology, create new jobs, and help to locally invest the national capital,” indicated Dr. Nassr. As a major representative of the private sector, the FCCI has a big role to play in encouraging small private businesses. The FCCI General Director, Mr. Jamal Sharhan emphasized the FCCI’s commitment to cooperate with the ILO. “Economic conditions in Yemen are very conducive for investments,” said Mr. Sharhan, ” because many obstacles have been removed.” According to Mr. Sharhan, there are now offices within the General Investment Corporation to deal with individual investors and facilitate the implementation of their proposed projects. “Import licenses have been abolished and bureaucratic obstacles in the customs have been sorted out in coordination with the Customs Authority,” he announced. As far as financing projects is concerned, Mr. Sharhan pointed out that a seminar will be held soon in cooperation with the Ministry of Labor and the ILO to deal with this issue.
Recommendations Concluding the seminar, the participants reached the following recommendations. 1- Official bodies should remove all obstacles that may face potential investors and improve the general economic climate to be more conducive for investment. 2- The relevant bodies should expand financial credit establishments and facilities so as to help small projects. 3- Similar seminars should be held again in Sanaa and other governorates in order to benefit as many interested people as possible. 4- A national cadre of qualified trainers should be formed to help potential small investors and entrepreneurs. 5- Intensive local training courses should be held for young men and women to develop their managerial and marketing skills.
By: Yusuf Sharif, Yemen Times