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KES board member advocates for Small and Medium Enterprises

Haya Boudi, a Member of the Board of Directors of the Kuwaiti Economic Society and Head of the Cultural Committee, has underscored the significance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in driving economic growth. Highlighting the disparity between Kuwait and other economies, she revealed that only 7% of Kuwaitis are employed in SMEs, whereas in the European Union, the figure stands at 85%, and in Canada, at 88%.

Speaking at a symposium which was held under the title ‘Job Opportunities in the Small and Medium Enterprises Sector’, organized by the association in collaboration with the Graduates Association and the Kuwaiti Small and Medium Enterprises Association, Boudi proposed establishing a national fund for SMEs. This fund would diversify the state’s revenue sources and offer employment prospects for citizens, reports Al-Qabas daily.

However, Boudi acknowledged challenges facing the implementation of such plans. She urged the fund’s stakeholders to formulate a clear strategy and set specific goals focused on establishing companies catering to particular commercial sectors. By doing so, job opportunities suitable for Kuwaiti citizens could be created, fostering acceptance and participation in SMEs.

Economic activist Mustafa Al-Mudhaf outlined four key solutions to incentivize Kuwaiti citizens to work in the SME sector. These included motivating small companies to hire, enhancing job stability, bridging the gap between civil service and private sector employment, and altering prevailing stereotypes about the private sector.

Al-Mudhaf advocated linking government procurement preferences for SMEs to the percentage of national labor they employ. He emphasized the need for greater preference for companies with higher Kuwaiti workforce percentages, aligning with the government’s commitment to supporting local youth and SMEs.

He also addressed the concerns of Kuwaiti job seekers, emphasizing the importance of job security, clear career paths, and equitable benefits. Al-Mudhaf called for reforms to reduce the gap between civil service benefits and those in SMEs, while stressing the importance of promoting a positive image of the sector.

Muhammad Al-Muneikh from the Kuwaiti Graduates Association highlighted survey results indicating mixed sentiments among Kuwaiti citizens regarding SME employment. While 40% accepted the idea, another 40% remained neutral, and 20% rejected it outright.

Identifying obstacles such as financial constraints and limited career advancement opportunities, Al-Muneikh emphasized citizens’ concerns about salary, job security, and work environment quality. He underscored the importance of aligning incentives and rights across various employment sectors.

Muhammad Al-Qattan, a Board Member of the Kuwaiti Association for Small and Medium Enterprises, discussed factors hindering citizen employment in SMEs. High costs, competition with government sector benefits, and skill gaps among Kuwaiti candidates were identified.

Al-Qattan emphasized the need for cultural shifts to dispel negative stereotypes about SME employment. He called for enhanced support for SME owners and increased job stability to encourage Kuwaiti participation.

Mustafa Al-Mudhaf underscored the necessity of adjusting national labor support based on company size, advocating for greater support for Kuwaiti workers in smaller enterprises. He emphasized the need for equitable treatment aligned with the contributions and scale of each business.

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