By Sindhu Hariharan / Entrepreneur Middle East
Sharifa Al Barami a business women and active advocate for Oman’s tech entrepreneurship and small business ecosystem, mentor and consultant with an experience of over 16 years in public and private sectors, believes that the GCC nation has come a long way in the past two decades. “[In the past], entrepreneurship was an unknown term, and [Oman has come a long way] from the days of starting an Oman’s Entrepreneurs Network back in 2010 by a group of us using social media to meet up in coffee shops,” she remembers.
Recognizing the need to institutionalize the development of an entrepreneurship culture in the Sultanate, Al Barami is currently the Managing Director of Oman Technology Fund’s Wadi Accelerator, a US$15 million seed fund and accelerator program aimed at investing in Oman’s technology startups at the seed stage. She is also the co-founder and Non-Executive Partner of AlJazeera Global Services & Investments (AGSI), which offers consultancy services for small businesses and startups, among other offerings. And across her business journey, there’s one strategy that Al Barami has always held strong- that of never underestimating the power of technology. “I believe that having a constant pulse on latest technological advancements, coupled with an inquisitive approach to keep testing and experimenting with value proposition offerings, keeps any enterprise innovative,” she declares. “Customers and markets are a fluid space that also change, and hence SMEs and startups need to realize that these targets are moving targets.”
Her firm belief in keeping up with the times is what led to her involvement with Wadi Accelerator and its associated Oman Technology Fund, an investment vehicle created by Oman Investment Fund (Oman’s sovereign fund) to invest in startups and technology companies around the region. The fund’s mission, says Al Barami, is in line with her own objective of attracting technology companies to Oman and help build the country as a tech hub. “Governments and corporates are responding well to this entrepreneurial mindset within their own operations and as a way of survival; albeit slow, but in the right direction.”