Remarks by Mr. Ahmad Al-Sa’adi, SVP Technical Services, at the Aramco Taleed Launch
Ahmad A. Al Sa’adi, senior vice president of Technical Services.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: a very good morning to you.
Today, we are here to focus on one of the most critical components of any economy: small and medium-sized enterprises. SMEs have been described in many ways. From essential economic engines… to key generators of new employment… to the backbone of global economies.
Here in Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030 names SMEs as being “among the most important agents of economic growth.”
Aramco has long been committed to supporting the further expansion of the Kingdom’s energy and industrial SME ecosystem through our different programs. Our In-Kingdom Total Value Add or iktva program is just one example.
In fact, facilitating the development of a diverse and sustainable in-Kingdom energy ecosystem that supports Aramco’s own competitiveness is one of the four main themes of our corporate strategy.
Next to the other strategies such as maintaining our Upstream pre-eminence, increasing our Downstream integration and developing lower carbon products and solutions. So, with the contribution of SMEs to the Kingdom’s GDP, which is targeted to reach 35% by 2030, we want to continue our contributions.
Which brings me back to why we are here today – to formally launch the Aramco Taleed program.
Taleed is comprehensive program that is devoted specifically to sustaining and growing SMEs domestically, which in return aims to create new jobs and contribute to the Kingdom’s GDP. Our objectives for Taleed are very clear. We aim to further stimulate and accelerate the development of sustainable SMEs.
We are closely aligning this program with public-private initiatives directly linked to the Kingdom’s strategies. And through Taleed, we are working to address challenges that many SMEs are facing.
Now, as you know, one of the biggest challenges that SMEs are facing is funding. And that is why Taleed has already built alliances to provide financial solutions totaling over three billion riyals, all devoted to supporting local SMEs.
These funds will be provided by five major national funds: Al-Rajhi Holding, the Energy Capital Group, Lamar Holding, International Maritime Industries, in addition to the Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center.
Inspired by Vision 2030, the Taleed program features 20 major initiatives that can be categorized into three groups.
First, there are initiatives which focus on improving the skills of local talent to better match the job market requirements. This includes a National Vocational Apprenticeship Program, which will provide the right skilled resources to the Aramco Namaat companies and others companies across the Kingdom. We have actually already started this with ITQAN institute and will be recognizing today the first cohort of Safety Officers who will serve many local companies.
The second group of initiatives focus on creating multiple business opportunities for SMEs. This includes the establishment of Integrated Parks to create business opportunities in various untapped areas such as agriculture, artisans, and cloud kitchens. And we will be establishing these world-class integrated parks across nine cities in the Kingdom, enabling participating SMEs to sustain their market reach across the Kingdom and also all-year-round.
Another example in this second group of initiatives is the establishment of a National Artisans Company. One of its aims is to address some of the challenges typically faced by artisans by offering shared services such as training, product development and packaging. This initiative is being delivered jointly with the Heritage Commission and the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts. We also have many other examples under this group of initiatives.
The third group of initiatives focus on supporting SMEs and enabling the ecosystem. This includes the SME Excellence Program, which is a unique Aramco program tailored for SMEs to sustain and grow their business. Related to this area, a detailed assessment and benchmarking study was undertaken to identify the gaps affecting SMEs in the Kingdom.
And this particular initiative has already started with onboarding 150 SMEs to provide them with access to special programs, funding, training, and consultation services.
Of course, 150 is only the start of the program. Our aim is to serve 15,000 SMEs annually, mostly through digital means. All of which leads me to some other reasons why we invited you here today.
In addition to formally launching Taleed and its 20 initiatives, we are also going to witness the signing of 30 MoUs with our public and private partners.
Furthermore, we are also going to recognize the early adopters – be it companies, academies, and graduates of the program, which is part of our plan to launch an annual national SME award initiative.
Finally, before we move on, please allow me the opportunity to say thank you. On behalf of Aramco, I would like to express our sincerest gratitude to all of our partners in Government for their unlimited support of this program.
Also, thank you to our many partners within the private sector who are also working with us to make this program a reality.
We trust that all of you are as excited as we are. Together we can unlock business opportunities and help SMEs fulfil their full potential. I would also like to recognize some of the entrepreneurs and the pioneers who started their own businesses. Many of them have been ex-Aramcons and I would like them to stand up and give them a thank you on behalf of everyone.
I would like to also conclude with a personal note by thanking our President and CEO, Mr Amin Nasser, for his visionary leadership.
This program actually started about a year and a half ago, when I had a discussion with him and he expressed interest in providing support to SMEs. And the program we see today has really been a result of hard work by everyone in National Champions and I am very positive that it is going to make an impact on the Kingdom’s economy.
Thank you all very much.
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