Abdulaziz Al-Abdulkarim, vice president for Procurement & Supply Chain Management in Saudi Aramco, spoke in a panel discussion during the BIBAN SMEs Forum 2017, organized by the Small and Medium Enterprises Authority (Monsha’at) and held on September 17-20, 2017, in Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Center (RICEC).
Al-Abdulkarim said that such events serve economic development by supporting the crucially important entrepreneurship sector, fostering communication among SMEs, government and private sector, and leveraging innovative ideas.
In addition, promoting the success of SMEs, especially within the energy sector, aligns with Saudi Aramco’s In-Kingdom Total Value Add (iktva) Program that aims at developing local content, creating jobs, and increasing the Kingdom’s exports of energy products and services, he added. During the past three years, an annual average spending of approximately $12 billion was spent with over 4,000 SME, either directly by Saudi Aramco or through its supply chain.
Saudi Aramco participated in the event as a diamond sponsor and exhibitor through its Entrepreneurship Center (Wa’ed) to highlight Wa’ed’s strategies and programs that nurture entrepreneurial ideas into viable projects and businesses.
“An enabling ecosystem for small and medium enterprises is vital to the Kingdom’s economic development and diversification objectives. Saudi Aramco took the initiative by creating Wa’ed as a business incubator that offers entrepreneurs training, consulting services, non-collateral loans, and venture capital funding. It also helps in building relationships with key stakeholders in human resources, finance and market access.” Al-Abdulkarim said.
Since its inception, Wa’ed has provided US $74 million in funding to about 96 companies, including a number of projects in the medical sector, technology marketing, and innovative solutions such as online payments. Wa’ed plays a vital role in the Kingdom’s knowledge-based economy amid expectations that start-ups will offer valuable products and services and create thousands of new jobs.
BIBAN Forum aims to develop the Kingdom’s SMEs, which are represented by senior officials from different sectors, government bodies, investors, entrepreneurs, advisors, and organizers.