Aramco entrepreneurship arm, Wa’ed, trebles loans to SMEs

Wassim Basrawi (L) is Wa’ed’s managing director. (Supplied)
Wassim Basrawi (L) is Wa’ed’s managing director. (Supplied)
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Updated 14 January 2021

Aramco entrepreneurship arm, Wa’ed, trebles loans to SMEs

Wassim Basrawi (L) is Wa’ed’s managing director. (Supplied)
  • In terms of venture capital funding, Wa’ed deployed SR43 million to SMEs, up 34 percent year-on-year

DUBAI: Wa’ed, the entrepreneurship arm of Saudi Aramco, trebled the amount of money loaned to startups in the Kingdom last year as part of its bid to support Saudi entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

The Dhahran-based initiative gave out 12 loans to SMEs, up from four in 2019, with the value surging to SR31 million ($8.27 million), up from SR10 million in 2019.

In terms of venture capital funding, Wa’ed deployed SR43 million to SMEs, up 34 percent year-on-year.

Established in 2011, Wa’ed has deployed more than SR375 million to Saudi SMEs as part of Aramco’s contribution to the Vision 2030 goal of diversifying the Kingdom’s economy away from hydrocarbons.

“I am grateful for the confidence and support we receive from Aramco and the Kingdom, which enables Wa’ed to fulfil its unique pioneering role as an advocate for innovative new businesses that localize technologies and services which are needed in Saudi Arabia and can help improve quality of life,” said Wassim Basrawi, Wa’ed’s managing director.

“In a very challenging year, I am proud of the Wa’ed family, which includes my team and our resilient entrepreneurs, for rising to the challenges and keeping us on track to deliver an even greater impact in 2021.”

Following the onset of COVID-19, Wa’ed adopted a virtual training model for its entrepreneurs, attracting 60 new mentors to its online training platform.

In December, Wa’ed signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate with OQAL, the largest network of angel investors in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, with the goal of creating a new pipeline of potential deals.

Looking to 2021, Wa’ed’s latest initiative is its new Venture Builder, which is described as a breeding ground for promising Saudi startups, providing entrepreneurs and SMEs with back-office services such as marketing, new business development and networking.


Gold ticks up on weaker dollar, US stimulus hopes

Gold ticks up on weaker dollar, US stimulus hopes
Updated 8 min 17 sec ago

Gold ticks up on weaker dollar, US stimulus hopes

Gold ticks up on weaker dollar, US stimulus hopes
  • Spot gold rises 0.1 percent to $1,854.95 per ounce by 0329 GMT
BENGALURU: Gold prices gained on Monday as the dollar eased and hopes that a massive economic stimulus in the world’s largest economy would be passed remained intact.
Spot gold rose 0.1 percent to $1,854.95 per ounce by 0329 GMT, recovering from a 0.9 percent decline in the previous session. US gold futures eased 0.1 percent to $1,854.30.
President Joe Biden’s administration tried to head off Republican concerns that his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal was too expensive on a Sunday call.
“We’re seeing bigger question marks over the passage of Biden’s stimulus package, Senate Republicans are starting to stand a bit more objectionable with particular parts of the package,” said Lachlan Shaw, National Australia Bank’s head of commodity research.
“So it does raise the question about the speed and the timing of the package.
(Although,) some of the issues of the vaccine delays in the US are perhaps tilting the balance in odds of favor of that stimulus,” Shaw added.
The dollar was down 0.1 percent against rival currencies, making gold cheaper for holders of other units.
Gold is considered a hedge against inflation, likely from widespread stimulus.
Also supporting the precious metal, global coronavirus cases rose to more than 98 million as countries struggled to increase the pace of vaccinations.
Investors now await the US Federal Reserve’s policy meeting due on Jan. 26-27.
“The Fed is likely to take the conservative course and wait for additional data and assume fragility, given the short-run effects of tackling COVID in the US more aggressively could weaken sales and domestic economic activity,” said Nicholas Frappell, global general manager at ABC Bullion.
“The longer term outlook and technical support remain bullish so above $1,840, look for moves back to $1,870-$1,880.”
Silver gained 0.7 percent to $25.58 an ounce, platinum rose 0.1 percent to $1,099.61, and palladium added 0.1 percent to $2,354.47.