Saudi Arabia appoints governor for new SME body

Ghassan Al-Sulaiman is a veteran of the VC industry in Saudi Arabia, having founded his own investment firm to grow small and medium-sized businesses, and served as chairman of Bahrain’s Venture Capital Bank.

Saudi Arabia has appointed investor Ghassan Al-Sulaiman governor of the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), a new state agency established last October, Zawya reported today.

As part of its mission to create jobs for young Saudis and boost the economy, the new agency aims to facilitate funding for SMEs. The recent launch of a SR4bn ($1.07bn) state investment fund to foster the local venture capital industry will be a major incentive to develop SMEs, Al-Sulaiman said.

“The aim of this fund is to invest in venture capital and private ownership in agreement with trade foundations to support and promote investment opportunities in the SMEs,” Al-Sulaiman said.

Al-Sulaiman is an experienced venture capital investor. In 2004, he founded his own investment firm, Ghassan Al-Sulaiman Development Company, to launch and develop small and medium-sized businesses in sectors such as real estate, financial services, information technology, and retail.

One of Al-Sulaiman’s biggest retailing successes was securing the exclusive franchise for furniture maker Ikea in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Al-Sulaiman has also served as chairman of Venture Capital Bank, a Bahrain-based Islamic investment bank that began operations in 2005 and specialises in SMEs and venture capital investing.

In addition to joining the boards of several businesses, including cement manufacturer Arabian Cement Company and Magrabi Hospitals and Centers, which specialises in providing eye, ear, nose and throat and dentistry care services, Al-Sulaiman has also served as chairman of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) and chairman of JCCI's SMEs committee.

He holds a doctorate in strategic management and an MBA, and was previously a lecturer in strategic management at Maastricht University.

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