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ANNIVERSARY ISSUE

Issue 7 April 2012 - May 2012 Price: AED10

www.theintelligentsme.com facebook.com/theintelligentsme

Gives your business an unfair advantage

SAMTECH
MEPCO GULF

KIMOHA
PARAMOUNT

A journey towards excellence


How to build your equity story Pg 68

SME Achievers

Pg 33

Attracting Investors

The Art of Focus


Its all in the details Pg 72
Strategic alliance partner

The No.1 Platform of Business Leaders


Corporate partners

Contents

APRIL - MAY- 2012

26 Knowledge is power
How does executive education affect the productivity and efficiency of an organisation?

30 EMBA Investing in your growth


Executive education, an investment for those who want to climb the corporate ladder quickly.

33 SME Achievers
The top 100 SME companies are a privileged crowd.

33
11 Rare & Fabulous
Success is a destination. Have you arrived?

64 Reaching out to the SME sector


Dubai SME has started preparing the Dubai SME 100 companies for better growth prospects in the future.

68 How to build your equity story


The needs and expectations of equity investors looking to invest in SMEs.

16 Passion is essential for success


Sultan Mahmood, CEO of So-Safe Water Technologies, explains how a niche product guarantees success to an entrepreneur.

70 Concepts for a lifetime of business


Zed Ayesh highlights some ways of managing resources efficiently.

18 Announcements
Important updates you might have missed.

72 What is the art of focus?


Businesses must focus on what matters. John Lincoln highlights why averages are a fallacy.

22 Lower your payment risk


Western Unions cross border solution for SMEs.

23 A winning business idea


Dus new reality show, aims to seed UAE entrepreneurs.

74 Driving enterprise performance


Strategic planning and enterprise performance will drive sustainability of SMEs in the long run.

26

84

Alliance partner

80
76 A simple SME productivity booster
Process documentation serves in efficiently managing company operations.

Supported by

78 Better safe than sorry


A safe work culture and care for environment leads to a brighter future.

80 Safeguard your wealth


If you have spent years making money, it is logical that you must pass on your assets to inheritors of your choice.

82 Regulations key to investor confidence


Farah Zafar comments on the real estate scenario in the UAE and the GCC.

84 Managing stress
Managing workplace stress is neither complicated nor expensive.

88 Connecting business and relationships


Close deals faster with good quality referrals.

91 Setting goals for success


Setting and achieving goals helps lead a better professional and personal life.

92 Are you a diehard optimist?


Anesh Jagtiani makes a case for diehard optimists on the road to success.

Be a Connector

98 Lets get social 112 Events calendar

88

114 Summing up

Chief Executive Officer & Publisher Shantanu A.P Account Director Vijay G. Editor Sandhya Divakaran Consulting Editor Utpal Bhattacharya Expert Contributors John Lincoln Phil Bedford Anesh Jagtiani Farrukh Naeem Zed Ayesh Dr.Sameer Kumar Nita Maru Corrina Cross Carole Spiers Amal Noureldin Dr. Edward Roderick Ehsan Razavizadeh V. Ramkumar Vinayak Doddihal Shraddha Barot Amariei Art Director Aneesh Varghese Web Designer Hoze M Editorial Enquiries & Contributions Tel: 04-2659704, 04-2650312 Fax: 04-2690566 E-mail: editor@spiholding.net Advertising Enquiries Tel: 04-2659704, 04-2650312 E-mail: info@spiholding.net Subscription Enquiries Tel: 04-2659704, 04-2650312 E-mail: subscribe@spiholding.net Response Executive Evelyn V. Bernasol SPI Publishing Post Box: 89735, Dubai, UAE Tel: 04-2659704, 04-2650312 Fax: 04-2690566, 04-2651708 E-mail: info@spiholding.net Website: www.spi-holding.com

Editors Note
T
One year later, here we are, enriched with experience, and more than ready to take on new challenges and rise to new heights: the ultimate objective is to be able to create a perfect channel for information sharing for the SME community in the country. We have always sought to bring to the fore the spirit of entrepreneurship in our publication, as the one common thread that binds all the different verticals of the sector. his issue is a milestone for The Intelligent SME team. We started this magazine last year in April, with a motto: to enable, enlighten and engage SMEs. Working towards this cause has given us many insights into the workings of the SME sector, and we are thankful for the many inputs given by various quarters of the industry pool.

As a publication, we take pride in being part of the changes that the Dubai SME is bringing to the sector in the emirate, especially the Dubai SME 100 rankings, which has celebrated entrepreneurs in Dubai. In terms of visibility and exposure, these companies have received a lot of attention, which is a sign of confidence with their clientele. We have sincerely tried to get to know this group of fast growing companies in this edition, and believe that they are special in the way they have overcome various challenges, turning these into opportunities and achieving phenomenal growth. These are defining times for the regions SME sector, as stakeholder and partners, including governments and financial institutions, among others, are coming together to help the SME sector to boost their performance. We hope to cover these developments in more details going forward. As always, we welcome your feedback. Write to us at editor@spiholding, and lets communicate!

Sandhya Divakaran

www.spi-holding.com www.theintelligentsme.com

Follow us on twitter: @intelligentsme Facebook: facebook.com/spi.holding

Disclaimer: SPI Publishing has endeavoured to bring out a publication that is reliable and informative. This is true to the best of our knowledge. The opinions presented are those of individual writers and not necessarily endorsed by SPI Publishing. The content in this magazine is protected by copyright law and is copyright to SPI Publishing unless credited otherwise, and may not be copied, reproduced or republished for any commercial purpose or financial gain.

TRAVELLING IS NOT JUST GOING FROM ONE PLACE TO ANOTHER.


Each moment spent in a Meli Hotel evokes a sense of our unique brand of hospitality built around you. The journey is in every sensation, in every detail that surprises you, in every person that shows you something new. Because traveling is a feeling, we ask that you savour every moment and allow it to linger for a lifetime. Its not our job, it is our passion. Welcome to Meli. The Meli experience coming soon to Dubai.

S U C C E S S I S A D E S T I N AT I O N

H AV E YO U A R R I V E D ?

WATCHES YACHTS DESIGNER JEWELLERY BOUTIQUE REAL ESTATE GADGETS EXOTIC DESTINATIONS FINE DINING

Rare & Fabulous

nnovative in form and function, RIM and Porsches new product the Porsche Design P9981 Smartphone is a work of art. Attitude is the name of the game here, with a stainless steel frame, a majestic QWERTY keyboard and 2.8 inch touch screen, 5 MP camera, HD video recording (720p) capability, 4X digital zoom, flash, face detection and image stabilisation and geo-tagging along with a whole bag of other features. The smartphone also boasts a 1.2GHz processor, HD video recording capabilities, 8GB of onboard memory, Liquid Graphics technology, a microSD expansion slot, an inbuilt NFC module and BlackBerry OS 7.

A work of art
I

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The Intelligent SME

Rare & Fabulous

Intimate, serene Viceroy Maldives


V
iceroy Hotel Group has launched the Viceroy Maldives, an intimate 61-villa island resort, set on the archipelagos pristine Vagaru Island. Each of the resorts luxury beachfront or water villas are nestled on the white sand beachfront or set directly on the turquoise sea. Private plunge pools, ensuite baths and generous outdoor areas in each villa allow for optimal privacy and superior comfort in an awe-inspiring setting. Viceroy Maldives feature some of the most spacious accommodations in the Maldives, ranging from 1,300 sq feet to 3,000 sq feet. The resorts fine dining options offer everything from

casual beachside cuisine to fine dining Italian fare. Those looking to relax and rejuvenate can enjoy indulgent spa treatments at the resorts over-water spa villas, which will include seven treatment suites for individuals as well as couples. Natural elements such as the sun, sea and Maldivian culture will be infused into holistic treatments, allowing guests to achieve an ultimate sense of well-being and healing. Ayurvedic treatment experiences and yoga classes will all be offered as part of the programme at The Spa at Viceroy Maldives. Visit www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/maldives The Intelligent SME 13

Rare & Fabulous

Alfies by dunhill
A

lfies, the contemporary and elegant British bar, lounge and restaurant by dunhill is the latest addition to the Boulevard at Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Situated alongside the dunhill store, Alfies Dubai is the third restaurant joining Alfies Shanghai and Alfies Hong Kong. Reflecting dunhills appreciation of the finest lifestyle experiences, the classic London interior style reflects a masculine and elegant design. The signature surroundings are defined by comfort coupled with a contemporary feel that entices people to spend time, whether for business or pleasure. Taking up his new challenge in Dubai, Christopher Driver, Chef de Cuisine at Alfies, is passionate about British cuisine and brings a wealth of cooking and leadership experience to his role. A menu of British classics epitomised by the finest quality ingredients, dining takes on a new meaning at Alfies. A place to dine, socialise and network, the tempting menu has been designed with a fresh interpretation of British fare to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner in a welcoming atmosphere. Timings: 12.00 noon to 1.00am. For enquiries contact Restaurant Reservations at Jumeirah Emirates Towers, 04 3198088.

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The Intelligent SME

Rare & Fabulous

Blue Marlin Ibiza celebrates its UAE opening in style


he UAE saw the opening of one more internationally acclaimed beach club- the award winning Blue Marlin Ibiza, at the Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel and resort on Ghantoot Island. The opening was dotted by the whos who of the international jet setting crowd and the UAE glitterati at the two-day extravaganza. An architectural haven surrounded by white canopies and contrasting clear turquoise waters, the club spreads over two floors, with relaxed beach vibe entertainment.

A weekend of beach, sun, celebrities and international entertainment

Together with a pristine beach for sunbathing and relaxation, guests can also chose from large circular beds, VIP areas around the DJ booth, and a sea of plush cushions, whether on the terrace or hidden near shades of rustling trees, to truly chill out. Throughout the day VIPs and celebrities alike could choose from a selection of dining areas and menu options, those who chose to chill out by the pool can enjoy a selection of snacks, salads and large array of mains and sandwiches, including

wagyu, tuna and seafood. Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE is an ideal weekend escape for all generations- a hideaway that takes you from day to night at an all-day lifestyle destination. The beach club offers its members an experience of different advantages, by also being the first private location in the UAE to provide additional access by yacht, through its private marina, and by helicopter. Contact +971 561133400 or e-mail reservation@ bluemarlinibiza-uae.com The Intelligent SME 15

Meet the CEO

Passion is essential for success


Successful entrepreneurs always offer a niche product with local demand. Jan DSa spoke with one such business owner, Sultan Mahmood, CEO of So-Safe Water Technologies.
amongst consumers, and gaining trust. We started focusing on educating our clients through frequent meetings and product demonstrations, which then helped them understand the benefits of purifying water. Another major challenge was installation, which was not only labour-intensive (we needed a dedicated team of plumbers to install these units) but also time consuming. Later on, we introduced DIY kits that enabled clients to install these systems. This proved to be successful and helped us gain volume orders. globally, the quality of water has also deteriorated. Hardness and TDS (total dissolved salts) levels have increased posing a lot of health as well as lifestyle problems. People do not only suffer from kidney stones, dehydration and other problems, but also spend more heating their water due to scaling problems caused by hard chemicals. Reverse osmosis and softening systems help solve these problems and provide water that is light and great tasting. Recently, we introduced Santo, a mineral water purifier that incorporates the latest in water treatment technologies, giving healthy and pure mineral water in homes and offices. What makes it unique is the flexibility to alter the taste or mineral content of the water to suit an individuals dietary needs or taste buds, while keeping the essential minerals intact. It incorporates all the necessary safety measures in its compact, accessible, and attractive design. Santo is an outcome of six years of our research, developed in partnership with vendors from the US, Europe, Korea and Taiwan.

SM: It was 1988. At the time water filters were not popular, yet I realised that there was a lot of demand for such filters. It boiled down to the fact that people never used filters for drinking, cooking, or even laundry. More primitive methods like boiling or filtering with a cloth were common practices in those days. However, scientific research proved that such methods were ineffective and did not guarantee adequate removal of germs and microorganisms. So-Safe Water Technologies was then launched to fill this niche, and we began importing water filters from the US. Today, while our head office is in the UAE, our products are distributed in more than 60 countries. Our global workforce is nearly 500 employees. JD: What were the challenges you SM: The biggest challenge at that time was the lack of awareness
faced in those days, and how did you overcome them?

JD: How did So-Safe Water

Technologies come into being?

16

SM: We began by introducing simple dirt and sediment removal filters. We became the first to introduce multistage purifiers that could also remove chlorine and organic chemicals as well as improve the taste of the water. To treat bacteria and viruses, we introduced Ultraviolet sterilisers that remove 99.99 per cent disease causing pathogens from water. As water consumption has risen

JD: What aspect of water

technologies do you specialise in?

The Intelligent SME

Meet the CEO

JD: What is it about Dubai that has

SM: The UAE is a developed market with very well established infrastructure and a multicultural outlook. Being in Dubai over the years has helped us gain access to numerous new markets around the world. However, while Dubai is still growing, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are becoming relatively more attractive for manufacturing companies due to lower costs and government incentives. JD: There seems to be lot more

always attracted you? Do you think that it will remain the business hub of the Middle East?

emissions from transportation and distribution, and protect our deserts and oceans from ever increasing pollution. From our research, we found that a small plastic bottle takes up to 1,000 years to biodegrade, yet an average UAE resident indirectly disposes up to 500 of these bottles in our landfills every year. At So-Safe, we focus on educating our consumers about the health and environmental hazards related to water, and have recently launched more eco-friendly alternatives that could save electricity.

SM: I have firmly believed that quality stands out, and we will always have its niche amongst quality conscious consumers. Low quality products are available everywhere, but they are not safe to use and they dont last long due to substandard raw materials and poor quality. Because water purifiers directly affect peoples health and lifestyle, we have never compromised on the quality of our raw materials or components in our purifiers. This ensures better retention and establishes an invaluable trust and loyalty towards our brand. JD: Where does So-Safe technology
currently stand amongst the sea of companies promoting green products and technologies?

contenders in the market with water technologies nowadays. How do you keep ahead of the game?

SM: While So-Safe is a family owned business, we have a decentralised structure, which is run like a professional organisation. As owners, we help define strategic goals and vision for our business, and have a talented team of professionals who put our plans to action. SM: We want to continue expanding in this region and maintain our market leadership by offering innovative drinking water purifiers as well as point of entry solutions. There is an incredible potential for centralised whole house purifiers in this region and we are at the forefront of tapping this market. Our recently launched Apollo water purification system, targeting villas and apartments, offers great benefits to local residents, at a very affordable cost. People often complain of hair loss or hard, dirty water from their taps, and they use the same unfiltered water to brush their teeth every day. Apollo gives crystal clear pure water in every tap. It transforms their shower experience by removing impurities and harsh chemicals from the water, and protects their skin and hair. It also keeps the clothes soft during laundry, keeps the fixtures, crockery and floor tiles shiny, and avoids scratches on the car surface while washing. JD: Where do you see So-Safe in five
years time?

JD: So-Safe is a family business.


Comment.

SM: The Turn to Tap campaign is an awareness initiative from So-Safe targeting schools, hospitals, government and private organisations by offering switch solutions to filtered tap water. This will not only help them save money every month, but will also give fresh, purified water 24/7 all year round. We are planning to conduct seminars, and participate in local awareness campaigns to help spread knowledge about the growing water problems of our region. JD: If there is one thing you can
share with budding entrepreneurs and SMEs about business, what would that be?

JD: Tell us more about the Turn to


Tap campaign.

SM: All businesses can be profitable. However, my advice to entrepreneurs would be, to never compromise on quality, avoid short cuts to hard work, and look for gradual progress. They should also remember to select products or business ideas that have local demand and international potential. Above all, it is important to be passionate from the heart about their business.

SM: Even though the trend of going green or eco-friendly has recently started gaining momentum, saving the environment has been at the core of our business from the beginning. Most people do not realise that bottled water has an enormous carbon footprint, and purifiers are the ideal alternatives from both health and environmental point of view. Purifiers help reduce waste by saving power used in manufacturing of plastic bottles, save water wasted during production, reduce fossil fuel

The Intelligent SME

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Announcements

Updates you might have missed


Young entrepreneurs rewarded AED200,000
marketing, customer service, operations, and other factors such as innovations and sustainability. Earlier, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, had announced AED2 million in financial rewards to the top 100 projects in YEC 2012, wherein each project will receive AED20,000. The Young Entrepreneur Competition was launched by Dubai SME as part of its commitment to the vision of H.H Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to sow the seeds of entrepreneurship among the younger generations at a very early age. Nurturing business skills among the youth also aligns with Dubai SMEs mandate to develop the SME sector.

Sheikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum with Sami Al Qamzi, director general, Dubai Department of Economic Development and Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO, Dubai SME at a ceremony to honour the best projects in the Young Entrepreneur Competition 2012.

heikh Mansoor Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, honoured the top 100 projects and the best 10 participating in the Young Entrepreneur Competition 2012 organised by Dubai SME, the agency of the Department of Economic Development mandated to develop the SME sector.

Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority has announced AED200, 000 in financial rewards to the best 10 projects in the competition, selected based on a set of criteria ranging from their commitment to rules of the competition and regulations,

120 days hassle-free licence by end of 2012


UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, will simplify procedures and facilitate business in Dubai. Dubai being a hub, various categories of businesses choose to set up in the emirate for faster growth and market access. The 120-days licence is part of DEDs efforts to enable businesses to make full use of the advantages of Dubai and improve the emirates ranking in the Doing Business Report of the World Bank, said Mohammed Shael, chief executive officer of the Business Registration and Licensing Division at DED. The new initiative will allow investors to have their licences issued immediately from DED, depending on the risk factors of the intended business activity. Business activities in Dubai have been categorised as no-risk, low-risk and high-risk

he Department of Economic Development (DED) will implement the 120 days hasslefree license initiative, aimed to give businesses in Dubai a head start and promote the emirates competitiveness, by the end of 2012. The initiative, being implemented under the directives of H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 18 The Intelligent SME

Mohammed Shael, CEO, Business Registration and Licensing Division, DED.

for the sake of evaluating the risk component. The categorisation depends on four main risk factors, evaluated on the basis of whether the business activity is harmful to human beings, animal life, plants, or the environment. When a businessman approaches DED for a licence, a 120-day licence is issued immediately, on completion of the necessary procedures, if the specific business activity falls under the norisk or low-risk categories, explained Shael. The 120 days licence allows the businessman to start his business immediately and complete the rest of the licensing requirements, such as approvals from other government authorities concerned, within the next 120-days. Government authorities are entitled to ensure full compliance of the licence holder to the licence criteria on day 121.

Announcements

Updates you might have missed


Takaful Emarat launches capital protected fund
investment arm of Riyad Bank, its credentials speak for themselves. Our product offerings are always based on the market needs.High inflation, uncertainty on investment returns and risk on capital loss are the key areas of concerns when it comes to saving for individuals. The Fund is designed to be a long-term saving venture with a high degree of capital protection that may be exercised at any valuation. The new Capital Protected Fund offers 90 per cent of the highest net asset value protected at all time. It is a global fund and is linked to the performance of selected Shariahcompliant stocks, chosen for their high cash flow and low debt to equity ratio. Participation in the fund is offered to Takaful Emarats new and existing plan holders of Education, Whole life and Wealth Plans.

akaful Emarat has joined forces with Saudi Arabias Riyad Capital to launch a new Shariah-compliant, capital-protected global equity investment fund called Takaful Emarat Capital Protected Fund.

Caption (From L-R): Adel Ateeq, senior vice president and head of asset management, Riyad Capital; Dr. Khalid Saqer Khalfan Al Marri, chairman of the board, Takaful Emarat Insurance; Ghassan Marrouche, CEO, Takaful Emarat Insurance at a press conference held recently in Dubai.

Ghassan Marrouche, CEO, Takaful Emarat, said at a press event: With this new saving opportunity, we are fulfilling our commitment to the market. Joining with Riyad Capital makes perfect sense as it shares our values, and as the

RED to acquire stake in The Entertainer


Riyada Enterprise Development (RED), Abraaj Capitals high growth small and mid-cap (SMC) investment platform, announced its intent to acquire a 50 per cent stake in The Entertainer, a boutique consumer services company offering discount vouchers for a variety of quality merchants, including top restaurants, hotels, spas and entertainment outlets. REDs investment will enable The Entertainer to strengthen its operations in existing markets, expand its footprint into new geographies and execute a strategy to enable customers to buy and use the vouchers over digital mediums and mobile networks. Commenting on the transaction, Tom Speechley, chief executive officer, Riyada

Enterprise Development said: We believe that this investment will serve to accelerate The Entertainers expansion, not only in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, but also in Asia where there are tremendous growth opportunities. Today, the US discount voucher market, serving a population of just over 300 million, is estimated to be worth US$4.5 billion annually. By comparison, the MENA market, with a nearly identical population size, is currently in the very early stages of its development. This indicates to us the scale of the opportunity for the sector and particularly for The Entertainer, which is the regions market leader, he added.

Tom Speechley, chief executive officer, Riyada Enterprise Development.

The Intelligent SME

19

Announcements

Updates you might have missed


DIBs award-winning service

Musabbah Al Qaizi, head of Electronic Banking Services, DIB, receives the award for Best Structured Product at a ceremony held recently in Dubai.

ubai Islamic Bank (DIB) won two awards at the recently held Banker Middle East Product Awards 2012 in Dubai. The bank won the awards for the Best Distance Banking Service and Best Structured Product categories. DIB was recognised in the Best Distance Banking Service for its electronic banking services, which is available through a range of platforms such as the new Al Islami Online Banking and the Al Islami Mobile service. The Bank also received the award for Best Structured Product for its Islamic certificate linked to the Deutsche Bank Liquid Commodities Apex Index. The Shariah-compliant certificate offers investors an opportunity to invest in commodity markets while benefiting from diversification across investment strategies.

French survey indicates optimism in UAE

A D

ccording to the results of a 2012 survey, there are grounds for strongly growing optimism amongst

Yolande Pineda, FBC director

the French business community in the UAE. Strong trading performance is driving business confidence and stimulating further investment and recruitment in response to an anticipated acceleration in business growth in the region over the next three years. The French business community in the UAE, represented by the French Business Council Dubai and Northern Emirates and French Business Group Abu Dhabi, has announced the results of its survey on business confidence amongst its combined membership. The growing levels of confidence are based on

strong sales performance in the GCC - and especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia - during 2011. FBC director, Yolande Pineda, said: These very positive survey findings and practical recommendations are especially welcome as we prepare to celebrate 25 years of the FBC in 2012. Despite all the regional and global uncertainty, French business has a solid belief in the UAE and is looking to build long-term commitments through investment, and this is a great testament to the government and its work to help attract and support French companies.

Dubai Exports targets GCC, Africa and Europe


ubai Exports, the export promotion agency of the Dubai Department of Economic Development, will attend major international exhibitions in 2012 as part of its strategic objective of focusing on key sectors and potential markets. The anchor events were identified through extensive research into the capabilities of the emirate and interactions with Dubai Exports members. The events will largely focus on the food and beverages, plastic paper packaging, and constructions and construction materials sectors, and enable local exports to target fast-growing markets in Europe, Africa, the CIS and the GCC. Dubai Exports closes in on the best and most needed exposure for local exporters based on inputs from our Export Market Intelligence and Exporter Services Department. The focus is on enabling local exporters to be present in strategic markets and be among the first to establish contacts with potential customers, said Mohammed Al Kamali, director of Export Market Development at Dubai Exports.

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The Intelligent SME

Business updates

Cross-border payment solution for UAE SMEs


estern Union has announced the launch of a service that gives SMEs in the UAE a new way to make fast and reliable cross-border payments in more than 140 currencies. The service allows SMEs to make fast account-to-account payments while improving their cash flow, managing currency fluctuation risk and receiving competitive exchange rates. Western Union Business Solutions, a subsidiary of Western Union, will offer the service through Emirates International Exchange. Jonathan Knaus, vice president, agent sales and implementation, Western Union Business Solutions, said: The growth and sustainability of SMEs is a critical component of the UAEs dynamic economic expansion. But when it comes to cross-border payments, SMEs have generally been underserved. Western Union Business Solutions understands this market and SMEs needs for cross-border regulatory and compliance expertise, multiple currency settlement options and broad availability, which we are able to offer through Emirates International Exchange. Traditionally known for its consumer-to-consumer payment 22 The Intelligent SME

Western Union Business Solution is a new service that facilitates payments in 140 currencies, while minimising and lowering payment risks. A TIS report.

services, Western Union entered the SME cross-border payment space with the 2009 acquisition of Custom House and the subsequent acquisition of Travelex Global Business Payments in 2011. Speaking at the launch event, Prrasad Katta, regional director- MEA, Western Union Business Solutions, said: According to The World Banks Doing Business Report 2012, the UAE has been the leading country in the MENA

region for enabling cross-border trade for three consecutive years. This is a direct result of the sustained efforts and investments by the UAE government to create an environment that encourages entrepreneurs and SMEs to trade across borders. In order for that trend to continue, SMEs need a fast, reliable and convenient cross-border payment mechanism, which hasnt been readily available to them until now. He also added that the product would offer modernised payment solutions to SMEs with minimum fluctuation risks. The payment

solution offers online tracking facility as well. The charge per transaction is AED40. Humaid Mohammed Shattaf, chairman and managing partner, Emirates International Exchange, added: We have shared a strong relationship with Western Union in the UAE over the last seven years, offering customers their core service of money transfer and remittance. The opportunity and need for such a payment solution is tremendous, and we are certain that this new product will definitely help SMEs in the UAE to benefit through convenient, fast and reliable payments. The launch event was followed by a gala dinner, where the chief guest of the evening was Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME, an agency of Dubai Department of Economic Development. Highlighting on the recent Dubai SME 100, he said: The Dubai SME 100 ranking will indeed provide new opportunities - both in terms of markets and development - for the SMEs. SMEs in and outside the rank will want to find out how others do it and learn from the best practices. It will also create market opportunities for our SMEs through networks and linkages. He said SMEs would benefit from services provided by agencies, such as Western Union.

Business updates

A winning business idea


The Entrepreneur, a reality TV show by Du, aims to seed UAE entrepreneurs with a multi-million dirham investment package.
communications, du, said: We are convinced there are many good ideas out there which needs to be heard and, which needs to be promoted. The UAE is brimming with fantastic entrepreneurial talent which just needs a platform to take it to the next level.The Entrepreneur aims to empower and support the new breed of UAE entrepreneurs that build new enterprises, which are innovative, sustainable and, most importantly, contribute meaningfully towards the social development of communities. This truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and for those with big dreams, I would say- go for it! Interested applicants can visit www.theentrepreneur.ae for more information. Highlights The competition is open to all UAE residents that have registered companies and are above 18 years. NGOs, societies, and associations are also welcome to submit their innovative business ideas. Shortlisted contestants from across the country will be invited to participate in an audition day where they will be required to pitch their ideas, product or business to the judges. After the final round of auditions only the 10 best contestants will be selected to be on the show and they will battle it out in the final round of challenges. In the final episode, only one deserving winner will walk away with AED1 million in cash plus professional services and support towards their business.

o foster new ideas in business, du, a UAE telecommunications company, is set to launch a reality TV show to give entrepreneurs throughout the UAE an opportunity to turn their business ideas into reality by offering financial and professional support. Titled The Entrepreneur, the show intends to empower entrepreneurs to venture into creating new businesses in a sustainable manner. Conceptualised by du, the show is aimed at both existing ventures that need investment for growth as well as high impact business ideas requiring start-up capital. The Entrepreneur is to air on Dubai One, a part of Dubai Media Incorporated, the exclusive

Hala Badri, executive vice president, brand and communications, du, Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO, Dubai SME, Muna Easa Al Gurg, director, retail, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, Nisreen Shocair, president, Virgin Megastore Middle East and Yogesh Mehta, managing partner, Petrochem Middle East and other dignitaries at the launch of The Entrepreneur.

broadcaster and du has commissioned the internationally acclaimed Sony Pictures Television Arabia as the producer of the show. The Entrepreneur will consist of eight episodes of 30 minutes duration aired in the third quarter of 2012. Ten entrepreneurs will qualify for the show, of which the winner will receive AED1 million in cash and professional services worth AED1 million. Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO, Dubai SME, Muna Easa Al Gurg, director, retail, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, Nisreen Shocair, president, Virgin Megastore Middle East and Yogesh Mehta, managing partner, Petrochem Middle East will comprise the evaluating judges of the show. Unveiling the show, Hala Badri, executive vice president, brand and

In the final episode, only one deserving winner will walk away with AED1 Million in cash plus professional services and support towards their business, worth another AED1 million.

The Intelligent SME

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Executive education

Knowledge is power
How does executive education in the UAE affect the productivity and efficiency of an organisation? Jan DSa investigates.
productivity and efficiency. Randa Bessiso, director-Middle East, MBS, says: We have seen Dubai and TECOM emerge as a regional hub for higher education and this has continued to attract more global institutions, so the supply side has developed strongly. Along with the greater integration of the region into the global economy and the rise of large regional organisations, the need to attract and retain high quality staff has never been greater. This has led to a rise in the level of interest in executive education and, in 2011, MBS undertook a regional survey (with the support of TECOM) of the market for executive education in the GCC, the results of which were shared with the community, Bessiso adds. MBS has since launched its new portfolio of executive education programmes for senior level executives. Rise of executive education Executive education programmes have always been in existence. In the US alone, executive education has become a US$800 million annual business in itself, according to online sources. In the UAE, the days when executives were flown outside the UAE to undertake training are now few and far between. The rise of global universities and training centres has made it easy for executives to attend training right here in the UAE. Apart from business schools such as MBS, Hult Business International School, SP Jain School of Global Management and INSEAD in Abu Dhabi that offer open enrollment programmes

he UAE has seen an influx of business schools and training centres that offer tailor-made academic programmes for senior level executives over the years. While they may be non-credit applicable, they are meant to help organisations increase capability and proficiency of their executives, for the betterment of organisations. The first ever study on executive education in the Middle East region was conducted in March 2011 by Dubai International Academic City and its academic partner, Manchester Business School (MBS). Through the study, titled The GCC Market for Executive Education, it is estimated that 500 human resources professionals and senior managers across various sectors in the GCC were involved. The objectives of 26 The Intelligent SME

the research were to help identify skill gaps that exist in the workforce, what impact the recession had on training budgets, what the companies perception was of return on investment (ROI) and what their expectations were from executive education (EE) providers. At the launch of the study, Dr. Ayoub Kazim, managing director, TECOM Investments Education Cluster said, A full-fledged evaluation to understand the needs of the market was a missing component, particularly with development budgets shrinking and organisations becoming more selective and conscious of returns on investment. MBS, which has been open since 2006 in Dubai Knowledge Village, is one such business school that focuses on organisations that are interested in developing and furthering their

Executive education

Business School publications was more on big names and a good or company specific programmes, (Michael Dell and the late Steve Jobs experience with little follow-up or many universities now have their have benefitted from CEO Clubs transfer of learning to the workplace. own executive training centres. For membership, according to the MBS Since 2008, there has been a much example, the Centre for Executive study). Iyad Mourtada, CIA, CMA, stronger link between learning Programmes and Professional CFE, owner of OpenThinking, is a and improving performance of the Services is the business arm of the firm believer in training that spreads individual and the organisation. The American University in Dubai. across two-three months as opposed drivers for this mind shift were Whilst the Abu Dhabi University to intense two-three workshops fundamentally economic - fewer Knowledge group hosts the Institute where executives are unable to digest people handling multiple roles meant for Executive Development, Institute information. According to him, most everyone has to be able to contribute for Vocational Development, of the companies are looking for more fully; smaller training budgets meant and Institute for Continuing specialised and localised training a focus on ROI rather than the number Development, there is no scarcity of right here in the UAE. of training days conducted; the business training centres in Dubai The MBS study indicates that imperative nature of nationalisation Knowledge Village. there is a high preference for most required meaningful, structured City & Guilds Group is seen companies to have their EE providers development of competence not just as the UKs leading and prestigious based in the country where their knowledge. qualification awarding body that business is situated. The partnership between the offers hundreds of vocational CEOs Club UAE in Dubai and qualifications across varied industries Preferred skill sets OpenThinkings state-of-the-art through approved global learning and The study highlighted that the learning centre allows high quality development providers. According to top skill sets had leadership, business interactive business programmes to Amanda Kelleher, regional manager, Figure 29: Preferred location of executive education provider by sector planning and strategy being the be delivered to the members of the City & Guilds Group, Executive most important, with international CEOs club UAE based on Wiley, education has shifted radically since business, negotiation, finance, and Pfeiffer, Capstone and Harvard 2008. Prior to that date, the focus

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Executive education

supply chain management being of least interest. It is reckoned that the priority will remain very much the same over the next three years with the addition of organisational development, innovation and creativity. Kelleher adds, Skills gaps exist at all levels; so, a structure development framework that provides for progression definitely helps. Regionally, the front line management level has been particularly neglected, especially in industries such as construction or hospitality where there is no tradition of management training. Here, technical skills are rightly given prominence, but the impact of training foremen, for example, in basic team and supervisory skills can be significant, especially on productivity levels. Developing appropriate skills sets here can have an immediate impact on the bottom line, whether it is in construction, engineering or retailing.

Why do companies opt against executive education programmes? The recession has created a dent in the training budgets, especially in the education sector. So, even if the EE provider shows traits such as reputation, understanding of business needs, quality of teaching and tailoring of content which were most important to organisations, price 28 The Intelligent SME

still remains the principal factor when it came to choosing an EE provider. There, however, seems to be a bit of hope that the budgets will increase over the next few years (40.9 per cent indicating a moderate increase and a further six per cent expecting a significant increase). Bessiso suggests that there are other factors, such as from top management to the HR function, and perhaps some companies do not know how best to deal with the training and development needs that may exist within an organisation and the wide variety of companies offering solutions. She adds, A commitment to executive education often comes through a corporate event or action that stimulates the decision and highlights the need- such as new market entry, new strategy, expansion, IPO, etc. As with individual students electing to do an MBA, usually a need or event sparks the decision. For individuals, this may be a career switch, move from a specialist or technical role into general management, or change of country or industry.

Is executive education really a necessity when an MBA is enough? In the first issue of 2012 of the Harvard Business Review, in an article on What Business Schools Can Learn from the Medical Profession,

the author Nitin Nohria, the dean of Harvard Business School explores how case studies used as part of the MBA courses, while great at helping students imagine what it would be like in a problematic situation, have their limitations. They can prove to be a let-down when the business students actually enter the workplace and are faced with real work challenges. Kelleher reckons that an MBA can be completed by individuals with little or no management experience, but professional executive education cannot; it takes time and practice to hone management and leadership skills after you have the foundation provided by an academic programme. Executive education and tailor-made programmes can, therefore, be beneficial to executives because it offers a hands-on experience right there in the course. The constant evolution of technology, economy and globalisation is a boiling pot for steep learning curves and makes it necessary for executives to learn new concepts and incorporate them into their own development, throughout their career. Bessiso concludes, The need or desire to continue to learn and develop does not stop with the award of an MBA and with the increasing pace of business; the need to re-train evolves into a career-long process and commitment.

Executive education

Executive MBA Investing in your growth


Executive education is a worthwhile investment for those who want to climb the corporate ladder quickly, notes Ehsan Razavizadeh.

or a few years now, the economies of the world have seemingly lurched from one crisis to another. Despite this, ambitious executives seeking to advance their career to the next level have continued to invest in their education. Indeed, even in very tough economic times, the Executive MBA (EMBA) degree remains one of the most worthwhile investments that executives can make. The reasons for enrolling into an EMBA course are many and diverse. Students include executives seeking to start their own enterprise, those on the lookout for a career change, or people in search of a fast way to climb the corporate ladder. Whatever the motivation, the intense leadership development, greater strategic vision and immediately applicable skills which are the hallmarks of an EMBA programme, will all help individuals fulfill their long-term career goals. In short, an EMBA is a great way to jump-start ones career. Because certain jobs require an MBA or EMBA as a minimum qualification, an EMBA student can get access to opportunities that otherwise might not have been accessible. The potential rewards of better earnings are another significant benefit of doing an EMBA. It is not uncommon to read about graduates from business schools earning more than what their parents did at their retirement age.

Benef its Equally, if not more importantly, however, there are more subtle benefits from going to a business school. First, is the intellectual stimulation that one can get from being in a classroom full of students from diverse backgrounds. Second, there is the opportunity to build a network and circle of classmates and alumni who will remain your friends, advisors and mentors for life.

nationality or gender. Many could find it much easier to move jobs and careers because the recruiting market considers MBAs to have transferable skills that can span across industries and geographies. Leadership The impact of the recent economic and financial crisis on management education has been very evident. The result has been the increasing importance and emphasis placed on leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation. An EMBA will inspire entrepreneurs to stimulate their talent and enrich their business understanding, enabling them to turn their ideas into commercially viable business ventures. Despite the challenging times, an EMBA is one of the most worthwhile investments that a working executive can make. Once the global economy strengthens, this investment could prove to be even smarter as EMBAs will be those who are prepared to seize upon new and exciting opportunities.

EMBA education is also a platform to acquire new skills and improve existing ones to become competitive in the job market. As the global financial markets continue to struggle, the primary goal of any organisation will be to focus on improved performance, productivity and expanding their customer base. Not surprisingly, more companies are looking to hire MBA talents to help them meet their goals. Then theres job mobility. The global village concept has broken down global boundaries for human capital, creating a level-playing field for everyone, regardless of their

Ehsan Razavizadeh is the regional director, MENA, of Cass Business School and head of Cass Dubai Centre.

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SME Achievers

Dubai SMEs ranking of the top 100 companies has boosted the confidence of the sector in the emirate. A TIS report.
ineteen lines of business, 1092 companies, one community. The SME 100 ranking has succeeded in shaping a representative cache of candidates within the SME sector. It is indeed commendable that these companies, engaged in various sectors, have aspired for global standards, while focusing on strategic growth. Launched by Dubai SME, an agency of Dubai Department of Economic Development, the Dubai SME 100 ranking is a list of the top 100 companies in Dubai. This ranking is meant to inspire SMEs to take their businesses to the next level, benchmarked with international standards. This will also be a tool to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the sector, in order to enable them further. based on both financial and nonfinancial dimensions- innovation, human capital development and international orientation- which broadly drive sustainable enterprise performance. At the heart of the evaluation process, evaluators seek on-site evidence and interview the CEOs and their top management team on their vision and leadership for a companys future growth. Hence, a real value to the SME is created from the Dubai SME 100 ranking, which differentiates it from other rankings. In addition, most, if not all rankings are done on a desktop basis and focused on one dimension - financial growth and key ratios. Finally, the ranking acts as a platform and catalyst to identify promising SMEs- to groom them to become bigger, better and sustainable enterprises; eventually graduating them. Recognition SMEs have been given the recognition of being an integral part of the Dubai economy. With an aggregate profit of AED220 billion, SMEs in Dubai are more than prepared to take their growth to the next level. The SME 100 ranking sets a benchmark for the sector for the first time ever, and industry insiders feel that this is going to not only boost the morale of the sector, but also give a At the Dubai emirate level, we are working with partners such as banks to account manage these SME 100 companies, including offering special financing packages. We are also providing support to these SMEs by way of letters to government agencies. By ranking in Dubai SME 100, SMEs stand to build equity and goodwill. Many will also be exposed to targeted capability building seminars to open their minds and awareness of new growth strategies, and network with other businesses, governments and investors. In addition, Dubai SME has established links with international partners, thus facilitating exposure to these SMEs, thereby building further visibility and goodwill for these SMEs, not to mention further business deals and new markets. SME 100 ranking?

The Intelligent SME spoke to Alexandar Williams, director, policy and strategy, Dubai SME, to get a better idea of the SME 100 ranking.

TIS: What are the unique


aspects of the SME 100 ranking?

AW: The Dubai SME 100 ranking is a performance-based development ranking where SMEs that participate will be given indicative and directional feedback on their performance and the attendant areas for improvements. This will help them improve their rankings in future cycles. The evaluation to be ranked is

TIS: How will this ranking benefit


SMEs?

TIS: What is the ultimate goal of the AW: Ranking is a means to an end.
The end in mind is to grow and develop these SMEs to become bigger, better and sustainable enterprises. We would like as many SMEs in the SME 100 initiative to
Continued to page 57

AW: SMEs ranked will be exposed


to various stakeholders in the market locally and internationally.

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fillip to the pace of growth.

Ranking recognition like this not only tells us how far we have come, but also tells us how far we need to go. We are proud and humbled at the same time, notes Premchand Kurup, CEO of Paramount Computer Systems FZ L.L.C, a company that has been in existence for 20 years in the UAE. Additionally, this ranking is a safeguard as Michael Lahyani, owner of Property Finder, suggests, because it is now a tool that will protect the top 100 companies from any negative happenings, such as unfair competition. These top companies have been selected to join a decidedly important community, the fast growing segment, he adds. The responses from the various business owners have been varied to the rankings, from sheer delight, to apprehension of what the future holds; but overall, there is a consensus of sorts among them, in that they all agree that a positive environment, combined with hard work, innovation and focus, is the key to success. Every member of our company is proud, as the belief that we are doing things right, our policies and processes are sound has been validated, affirms Ishwar Jodha, managing director, Triple Crown Logistics and Shipping. The journey behind Most of the ranked SME companies have been in Dubai for quite a while. They arrived when the local economy was growing and saw a bright future ahead. A growing market always absorbs companies that offer specialised services, and this is exactly what happened in Dubai. But in recent times, especially in the last few years, these companies were challenged at different fronts, primarily by the events of the global recession. However, today, a volatile business environment, trying financial circumstances, customer expectations and supplier woes have become a part and parcel of their
Continued to page 57

What does being ranked in the SME 100 mean for you and how will it make a difference in your business?
This recognition gives us confidence and pride in being the only company in the UAE providing home appliances by micro financing, following Islamic principles.

We hope that the ranking will increase our visibility and access to both foreign and local markets, allow more constructive conversations with banks and enable us with operational improvement tools.
Mohamed Nassar (Owner, WMS Metal Industries L.L.C)

Mohammad A. Bin Ghalaitha (CEO, Suntron Electronics)

We can already see the banking sector respond to the needs of SMEs with regard to credit policies and its only a matter time that the SME market grows into one that challenges the essence of the business sector in the Middle East.

Robert M. Keay (CEO, Ethos Consultancy)

The ranking has made us understand that our company is following standards which are globally recognised, to stay successful event in volatile market conditions.
Samir Ibrahim Abdal Hadi (CEO, SamTech Middle East FZ L.L.C)

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Rank
Dr. Omar Ghosheh, CEO, Dimensions Healthcare Operations: Dimensions Healthcare deals in health IT solutions. Working with about 1300 hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and authorities in healthcare, the company has solutions deployed in Oman, Saudi Arabia and Palestine, in addition to the UAE.

our operations are structured- IT, business and clinical. We do four lines of business, some of which are unique. Firstly we have the e-claim solutions, which transfers all the insurance claims to an electronic system. We are the largest e-claim solution provider in the UAE. We provide solutions to companies, and authorities to monitor. We provide systems, support, and training in the entire region. We also have another line of business, which we call the Pharmacy Benefit Management or the PBM, where we manage the benefit of the insurance companies with the pharmaceuticals. We partner with the largest independent PBM provider in the US, to manage the outpatient prescriptions benefits of over 1.4 million insured lives in the UAE. Around 900 pharmacies are registered to use the system today. The third line is the health information systems where we have management systems for pharmacies to conduct all their operations.

OG: We have three tracks into which

concept. We came with innovative solutions that handled not only claims, but solutions that were based around these claims. We look to manage healthcare, by providing cost effective quality care. We expect this to become a norm, more efficiency and more quality health care for the people. In the beginning it was difficult to explain the concept to potential partners. But now were much stronger, and we are, shall we say, a little more focused on our enterprise. The UAE is going to be transformed in a matter of years with more efficient systems to manage health care.

TIS: What is the structure of IT

solutions that you provide to the health care industry?

OG: We came into being at a time when e-claims were new, and health information systems were a new

TIS: Since you are in a niche

business, have things been easy?

OG: The key is team spirit, and innovation. We do things differently here, and were really proud of our innovation. We tend to come up with solutions that undo complicated situations. We make these complications awesomely simple. The team works on making these solutions as simple as possible for the end user, although there is a tremendous amount of engine work done in the background. The team is the star of the company, and many of our personnel were fresh from college when they joined the company.

TIS: What is the winning element


that brought on success?

In a volatile market what have you done differently to excel in


When recession hit in 2008 we grew our sales team by100 per cent and extended credit terms. It is in such volatile market when perseverance, vision and strong leadership matter and show.

A volatile market is a sign of growth in the economy because there is momentum. We have diversified our business to nearby Gulf countries and participated in local and international tenders.
Manoj Agarawal (Co-founder, Relays Engineering Consultants)

Dr. Sassan Dieter Khatib-Shahidi (CEO, German Imaging Technologies Dubai L.L.C.)

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TIS: How will recognition from OG: The attention that Dubai SME has given us is significant by itself. Im very pleased that we are at the top, especially since Dubai is credited as one of the best places to do businesses. There is significant value to this achievement. Dubai SME is now helping us to take the company further, possibly to the secondary market. We are also getting significant help from the agency if we need to establish contact with potential clients and partners outside the country within the GCC. Were trying to expand and expose ourselves. This ranking has churned a lot of interest for others in our company, which helps us grow faster. We are in a sector that is less vulnerable to changes in the economic climate, where the demand usually stays high, and that is a huge advantage. Secondly, the demand pushed by regulators also helped us at the time, to push for electronic change. There was a limited impact. The sector still grew at the time. We stayed on track and the market didnt really change. What I noticed however, is, that always during the difficult times,
Dubai SME 100 benefit your company?

there is ample room for opportunities.

OG: When we started as a small company, we wanted to expand, but financially we were not considered worthy by many institutions. This limited our growth to an extent. Finding talent was also a challenge. OG: We have very ambitious plans. We are moving towards focus on two key areas: one is taking our existing solutions to a national and regional level. We are also taking our expertise in solutions to other sectors besides health. By the end of the year, we will be setting up offices in two other GCC countries to offer our products to bigger IT/healthcare companies established there. Our hope is to grow fast, and most probably by 2015 to be a large enterprise. We are aiming to move out of the SME bracket. As for next years ranking, there will be fierce competition. Its easy to receive the number one spot, but retaining it will be the tough job. I think if we are focused and stay true to our goals, we should stand first again. TIS: What are your plans for the
future?

TIS: What challenges did you face

during the course of your business?

OG: We are not a traditional company. Our staff consists of people aged between their twenties and thirties. We work differently. We dont have strict hours, or time sheets to monitor if the staff comes late and so on. We trust people to do their part. Dimensions Healthcare is a deliverables-oriented company. We take care of our employees. We have let our employees share the value received as we grow. We give them incentives. They are encouraged to take ownership and they are equally proud. The sky is the limit for them, and they can go to any lengths to innovate. Im very proud of the team; they are the essence of the company. OG: I would say, Dubai is a place where you can realise your dreams. If you can present it well, nothing can stop you. Prove yourself and dont rely on a hunch. Make people realise that you are efficient and hardworking. The first two years of our business were tough, but patience and persistence have helped us reach where we are today. Also, there is no such thing as fast gain. TIS: What advice would you give to
budding entrepreneurs?

TIS: What is your management


philosophy?

your business? What insights have you gathered?


I have learnt that business is a full time life commitment and there is no such thing as time-out. It requires full devotion, incessant dedication and countless sacrifices. But it is all worth it and I wouldnt have it any other way.

We tookdeferringmake the company financially sound.and retention ofreduction of steps to This included inventory of capital expenditure, cost control earnings. We
K. Sethuraman (CEO, Gulf Sea Food L.L.C.)

Dr. Jeehan Abdul Qadir (Owner, American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery)

learnt to adapt to market conditions by developing products based on the requirement of our customers providing better value.

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TIS: Youve ranked among the top 10 ML: This recognition is important for
of the Dubai SME 100 ranking. What does this recognition mean for you? us. I think what is innovative about this ranking, opposed to any other, is that it comes from the government. We are recognised as an important part of the economy of Dubai and this serves as a safeguard; it protects us from any untoward incidents or unfair competition. This means the world to an entrepreneur, as we are investing in a business, putting in all the time and effort and like to be offered guarantees. in Dubai. What have you done differently that has resulted in the growth of the company? established our business ideas, and these cannot be changed in

TIS: Its been a volatile market

ML: As entrepreneurs, we have

accordance with the business climate. However, we have benefited from this economic crisis mainly because of our online offering. Real estate agents could not afford to pay huge sums of money for outdoor advertising or TV campaigns; therefore, they had to look for other alternatives. We were offering them the perfect alternative, a cost effective marketing solution by allowing them to list their properties. The benchmark for successful marketing was print advertising, now it is online. We kept our costs tight, focused on our core competency of

CEO and founder, propertyfinder.ae Operations: Property Finder is an online platform that generates leads for properties listed by real estate agents for a subscription. Over 250 companies are currently listed with the website. Subscriptions are given out to RERA registered agents.

Michael Lahyani,

In a volatile market what have you done differently to excel in


It has been a tough market climate and we had to strategically revisit our organisational objectives, business share and assessed projects that were worth pursuing. We have also diversified and expanded our network and built solid partnership with renowned business consulting firms.
Ahmed Tahlak (CEO, Levenbert)

Health care is a unique industry, which is relatively resistant to market volatility. We have grown in terms of turnover and market penetration by applying innovative business tools coupled with enhancement in our customer service and quality certification. Dr. Faruq M. Badiuddin

Kimohaand laid faithtried to keep pace with the growth opportunities offered has always in Dubai in combating recession by creating an infrastructure. We believe in the old business adage - grow or perish.
(CEO, Eastern Biotech and Life Sciences FZ L.L.C) Vinesh Bhimani (Co-founder, Kimoha Entreperneurs Ltd.)

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delivering value to our clients and we didnt give up on our prices. We have come out far stronger now that the worst of the economic crisis is over. we were able to dictate our payment terms as we were able to ask for post-dated cheques, and our collection improved dramatically. and what we will keep on doing.

TIS: What differentiates your

ML: Were in a business where real

company from the competition?

TIS: What lies in the future?

TIS: Are you looking forward to next ML: We look forward to it, as were
years SME ranking? expecting big growth numbers by the next ranking in 2012 and 2013. We know that competition is going to be fierce, but the numbers are going to be very good, and we intend to continue our innovation, and better our resources, so well be better equipped to face the next ranking. to entrepreneurs beginning their journey?

TIS: What factors have hindered your ML: One of the challenges was
success? getting paid. As we got stronger,

estate agents can easily monitor the return they get once they take a subscription on property finder. If they dont get results, they dont renew their contracts. Our selling point is the response. We guarantee a response to any agent who lists properties on our website. We have different levels of subscriptions. We only give subscription to RERA registered agents to drive their leads online.

ML: We have plans to expand in

the region. Weve already opened in Qatar and business is flourishing. Were also looking at other countries in the region. Our vision and goal is to be a leading property portal of the Arab world by 2015. As for the layout of the website, we constantly develop new platforms; its a constant evolution process. Now we focus only on the online edition, although we are planning on bringing back the print edition with a magazine, but it will be more of a support to Property Finder as a website. We will have a selection of listings inside the magazine, but its still in planning stages. However, we will still remain within the real estate segment, as this is what we know, what we understand

TIS: What advice would you give

ML: Every company needs to give

a push to their services or products, therefore it is important to have patience and perseverance. As a new entrepreneur, one should be persistent, try out new strategies if something does not work out, and believe in themselves.

your business? What insights have you gathered?

If we offer marketing, then we will succeed needs,ifbacked with intelligent the right product that the market investing on even general economic environment is on a downturn.

Sunil Ramchandani (CEO, Vitavision Medical Supplies L.L.C)

To succeed in this difficult and volatile market, the service we offer needs to be better than what our competitor offers. We dont worry about profitability, which we believe, if we execute contracts propertly, will take care of itself.

We have understood that when building the business you must manage both organic and geographical growth in a sustainable manner. Corporate governance, right from the begining, makes a sound foundation for the road ahead.
Ishwar Singh Jodha (CEO, Triple Crown Shipping and Logistics L.L.C)

Jose Thomas (CEO, Middle East Prestressing L.L.C)

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Rank
Hassan Al Hazeem

Managing Director, Intercoil International Co. Ltd. Operations: Three manufacturing divisions polyurethane foam, furniture, mattresses. Intercoils core business is the production and distribution of sleep products under three brand names, Intercoil, Therapedic, and Simmons.

HH: In the beginning we supplied directly to the UAE market and had dealers in other countries in the region. In 2005 we made our first venture outside the UAE - we established our presence in Muscat by setting up our first distribution centre. Today, we have distribution centres in seven different countries. We deal with customers directly from these centres. In addition we have 20 retail outlets - eight in UAE and 12 in GCC, Lebanon and Jordan; we export to 20 countries in the MENA region. We have three channels of distribution. Firstly, we sell directly to the consumer, then we sell to furniture retailers, and we also sell to small retail outlets through our distribution centers. We also target the hospitality industry and government institutions and departments. For the past few years, while expanding geographically, we have been focusing on retail. We have one manufacturing unit in Dubai, and one soon to open in Ras Al Khaimah. TIS: What is your opinion of the HH: Any recognition enhances our responsibility. We have to become more responsible and work harder. It motivates us to reach higher levels of
recognition received from the Dubai SME 100 ranking?

TIS: When did you start operations in


other countries in the region?

TIS: What is your view of the

growth. We are happy to be number four, and we will try to be number one next time. Dubai SME has identified our strengths and weaknesses through a set of parameters and we will follow the same to grow further. The learning process itself is very rewarding and we are grateful for that. I never actually apply for the recognition; it is more for the learning process. Our purpose was to learn. It gives an holistic view of the organisation. Im happy that there is more focus on the SME sector and hope that the government and the banks hopefully, would be more supportive of the SMEs, in terms of growth. industry? How have things changed for SMEs like yourself after the economic downturn?

HH: After the recession, I see that there is more awareness of the SME sector as an important contributor to the economy. There may be change of mindset of the banks, but still, lots more remains to be done. The extent of securities, the processes, everything has to be reviewed and restructured. My background is banking, so I know there are a lot of changes still to be made. The banks are still stringent in lending towards SMEs. A transformation of the system has to be made. During the recession, we were on a growth track. We kept on expanding. I think what happened at the time is, most companies were

How will qualifying among the top 100 SMEs affect your business?
Paul Michael Gledhil (Co-founder, XpertLearning)

We are very appreciative of thatrecognition. Itassistance from,atowhole network of the has opened up individuals and organisations we can seek enable us to grow and develop on so many levels.

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carrying out businesses where they were not able to ensure if they had the right infrastructure in place. There was no analysis of the performance to cope with any change in market demand, and many companies suffered. In my opinion, if you are a successful company, you should be able to adapt. So our aim is to build a sustainable, fast growing company that can proactively adapt to changes in the market.

TIS: Do you know how changes


can be brought about in the manufacturing industry?

HH: There should be more support for local manufacturing. We still have complications for expanding in the region. We still need a local partner to set up a business in certain countries in the GCC. We require assistance from the government in helping UAE-based companies set up in the country and in the region. For instance, we did face challenges in opening up retail outlets in certain emirates in the UAE. This needs to be amended for the sake of the home grown companies. In some instances, SMEs do not have the political influence, and they need support in overcoming such obstacles. TIS: What are your plans for the
future? HH: We want to be closer to the consumer, and strengthen our position as a regional player. I have

HH: When I took over the company, I had to rebuild the entire company, because I had a different vision. The company has undergone a re-think in terms of HR policies, export orientation, building the brand, entering into the social media space and so on. We invested on an ERP from Microsoft and introduced international management standards to enhance our efficiency. We changed the company from its foundation. HH: Our vision is to be the market leader in the region, and our value proposition is to provide superior quality, products, and services, and reasonable value for money. It sounds simple, but it requires a lot of work TIS: What is your vision?

TIS: How have you brought about


innovations in your company?

explored the possibility of expanding in European markets, by studying consumer behaviour, and the trends and our capability to export to these markets. We have positive feedback. However, our priority and goal at the moment is to strength our market position and achieve leadership in Mena and Levant region. We would also like to position our showrooms as sleep galleries with bed linens, pillows, we would have a comprehensive offering with lights, music, and so on. In short, a comprehensive line-up of products for the bedroom.

HH: I have one policy: discipline, decentralise, and delegate. We select self-disciplined people, who are talented and committed to the organisational values, and decentralise the system by delegating authority and responsibility to each member in the organisation. This helps us achieve organisational objectives and KPIs. This way we dont manage the people, but the systems. HH: Always be motivated. Thinking big is important; it does not mean that if you are a small company you cannot have big objectives or policies. You shouldnt let your current status or size affect your decisions. Most importantly, do not let your profitability be the only indicator of your progress. TIS: What advice would you give to
new entrepreneurs?

TIS: What is your management


philosophy?

and investment in quality systems, efficiency in cost and material as well as processes. If you are not efficient, you cannot perform and you cannot provide superior quality. We always try to improve and upgrade ourselves. Thats our USP. We work in a scientific method, managing responsibilities that usually larger organisations follow. We listen to our consumers; undertake market studies for wholesale and retail sectors. We are creative and efficient.

We are celebrating this ranking as a victory for the entire real estate sector. We have shown that with sound business strategy, we can turn challenges into a pathway to success.
Rajan Israni (Managing Director, Caistor Associates Ltd.)

The Intelligent SME

41

FB: The company was started as an offshore organisation in Cyprus, as a small partnership with my partner and our spouses. We were selling paper at the time to a Middle East market. Although we were growing steadily, we were quite conservative in terms of expansion, but obviously we know that if you dont expand, you stagnate, and always need to have a new project. Based on the growth of the company, my partner and I decided to establish a base in Dubai, owing to its nature of being a business hub. I still remember, at that time too, we felt we had been too late in coming to Dubai. Cooming here proved to be the right decision. So we had a branch office in Cyprus, because at the time we had started distribution in the Mediterranean countries. FB: We are paper indenters, and we have established contact with mills from different countries and we sell paper on their behalf to the region for a commission. However in 2006, I bought the shares of my partner and set about changing the modus operandi of the company. As the strategy of incurring just a commission was not right for us, we decided to invest in the business to change it into a trading business. We bought the goods and began to sell it ourselves. This gave us more strength financially; we were able to negotiate prices and increase our margins eventually. From 2006, we expanded further. We opened an office in India and Tunisia, for their proximity to other markets such as North Africa, and parts of Asia and this way we reduced
42 The Intelligent SME

TIS: From a company in Cyprus,

Rank

how did you come to set up in Dubai?

Fadi Baaklini

Managing Director,MEPCO Operations:Paper traders, selling paper on behalf of external mills to clientele in various markets. the response time: the sales were generated faster. We started an office last year in Lebanon for the same reason.

TIS: How was business prior to the


economic crisis, and what changes did you make?

merchants or stockists, those who already import and supply, so that we are not a threat to small enterprises in the same field. We cover 36 countries, with about 300 regular clients. In all we have about 1600 customers in our database. We also supply to copier businesses based on specific brands, which are contract based as well.

TIS: When did the modus operandi of


the company change course?

FB: We supply mostly to paper traders, newspaper organisations, stationeries, and we cover the entire spectrum of papers and boards. We also supply to large printers, local

TIS: Describe your clientele.

FB: This is one differentiating factor in our company, which has led us to our current position of growth. We are quite conservative in our cash flow management. I think this is key in every company. We dont expand on credit. The kind of business that we do, we call it guaranteed receivables where we dont have inventory, which means we dont have stock. So if the market goes down, we are not caught unawares with a few million dollars in stock. We place orders with mills against ones that we have received from the client. We have different payment schemes as well, either with a deposit, or sometimes we are financed by the mill. This way our model of business is relatively safe. So we werent really affected by the economic downturn. On the contrary, our audited statements will show that we made tremendous amount of sales during this period. I might say we even foresaw the economic scenario, because many of our competitors were buying on credit from the mills, without even getting orders from clients. They also gave an open account of 120 days, which, needless to say, sometimes never even got paid. We are strict in assured payments. We had a phenomenal year in 2011. And this is in spite of the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and now Syria. Despite

Special focus

these difficulties, we have managed to double our turnover and our results. This is proof that our operational style and our strategy are right, in the fact that we have been selected by an organisation like Dubai SME as one of the top ten companies in Dubai! Another advantage that works for us is that we own all our offices, whether it is Lebanon or Tunisia. Therefore, we dont have too much competition. In terms of products, we keep abreast of the trends, and we see that printing is slowly reducing because everything is online now, whereas packaging is on the upward curve. So were slowly realigning our strategy to accommodate more packaging.

The business then follows value, whereas others look at a volume-based business. This would affect our clients prices, and only the client is happy. Traders like us will not be happy about this. As for the disruptions in the Middle East, we took our business away from the affected areas and supplied to the safer markets. For example, when there was unrest in Tunisia we shifted our tonnage and went straight to Morocco. The results have been phenomenal.

believe in micromanagement, but we have conference calls, to exchange information and so on. So everybody has to feel that they can take decisions on their own.

FB: We face a lot of competition from Chinese suppliers. They import pulp, machinery, and they are beginning to supply to our markets as well. But they work through many channels, and they do not differentiate between large or small organisations, often giving the same price, which in turn affects our business. The client sees no value in the products that we offer because they offer the same at a much lower price. Every market has to have a sales policy. In a market like Saudi Arabia, there may be 1000 potential customers, but we are able to supply only 50. We need to distinguish the client with the products, which Chinese suppliers most often dont understand. The Arab Spring was another serious challenge. TIS: And how did you overcome FB: Well, right now were trying
these challenges?

TIS: What challenges have you faced


in your journey as an entrepreneur?

FB: We plan to expand further with the same policy of being in proximity to our markets; the next possible plan would be to have a regional office in Nigeria, because this is also a very profitable market for us. This way we would cover the East African markets. Were also discussing new partnerships with new mills in packaging grades. TIS: What does the recognition of FB: Being part of the SME 100 ranking is recognition for the team. Of course, I cannot do all this myself. We are a close knit family here in the company. Our strength is that we have small teams in every office, but were extremely efficient. The ranking came as a pleasant surprise. We are already feeling the exposure, in the way banks regard us now, our suppliers and our customers have more confidence in us. FB: Two words - delegate and empower. We give incentives to every member of the team and we need this excitement to give our all to the business. Our sales managers are encouraged to manage their territories as separate companies. I dont TIS: What is your management
philosophy? being ranked in the Dubai SME 100 mean for your business?

TIS: What are your plans for the


future?

FB: We have a newsletter that we send our clients focusing on the trends of pricing, product, market updates and so on. This is appreciated by our clients, so they know whether to place orders or not and the approximate quantity. This enhances our transparency with our clients, and enhances goodwill. Were also working on a blog for our clients on the same lines with forecasts and availability of products. We participate in trade exhibitions all over the world, which generates leads. We also have a private MEPCO conference where we exhibit products to our key customers; this is well received. FB: Be honest, dont commit to something that cant be delivered. Perseverance is a trait that you must have, along with a lot of patience. Be open minded to new things, as you can never stop learning. Always acknowledge the fact that at a certain point, you cannot do everything, and that there might be people who can do something much better than you. It is also important to set targets in your life. Once you set a goal, you unconsciously begin to work towards it. My goal in the beginning was to have a company by the age of 30, because between the age of 30 and 40, you can physically work very hard, travel, stay late into the night. From 40-50, its a different time, and I wouldnt recommend anyone to start a business at this age. Its the time for the strategy and business development. And thats what I do now, I dont push myself too much.
The Intelligent SME 43

TIS: What marketing strategies do


you have in place?

TIS: What advice would you give to


budding entrepreneurs?

to form partnerships with them, but the work ethics they follow are completely different from ours or European, North American, or even African markets. We try to maintain exclusivity with our brand, which adds a certain value to the products.

Rank TIS: How did you choose this area of AA: My father established this company along with my brothers and myself after his experience of working in the Middle East in the oil sector. In the beginning, we contemplated on the kind of business to invest in, and the plastic industry seemed very interesting. My father had the technical acumen from an earlier investment of an unsaturated polyester resin comay. We started the company with the help of highly technical people with experience in the business and focused on establishing a high standard company to supply colorants and additives in the region; back then, it was predominantly being imported from Europe. We found that this would be a niche that would give us an advantage, being a local manufacturer. We could support customers logistically, and Dubai was a great location to export from. Also, it was important to identify a niche business that does not become too repetitive. Even today, we dont have much competition in the UAE. There are others who make similar products, but they are not specialists in colour and additive, they are more into the commodity side of the business. TIS: How was your company AA: Before the recession, we were focused so much on the growth of the company that we did not look inward to see where the real value and profitability came from. So, towards the end of 2008, we were holding onto a very large high-priced inventory, and no longer was the market ready to absorb those prices and with the slowdown they didnt want the products. One of the advantages of being an SME is that we can sit at a table and make instantaneous decisions that can be implemented,
affected by the onset of the economic crisis? operations? Would you call yourself a niche business? especially during a crisis. We contacted our suppliers, most of them being large multinational companies, and negotiated successfully with them. They were pleased with our transparency and honesty and agreed to take back much of the over stocked and high priced raw materials.

AA: We started 2009 with a clean slate, and one of the things we did in that process was start looking more carefully internally. We reworked our business model based on our product mix, concentrating on more of a value-add approach rather than a volume-based one. We were quickly able to generate the highest profits in 2009 as compared to all the other years from 2000 to 2008. We, actually, benefited from the crisis because instead of trying to grow the volume of sales, firefight the growing requirements of customers, we focused more on value addition and the core competency. Our business is now strong and till now we have been seeing better profits than what we made during the booming years of Dubai. AA: We are an SME and the benefits of an SME is that the board can meet up and take decisions, in this case, my father, two brothers and an external director sat down and took the decisions. My father and our external director have the technical experience. My brother Ahsin Aman, who is the CEO of the company, has a great deal of financial expertise, while my second brother has experience in the procurement and production side. We wear two hats, as a board member and an executive. AA: There were a lot of customers who delayed payments due to a cash TIS: What challenges have you faced
in the course of your business?

TIS: Did you make any other


changes internally?

COO, Enerplastics L.L.C Operations:A B2B manufacturing company, which produces raw materials in the form of colorants and additives for the plastic industry. The UAE accounts for a small share of the operations. The company was established in 1999, and manufacturing began in 2000. crunch in their companies. We hadnt faced that before, and for at least six months in 2009, we faced a lot of delayed payments. Luckily, we had year-on-year growth and banks supported us. A lot of our customers were in the construction business and manufacturing plastics for this sector. There were severe economic problems predominantly in East Europe, and our customers in these areas stopped buying completely. Therefore, our market shrunk for about six to eight months. In fact, in the GCC the effect was much less. situation?

Akhtar Aman

TIS: Being a family owned business,


how do you ensure targets are met?

AA: I believe small is beautiful, and we made more money in a shrunken, lower capacity sales than we did previously, so we realised that it wasnt a number game, but rather the product mix and the value addition. We decided we would refocus our direction away from the commodity sector within our product range and focus more

TIS: How did you overcome this

The Intelligent SME

45

Representatives of

www.mondigroup.com

www.sicomo.com.lb

www.favini.com

www.hansolpaper.co.kr/eng

Fine Paper: UWF, CWF, Carbonless Paper Boards : Duplex Board, FBB, SBS, Greyboard Mechanical Paper : LWC, SC, Newsprint Speciallty Papers : Watermark, Colour embossed text and cover, Sticker Paper Brown Grades : Flutting, Testliner, KLB,WTL
DUBAI (Head Ofce) T: +971 4 4230640 F: +971 4 4230639 mepco@mepcogulf.com www.mepcogulf.com P.O.Box : 37921 Dubai, U.A.E.
TUNISIA T: +216 71 809 485 F: +216 71 809 485 mepco.tunisia@mepcogulf.com www.mepcogulf.com 12 Rue Mokhtar Loghmani 2005 Menzah 7, P.O.Box 420, Cedex Tunis - 1080 INDIA T: +91 422 3065770 mepco.india@mepcogulf.com www.mepcogulf.com No.415 1st Floor, 9/26/2C Dev Regnant Cross-Cut Road, Gandhipuram, Coimbatore - 641 012, Tamilnadu - India.
LEBANON MEPCO GULF L.L.C Hazmieh 976 Bldg 3rd Floor Ofce # 12-13-14 Beirut. Lebanon T: +961 54 56 728 F: +961 54 56 729 mepco.lebanon@mepcogulf.com www.mepcogulf.com

Range of Products

JORDAN TUNISIA LEBANON EGYPT SYRIA LIBYA IRAN INDIA UAE PAKISTAN KUWAIT SRILANKA BAHRAIN THAILAND KSA MALASIA QATAR PHILIPPINES OMAN NIGERIA YEMEN GHANA ALGERIA TANZANIA MOROCCO SOUTH AFRICA

Special focus

Key Facts and Figures of SME 100

A total of 1092 SMEs registered for the rankings, of which 196 SMEs applied to move on to Stage two of the application and evaluation process. From these 196 serious applicants, the top 100 were selected and ranked based on complete submissions of financial statements, supplemented by either a management interview or site visit to ascertain facts and evaluate the merits of each case. Of the 100 ranked SMEs, based on Dubais official SME definition, 15 per cent are classified as micro SMEs, 52 per cent as small SMEs and 33 per cent as medium-sized SMEs. In terms of sectors, 62 per cent are from the services, 13 per cent are from the manufacturing and 25 per cent belong to the trading sector. The combined turnover of the top 100 SMEs based on their latest financial records is estimated at AED2.3 billion. Their estimated total assets are at AED1.4 billion and the combined profit is AED220 million. Together, the top 100 SMEs in Dubai have 4,319 employees. attention and resources to clients who were buying our specialty commodities. We expanded into territories that we hadnt explored as much, such as West Africa Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast - to compensate for the East Europe sales that had gone down. Then we became much more aggressive in East African countries, such as Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, as we did with Saudi Arabia and Iran. Currently, we have formal distribution arrangements with 32 different countries, but outside of that we supply to 38 different countries across South Asia, Africa, Europe and the Levant. We are a unique company in that the family members handle various departments in the organisation. Everybody has their own domain of work and independence. our clients and their clients are confident in doing business with us. When we announced our ranking to our distributors, they wanted more information from us to send this to their clients. The level of reliability and our standing as a company compared to the other competitors has increased, and they see value in our company. give start-up entrepreneurs?

TIS: What marketing strategy have

AA: Were a family run business, so all the life of my father, the former CEO and the executive chairman of the company now, has been professional. One of the qualities he brought into the company is that even if it is a family owned business it has to be professionally run. From day one when we started, we invested 40 per cent in quality control and 60 per cent in production. This is rarely seen in other businesses, because quality control doesnt bring in profits. Our executive chairman believes that in order to be sustainable, we have to have the ability to compete with the best in the industry, and for that factors like quality control and human resources become very important.

TIS: What is your management


philosophy?

AA: Another thing weve learnt from the economic crisis is to spread our risk, by segment and territory. We dont want to focus in just one industry, say the construction industry within the plastic segment. We dont want to rely on one country as this spreads our risk. Moving forward our strategy is to get into niche, specialised products where there is less competition. So in 2010, we invented and patented our own oxo-biodegradable additive for the manufacture of plastic film, which would render the film biodegradable with a useful life of one year, after which it would degrade and eventually bio-assimilate into the soil. We have already started supplying this internationally.
Dubai SME mean to your business?

you employed to achieve phenomenal sales?

AA: Its great that whatever we have been doing has been recognised by an external party. Its a great pat on our back. We are proud and confident that what we are doing is correct. What this also means to us is that, being an export oriented company,

TIS: What does the recognition from

AA: Cashflow! When we started, we had no access to funding, and we had 100 per cent equity finance for machinery, and so on. But we constantly required an injection for working capital. Entrepreneurs need to think of the sustainability of their cash flow. Today, the world is more global, access to manufacturers is becoming easier, and so is the chance of meeting ones competition. Therefore, now, I would say, businesses need to try to get into niche products or services. Dont enter into a me-too business, which is going to be harder to sustain, especially if youre starting up, because there may be other businesses that may be doing the same more cost-effectively and efficiently, which means that you have lesser chance of survival. Be innovative, come up with an idea that hasnt been done before, and focus not just on the UAE. Make your business model adaptable to other markets beyond the country.
The Intelligent SME 47

TIS: What advice would you like to

Owner of e-Home AUTOMATION Operations: Smart home technologies for commercial and residential property, controlling all aspects of the property, including lighting, climate, appliances, curtains and blinds, multiroom audio/video, security, digital surveillance, entertainment and energy saving.

Arch. Khalifa Al Jaziri

Rank

TIS: How did you begin operations? KAJ: e-Home AUTOMATION

initiative began in 1999 as a new concept in the GCC, although we launched the company in 2003. My family saw my progress, and my brother decided to finance my passion. We started by automating houses of relatives and friends. These small-time operations made us realise the potential of the business. Most of the products at the time were customised for the US and UK markets. We needed to have an alteration made for the products in the region, and therefore we approached a few companies in the UK. We bought 33 per cent shares in Domia Ltd, and I became a board member there. We soon founded our own company in the UK, and registered our intellectual property. We have a research centre stationed there as well. This R&D unit has enabled

TIS: What are the challenges you KAJ: We have had our fair share

us to develop software that is now recognised worldwide. And, as for our hardware, we opened an R&D branch in China. This groundwork has given us a presence in Hong Kong, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Egypt, and soon Qatar and Malaysia in the near future. We have been in the industry for eight years now. We brought in a holistic approach while other players concentrated on some aspect or the other. We have helped define smart homes in the region.

have faced in the course of running your business? of difficulties. Firstly, weve have had financial troubles, some of our mega projects have been hit by the recession. Many real estate projects were cancelled and we were hit crucially. Secondly, at the time we

What are the challenges you have faced and what solutions
With regard to consultancy, the challenge we face is that organisations prefer to work with western brand names rather than trusting local providers. However, there are some companies which trusted us on the basis of our experience.

Although our operational costs had increased and made it hard to compete with other international exporters, we changed our policies to combat prices by stocking goods from newly arrived crop for later shipments when prices are high.
Arif Akhtar (CEO, Emirates Pearl General Trading L.L.C)

Mounir A. Ajam (CEO and Lead consultant, Sukad FZ L.L.C)

48

The Intelligent SME

Special focus

began, there was no product in the region that we could benchmark against ours. It was all a trial and error game, and we made slow progress then. We learned from our mistakes. We also had the big task of differentiating ourselves from the companies that sold CCTVs and other products. We spent time making people aware and educating the market of the value of our products. We had to convince people that e-Home AUTOMATION is not a mark of opulence, but more a necessity to save energy.

TIS: Your company has been

KAJ: It is a great honor and we

credited with a ranking among the top SMEs in Dubai. What does this recognition mean for you? are immensely proud to be ranked seventh in the Dubai SME 100. It shows us that we are doing something right and we hope it will open up more opportunities for us, both in the UAE and internationally. We are looking forward to next years ranking and, of course, would like to rank higher next time. In particular, we hope to show more growth this year in terms of revenue.

TIS: What is your management KAJ: I believe in giving people


philosophy?

life and, remember, everyone started where you are now, including people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Even if your first business doesnt succeed, you will learn immensely and the overall experience will only be positive.

TIS: Has that perception changed? KAJ: Yes, there is quite a difference

in perception now, especially in the younger generation. They would like to put the right infrastructure in place before even thinking about designing their houses. This is good. We are now an established brand. I have come across some people who use the term e-Home like an everyday product! This means, we have leaped ahead of competition. We are the trendsetters and we establish the benchmarks.

TIS: What advice would you give to


budding entrepreneurs?

KAJ: It is easy to do nothing - maybe

you are scared, worried or your friends and family dont understand business and are trying to dissuade you from starting your own company. The key is to just do it! Running your own company is, probably, the most exciting and rewarding thing you can do with your

freedom to do their jobs. I empower my team to carry out their roles and trust them to do a good job. There is an understanding that with this freedom comes responsibility. My team is passionate about what they do and take great pride in their work, so I believe that this approach gets the best out of people. I am fully involved in the development process. I give my ideas, and ensure the team gets a complete picture of what the regional needs are, so that they are able to give their fullest effort. We also do all the testing in Dubai after being certified by international certification bodies.

did you come up with to better the situation?


Professional reputation brings business, especially in difficult times where clients engage the best for less. Our investment in an experienced marketing department helped us close more design works in a shrinking and highly competitive market.

I realised the potential that a city like Dubai has to offer. It provides the best platform to create a unique brand. It is also a great location to export my upcoming products to the US, Europe and China.

George Berbari (CEO, DC PRO Engineering)

Dr. Shurong Jiang (Owner, Emirates Integrated Medical Center)

The Intelligent SME

49

Special focus

What are the challenges you have faced and what solutions
Being first in the market with our solution was a big challenge - setting up right platforms, educating people, and dealing with specific requirements of clients; but we have initiated R&D and engineering departments to develop customised solutions. Ahmed Mohammed Al Raf i

(CEO, Dubai Technologies )

Rank

Abouzar Rahmani

CEO and president, Mani Foods Industry L.L.C. Operations: A consumer-centric manufacturing and processing company in the dried fruits and nuts segment. schools; travel channels namely the hotels and restaurants; and retail sectors.

companies, and banks. It breeds respect for the company. Dubai?

AR: We are in the snack food industry, in the healthy snacking category, under dried fruits and nuts. The target groups, on the consumer side, are the discerning consumers. They are health conscious, they understand quality and they prefer branded products. We target these consumers in three main segments: institutions namely in-flight catering and

TIS: Who is your target audience?

AR: The innovative path we have taken is going beyond the retail sector. Besides retail, we cover tourism, which is a large part of the economy, and institutions. By being in Dubai were able to cater to all these channels, and measure our success in all these channels. The key aim is to differentiate Mani from all other brands in the market. We do this by portraying Mani as a local brand that aims to become a global one. This is something I always tell people. TIS: What does the recognition AR: This recognition means a lot to us, because we are differentiated from thousands of companies in Dubai. It adds value to our brand and company. When you are recognised, you will get more attention from all the sectors- government, private
through Dubai SME 100 mean for your company?

TIS: How have you introduced


innovation into your business?

AR: I came to Dubai for an internship from Brussels. While I spent time here, I also realised that this country has immense potential for an entrepreneur to set up and operate a business. My main aim at the time was to take the family business global. My family business is focused on the manufacturing, and processing of dried fruits and nuts. We have numerous years of expertise on the subject. Combining this knowledge with many consultants on market development and marketing, as well as my knowledge in marketing and business management, and the logistics potential of Dubai, I set up this company. TIS: How would you differentiate
Mani Foods from the family business?

TIS: How did you come to set up in

AR: The family heritage business that we have involves producing, farming, cultivating and exporting dried fruits and nuts. Mani is very different from my family business, in the sense that we are not process oriented; we are consumer-centric. Its a backward integration from the consumer side down to the process side. First we understand the needs of the consumer, and then produce

50

The Intelligent SME

Special focus

The systematic approach adopted by Spantech allowed us to stay focused whilst achieving optimum results. The methodologies adopted by us allows us to predict potential pitfalls and overcome them.
Rajeev Pemmaiah (CEO, Spantech Solution L.L.C)

did you come up with to better the situation?

accordingly. We take into account the nutritional facts and the portions. This is the key fact that differentiates us from our key competitors as well. We have world-class consultants assisting us at every stage, helping us to take the right decisions.

AR: Yes, but we dont like to call it healthy. We prefer fun and well being. Our motto is eat, enjoy and stay healthy. Healthy food is sometimes perceived in the negative sense, and many might not enjoy it. But our products focus on guilt-free snacking. TIS: What kind of challenges have

TIS: So your products are focused on


health of the consumer.

AR: We want to be the brand that is loved by millions of customers across the globe. Today we are available in the GCC, Egypt and Jordan. We are also available in Belgium and have initiated operations in the UK. So, our future lies in developing our European market and later the American and Japanese markets. Japanese markets especially because they are known for their appreciation of quality, and that is what we provide. We are focused and will remain in the dried fruits and nuts segment. We are introducing new products that are consumer-friendly. AR: I like to arrive at a simple solution, beginning with the complex. I call it simplexity. So for Mani, while trying to arrive at a specific product we try a wider range of products, which we first introduce into a pilot market, and from there we narrow it down based on the success of the product. Its difficult because its a wide range, and the initial cost is high, but if you want to go global, this is the approach. We have double digit growth to prove the success of this approach. TIS: What kind of changes would
you like to see implemented in the

TIS: What are your future plans?

AR: It was not a good time, it was the peak of the financial crisis, banks were not lending, and every aspect of setting up the business was difficult. Financial systems all over the world were stressed, and recruiting for a new company was difficult, as people who were settled in their jobs were wary of moving to a new organisation. We had some delays on the supply side, but we slowly got everything together with hard work. We had to be on top of every job and there was a lot of crisis management while setting up the business. We started with 16 people, and now we have 70 staff.

you had during the economic crisis?

TIS: How did you arrive at the


current basket of products?

AR: There are many gaps in the manufacturing side, mainly because Dubai is attuned to being a trading platform. Industrial platform therefore, is not well defined, and thats why the banking sector is also not defined to meet these needs. This is different in other countries like Germany, which is more industrial and therefore they even finance a business idea! However, over here, banks ask for a track record of three years and so on. This doesnt work for an FMCG brand and a manufacturing company, because they will have no need of finance after three years of operation. More support therefore, is required for manufacturers, for them to set up and grow. AR: Entrepreneurs must strongly believe. This is a characteristic of an entrepreneur, along with being a risk taker. Never hesitate in any decision. Another point that I would like to add is, do not take advice from too many people. Select only limited numbers, whose success is evident. Always have the right partners, such as your supplier, distributor, banker, and so on. Keep in mind that as an SME, you are growing, and you need these suppliers to support your growth.
The Intelligent SME 51

industries your company is associated with?

TIS: Advice to the next generation of


entrepreneurs?

Our solutions are innovative and easy to use, with a user-friendly Internet web interface. We take great pride in our competitive services and installation as well as our unrivalled execution. Our system integrates GPS, wireless technologies and the Internet to increase asset efficiency and safety objectives. It reduces operating costs and improve customer service for companies across UAE and the GCC.

Dubai Internet City, DIC 13, HP Building, Office 220 P.O. Box 500306, Dubai, UAE T +971 4 390 1498 F +971 4 366 4598 E info@samtech-me.ae

samtech-me.com

Rank
Premchand K

information security in an holistic manner. Our consulting team is based out of the UAE and has an in-depth understanding of security processes, ISO 27001 standards, and has an impressive track record of having enabled over 40 companies in the Gulf to obtain the ISO 27001 certification. Our technology practice has both depth and breadth far more significant than most of our competitors. More importantly, our dedicated band of qualified security engineers and consultants is the key differentiator. At the end of the day, the individual makes all the difference, these individuals created Paramount. They are the future of the company.

TIS: What is your companys USP? PK: As a company we understand

CEO, Paramount Computer Systems Operations: Paramount has established a reputation for providing practical security solutions that are both business driven and cost-effective. This has enabled the company to secure the IT Infrastructure of leading government undertakings, banks and financial institutions, airlines and transportation companies, telcos, universities and large corporates in the region.

TIS: Do you look forward to the

technologies are being launched. We are re-entering the Saudi Arabian market with a 100 per cent owned entity; we are incubating a new business in cloud services; we are evaluating an acquisition to accelerate growth, and our current talent pool of 102 people will double in the next three-four years. People will make all the difference. next rankings by Dubai SME? Do you hope to improve on the current ranking?

TIS: What does the recognition

PK: Ranking recognition like this not only tell us how far we have come, but also tells us how far we need to go. It has made all of us at Paramount proud and humbled at the same time. This recognition, coming from an independent body with a comprehensive and holistic evaluation process, has significantly enhanced client perception of our company. Going forward, we believe, it will enhance our ability to attract greater talent into the company and win larger deals in the marketplace. It will also inspire the team to stretch and aim to become Number One. PK: 2012 is a landmark year for Paramount, as we complete 20 years in the UAE, a significant achievement for an SME. We are more than convinced that if we have come this far, then it is because of a clearly defined vision and value system and stakeholder satisfaction and respect. The company is still work in progress and we have a long way to go. TIS: In such a volatile market, what
have you done differently to excel?

offered by Dubai SME mean for you and how will it make a difference in your business?

PK: Improving from the current position, for each of us in Paramount is non-negotiable. We have identified clear initiatives and performance goals that will help us achieve the desired recognition in the next edition of SME 100. We are grateful to Dubai SME 100 for raising the bar and defining a goal worthy of pursuit. PK: You cannot get into business or working life for that matter with the objective of making money. You must have a much larger objective. Identify a cause that will kindle passion in you. Work diligently to deliver on the vision and dont get bogged down by roadblocks on the way. Success will follow, so will money. TIS: What advice would you give to
budding entrepreneurs?

PK: We have had to face a plethora of challenges: cash flow pressures, employee attrition, technology obsolescence, JV partner management, integrating technology into complex client environments, accelerating learning, adopting defined processes to scale the business, enhancing skill sets of middle level managers - the list goes on. It created problems in the short-term, but evidently, our long-term success is eloquent testimony to this strategy and approach. PK: We have several key initiatives underway in 2012 to scale up the business. Several new security TIS: What are your future plans for
the year ahead?

TIS: Have you faced many

challenges as you built this business?

TIS: What changes would you like to


implement in your industry to further the growth of companies such as Paramount?

PK: You can protect your information assets only by a prudent combination of people; process and technology. Today, the industry is very technology centric in its approach. We need more qualified, more diligent and more skilled security engineers and consultants to enhance our security posture. At a country level, the UAE needs more nationals dedicated to this field; we would like to facilitate the creation of a centre of excellence to create the future security talent of the UAE.

The Intelligent SME

53

TIS: What inspired you to set up this WA: This idea came from a very
business? funny incident. Once, I had applied for a Schengen visa and at one of the offices that I went to billed me for AED1200; they did not give me any receipts, and my passport was with them. After I got the visa, I saw in the receipt that the actual amount was AED300! I had paid four times more than the actual amount and felt cheated. This is not a good picture of Dubai, and I thought I had to do something about this. OnTime is the solution to this dilemma that many people face. We set up the first OnTime office in 2003.

10

Rank

TIS: What changes have you


introduced in the business?

expand our services and signed an agreement with Emirates Identity Authority. I opened 16 branches in UAE. Slowly, the growth was reflected in our progress. And we decided that the partnerships with government bodies are the right way to go.

WA: During negotiations with the

O ` wner, OnTime

Waleid Abdulkareim

However, I did not want to restrict myself to just labour and immigration document clearing. I decided to go in another tangent, so we signed with embassies and consulates as an authorized organisation handling commercial and tourist visas. Then we wanted to

Operations: OnTime facilitates government services such as DED (issuing new licenses and renew olds, initial approvals, reserving company names), and so on, by way of partnership. Working with the Immigration, Land Department (Ejari), Emirates ID, Labour Office, Civil Defence, RTA, Dubai Courts, consulates and Saudi Embassy, OnTime is portrayed as a one-stop shop to facilitate companies and individuals who require services from any of these government bodies.

government, I still remember being asked what was different about OnTime. This is an organisation that believes in giving a brand identity to the kind of services we provide, such as, say, Starbucks. So we believe in conducting ourselves in a disciplined manner, we have uniforms, and our brand guidelines and colour schemes are followed in every single branch. We changed the environment of the work by making our branches spacious, providing transportation, and promoting emiratisation. This plays a big role in the mind of the consumer, because we provide a good experience and a friendly, organised atmosphere. We set standards to the profession. Technologically, we have done away with the ambiguity and mistrust that people have when submitting their documents. We have SMS confirmations, online tracking systems of documents, and we are

Do you look forward to next years ranking? What measures

We alwaysinstrive forwe hope to excel. We recently appointed a non-executive continuous improvement. Corporate governance practices are one area which
John Martin St. Valery (Founder & CEO, The Links Group )

chairman, and we are already introducing some operational changes that we believe will help improve our ranking.

54

The Intelligent SME

Special focus

obligated in giving our clients a feeling of professionalism and trust. We are the first company to have a training and development centre and a call centre. We are actually changing the whole concept of document clearing.

WA: We will continuously expand

TIS: What plans do you have for the


future?

WA: Currently were trying to cover

TIS: What are the challenges you WA: I would like to expand my
have faced in the course of your business?

our services, and set up more branches. We will also market our services through offline and digital media, and build our reputation. We will also develop our 4 Ps (Place, Price, Promotion & product ).

TIS: What is your marketing


strategy?

the entire area of Dubai by setting up branches in various key locations; very soon we will be expanding to other emirates, starting with Abu Dhabi. Besides our expansion plans, we are looking forward to getting listed in the secondary market for SMEs. But this will take at least a year. Meanwhile we will have many other plans that will keep this organisation a pioneer in this line of business. We have to be fast in our growth and innovation, to be one step ahead of the competition. In this way we dissuade people from copying our business. We have lined up many more partnerships and exclusive agreements and will be announcing them in the future. A more immediate project is a one stop shop facility in Jumeirah Beach Residence, where we will be providing the entire gamut of services. We also have other services like auditing, uniform manufacture, and real estate agency, which we will be developing further.

TIS: Now that you have been

we split the operations where I handle business development by forming alliances and carrying out negotiations, and the managing director handles the operations. But I still oversee the new projects for a while before it is fully managed by him. And we work as a team. All of us discuss each project at length before finding the best approach. ranked in the top ten, what does this recognition mean for your business?

TIS: What is your management


philosophy?

company in a big manner, but I cannot, because nobody will finance this enterprise in spite of our growth. Ive often contemplated an SME fund created by the SME 100 entrepreneurs. This would encourage banks to open up more to the SME sector. We can make a change for SMEs. Also, it is a challenge to negotiate with our partners. It takes a lot of convincing and we really work hard to prove ourselves and gain trust of our partners.

WA: The creation of the Group has

WA: We live in a challenging and

TIS: What advice would you like to WA: With determination, desire,
give to budding entrepreneurs?

been an extraordinary journey, and this recognition shows us that we are on the right path; and now we look forward to growing together with our people to achieve more in the future. We want to be Number one in the next ranking. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, our ruler, says everybody remembers number one. Its not going to be easy, but we will try our best.

dynamic world and therefore we have to be fast and aggressive with the market and improve our tools to make things happen, and to grab the opportunity on time. And we should pride ourselves on our innovation, integrity and commitment to quality and excellence. We are a family. We work hard. Faisal Abdulkareem, is my managing director, and

patience and a passion for integrity, OnTime has, over the years, transformed and become more than we ever dreamed. All the entrepreneurs should keep the idea simple and the message clear and focus more on the creativity, decency, concern for the business community and an obligation to give the best.

would you take to elevate your current ranking?

We plan to improve onmost desirable digitalthat Dubai SME 100 rankscompany to work each of the criteria SMEs on and look forward to building the information architecture
Mark Hirst CEO, Blue Beetle

with, and look forward to being recognised for our achievement by Dubai SME 100 again.

55

The Intelligent SME

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Special focus

Continued from page 35

businesses. The SMEs have adapted to the situation, and have actually moved on. Ahmad Tahlak, owner of Levenbert, for instance, says that their company had to do away with attractive projects because of the situation emerging out of the global downturn, and they had to take a good look at how to move ahead. A number of our projects had been put on hold owing to a tough market. We had to even strategically revisit our organisational objectives, he reminisces. In fact, nothing came easy for any of the SMEs ranked among the top 100, even when the going was good pre-recession. Most ranked SMEs have attributed their success to sheer hard work, and team efforts. I have learnt that business is a full time life commitment and there is no
Continued from page 34

such thing as time-out. It requires full devotion, incessant dedication and countless sacrifices. But it is all worth it and I wouldnt have it any other way, affirms Jeehan Abdul Gadir, founder of American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery. Challenges SMEs have had to deal with a number of challenges to sustain the pace of their growth over the years. Banking has been a major area of difficulty, as they have at times fallen short of supporting manufacturing companies, according to Abouzar Rahmani, CEO of Mani Foods L.L.C. There are too many guarantees and securities required for banks to lend to the SME sector, some of which pose quite a hassle to company owners. The biggest challenge still is liquidity. The only solution for city, the degree of international orientation is a key evaluation dimension. A large majority of SMEs in Dubai have some form of international footprint serving the region, since there is not a large domestic market. Innovation is also a key since it enables future growth and sustainability. Moving on to future ranking cycles, Dubai SME will increase focus on corporate governance since it is a key issue for growth and development, especially post global financial crisis. Dubai SME aims to create a pipeline of bankable and investable SMEs which in turn helps increase and create new (real) economic value to the Dubai Emirate and the UAE at large. what are the main gaps you registered that broadly affects the SME sector, during the course of this intensive process?

this is prudent cash management and streamlining your cost base while negotiating payment terms with clients and suppliers, adds Mohamed Nassar, owner of WMS Metal Industries L.L.C. In such cases, being sensible about the cash flow is the only way out for most companies. They must be intelligent enough to safeguard their resources to work out long-term growth. You have to be sensible about your cash flow, in order to sustain your growth. If you are not a wild spender, then you should have some cash in your hand to innovate and implement your business ideas, notes Hazel Jackson, CEO, BizGroup. However, trying times always bring opportunities, and many of these companies have grabbed
Continued to page 59

achieve balanced and all-rounded growth. To enable this, Dubai SME has developed an engagement plan, which principally focuses on delivering capability development sessions that exposes SMEs to new growth ideas to take them to the next level. We will track their growth performance progress from a top-line and bottom-line perspective, and give feedback where needed. Growth and development is an iterative process and with time, the SMEs will learn how to invest and manage growth based on their context and different starting points.

TIS: What are the main criteria used AW: The ranking is based on
for developing this ranking?

the fundamentals of firm growth covering financials, innovation, human capital development and market development. Dubai SMEs aim was to use the ranking as a means to identify performance that resulted from the emphasis of these fundamentals. Of course, the way each is focused and nuanced is different from country to country. So for example, Dubai being a global

TIS: From your expert point of view,

AW: One of the key gaps is that many


SMEs here do not have externally audited financial statements. Nevertheless, we also see many quality SMEs that have taken the trouble to invest in financial discipline

by ensuring the adoption of proper accounting standards appropriate for their stage of growth. Many are also aware that they have to start early to invest in good financial systems and governance. The other gap is the short planning horizon of the SMEs here, which means that they do not invest long-term for growth, for example in productive assets that will increase their equity and economic value. Yet, those that have been ranked show that these gaps can be bridged if there is a vision and clear execution plan to deepen the development of their companies. At a higher level, knowing these gaps will help us address more directly the development gaps of SMEs in Dubai. A key goal is to make these SMEs more productive, innovative to enable long-term development. Hence, we are using these 100 ranked SMEs as a means to reach out to the 72,000 odd SMEs, and the message is clear: that all SMEs can make a difference to their growth trajectory and create a premium for sustainable growth. The ranked SMEs have done it and have something to show. The Intelligent SME 57

Special focus

Continued from page 57

them, as evidenced by Paul Michael Gledhill, co-founder and executive director of Xpert Learning: To be honest, the downturn was a great time for us. Companies were starting to look at reducing costs, but at the same time trying to improve efficiencies across their business. We learnt to become a strategic alliance partner to our customers as opposed to a content reseller. As a strategic alliance partner we became a true learning consultant that helped drive business impact and behavioural change in organisations. Our commitment to excellence, business integrity and accountability is what keeps us grounded and focused on the most essential things in the real estate business, explains Rajan Israni, managing director of Sun and Sand Developers, the company of its kind to be ranked in the SME 100 list. We dont believe in hype. We have a very deep understanding of the dynamics of the real estate industry, which has allowed us to steer clear of potential pitfalls, particularly during the most challenging period in the industry. Israni completed his projects at a time when the construction sector was undergoing its worst phase. And having no monetary commitments at the time, he was able to offer innovative payment schemes for his property. A steady focus on core competencies, taking stock of inventory and receivables, and a thorough analysis of product mix, market, scope for innovation, and international orientation has made many of these companies successful. As Akhtar Aman, COO of Enerplastics L.L.C says, Small is beautiful! The best part about being a small company is the fact that the board members or owners can take quick decisions with issues affecting the company. The lesson we learnt was, if we offer the right product that the market needs, backed with intelligent investing on marketing, then we will succeed even if general economic

environment is on a downturn, sums up Sunil Ramchandani, CEO, Vitavision Medical Supplies. For many others, the solution lies in taking business across the borders in the region, and for some to countries beyond the region. Changing business environment Business perceptions are no longer the same. The new age entrepreneurs are far more perceptive

thanks to Dubai SME, improve their business and grow further after identifying the positives and negatives. Along with measures such corporate governance, international management standards, maintaining focus on core competencies and listening to customer inputs, Dubais SME sector is all set to perform strongly in the years ahead. Some ambitious entrepreneurs like Dr. Shurong of Emirates Integrated

SMEs have been given the recognition of being an integral part of the Dubai economy. With an aggregate profit of AED220 billion, SMEs in Dubai are more than prepared to take their growth to the next level.
to their staff and the market, along with global trends. They are more proactive, and cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit among their staff. With bold visions, these entrepreneurs manage customer expectations, while maneuvering their strategies and plans to follow through their vision. Moreover, a spirit of teamwork prevails, with the top management engaging much more with the staff. The team is the essence of the business, according to Dr. Omar Ghosheh, founder and CEO of Dimensions Healthcare, the company ranked number one in the Dubai SME 100 ranking. However, most entrepreneurs that have been ranked expect a certain degree of attention from financial institutions, and with added visibility, Medical Center, feels that more than the ranking, growth is inevitable. I dont want to expand my organisation, I would rather grow vertically, and expand my reach with regard to clients, she says. Post ranking, Dubai SME has activated a series of capability development, awareness creation and networking initiatives to help these SMEs improve their performance. A large part of the effort is focused on changing mindsets and opening minds to new angles of and ideas for growth and development. Ranked SME owners are being encouraged to work as a full-fledged community, supporting each through the SME CEO club; they will also become mentors to the next generation of entrepreneurs and help shape the 72,000 SMEs in Dubai. The Intelligent SME 59

Special focus

Dubai SME 100 Overall ranking


Rank
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 8

Company Name
Dimensions Healthcare FZ L.L.C Ecobility Energy Solutions Propertyfinder.ae MEPCO Gulf

Rank
26 27 28 29 30

Company Name
Harlequin Marquees & Event Services MD Interior Design WMS Metal Industries L.L.C

Intercoil International Co. L.L.C Enerplastics L.L.C

The Number 1 General Trading Emirates Trans Graphics L.L.C Suntron Electronics Dolphin Diving Services

E-Home Automation

31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

Mani Foods Ind. L.L.C On Time

11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 21 22 23 24 25

10

Paramount Computer Systems German Imaging Technologies Dubai L.L.C Vitavision Medical Supplies Bizxchange Ozon Techno Commercial Fzco Gulf Seafood L.L.C

International Business Consult Micro Automation Industries Elcome International L.L.C

Al Jowder International General Trading Help Ag Middle East FZ L.L.C DGT L.L.C Kimoha Entrepreneurs Limited 3W Networks FZCO Heritage For Henna Tonnit Design & Advertising L.L.C Al Shami Sugar & Grains Packing Orbis Foods Otal L.L.C

Biz-Group FZ L.L.C

18 20

Biolite Aesthetic Clinic Samtech Middle East Eastern Biotech & Life Sciences FZ L.L.C Merlin Digital General Trdg L.L.C Zams International FZCO O2 Network Futurelink

The Hundred Pilates Studio Fz-L.L.C Halleys Comet Tourism L.L.C Just Falafel

Middle East Prestressing L.L.C Ethos Consultancy

Horizon Satellite Services FZ L.L.C Emirates Integrated Medical Centre FZ L.L.C

60

The Intelligent SME

Special focus

Rank
51 52 53 54 55 56 57 59 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 69 71 72 73 74 75 70 68 60 58

Company Name
Hiphone Telecom Radiant Engineering FZC

Rank
76 77 79 78 Levenbert

Company Name
Dubai Technologies

Al Zubaidi Modern Decorative Systems L.L.C American Academy Of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital Creek Castle Contracting Links Group Limited Crowe Horwath

Appetite Catering Services L.L.C

Triple Crown Shipping And Logistics L.L.C SNTTA Travel &Tours L.L.C.

Connect4 Digital Printing Blue Beetle FZ L.L.C

Relays Engineering Consultants

Royal City Contracting L.L.C Hima Middle East FZE Aaa Roadside Assistance

87 89 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 99 98 90 88

86

85

84

83

82

81

80

Palace Engineering Consultants 5 Capitals Environmental And Management Consultancies First Light FZ L.L.C

The Jam Jar L.L.C

Ritmo Furniture

Emirates Pearl General Trading L.L.C.

Al Badr & Al Muaini General Trading L.L.C

Diva Modelling & Events

Sukad FZ L.L.C

Incon Infrastructure Contracting L.L.C Lemongrass Thai Restaurant L.L.C Innovative Hr Solutions FZ L.L.C Wilson Learning FZ L.L.C Al Wegdaniyah Transport Solutions Dimara International Printpac ME Happy Yummy Think Software Services DC Pro Engineering

SAT Insulation Materials L.L.C Golden Motor Telephone Spantec Solutions L.L.C Caistor Associates Xpertlearning

Al Fahim Carpet & Curtains Dynamic Learning - Six Seconds FZ L.L.C Art India Textiles

Gulf Pumps L.L.C

W S I Net Power Eisa Travels

Trinity Infotech L.L.C

100

Pro-Design Advertising L.L.C

The Intelligent SME

61

Special focus

Top 10 Financial Growth


Rank
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 8 Ecobility Energy Solutions Zams International FZCO Propertyfinder.ae

Company Name

Dimensions Healthcare FZ L.L.C The Number 1 General Trading German Imaging Technologies Dubai L.L.C OnTime Mani Foods Ind. L.L.C MEPCO Gulf

Trading Trading Trading

Sector

Services

Energy Solutions

Line of Business

Information Tehnology (Hardware & Software) Food And Beverage General Trading

Services

Manufacturing Manufacturing Services Services Trading

Professional Services Food And Beverage

Information Technology (Hardware And Software) Public Relation Services

10

Help AG Middle East FZ L.L.C

Information Technology Hardware And Software)

Paper Products & Printing

Top 10 Innovation
Rank
1 2 4

Micro Automation Industries Kimoha Entrepreneurs Ltd Bizxchange E-Home Automation

Company Name

Manufacturing Services Manufacturing Manufacturing Trading Services Trading Trading

Sector

Electronics

Line of Business

3 5 6 7 9 8

IT (Hardware and Software) Furniture and Sleep Products Paper Products & Printing

Intercoil International Co. L.L.C

Dimensions Healthcare FZ L.L.C WMS Metal industries L.L.C Ecobility Energy Solutions Merlin Digital General Trading L.L.C Enerplastics L.L.C

Professional Services Fabricated Metal & Equipment Energy Solutions Plastic Products

Manufacturing Manufacturing

IT (Hardware and Software)

10

IT (Hardware and Software)

62

The Intelligent SME

Special focus

Top 10 Human Capital Development


Rank
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 9 Ethos Consultancy

Company Name

Services Services Trading

Sector

Innovative HR Solutions FZ L.L.C Bizxchange German Imaging Technologies Dubai L.L.C Biz-Group FZ L.L.C Enerplastics L.L.C

Professional ServicesManagement Consulting Professional Services

Line of Business

Professional ServicesManagement Consulting IT (Hardware and Software) Professional ServicesManagement Consulting Plastic Products Furniture and Sleep Products Event Management Professional ServicesManagement Consulting Food and Beverage

Manufacturing Services Manufacturing Manufacturing Services Services Services

Harlequin Marquees & Event Services DC Pro Engineering Just Falafel

Intercoil International CO.L.L.C

Top 10 International Orientation


Rank
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 8 Ozon Techno Commercial FZCO Enerplastics L.L.C Emirates Pearl General Trading L.L.C .

Company Name

Trading Trading Trading

Sector

Manufacturing

Electronics

Line of Business

Plastic Products

General Trading Food and Beverage Food and Beverage Commercial Marine Services Furniture and Sleep Products

ZAMS International FZCO Gulf Seafood L.L.C

Elcome International L.L.C Intercoil International CO L.L.C

Services

Manufacturing Manufacturing Services Services Manufacturing

3W Networks FZCO

Hima Middle East FZE

IT (Hardware and Software) Professional ServicesManagement Consulting Paper Products & Printing The Intelligent SME 63

Kimoha Entrepreneurs Ltd

SME development

Reaching out to the SME sector


he first orientation session of the Dubai SME 100 companies was organised recently by Dubai SME, an agency of the Dubai Department of Economic Development. Congratulating the owners and decision makers of the ranked companies, the session proceeded to give them an understanding of the development goals of the SME 100 ranking. The first and the most important goal, involves ultimately reaching out to the other 72,000 SMEs through these ranked companies. The ranking will spur SME performance and growth excellence, while developing supply-side investable SMEs for encouraging demand-side investor market interest, said Alexandar Williams, director, strategy and policy, Dubai SME. He added that the SME 100 ranking will further inspire companies to become sustainable and have a high degree of international orientation, which will in turn make Dubai the destination to attract high net worth innovative and investable start-ups and SMEs at various stages of growth. Expectations By 2013, Dubai SME hopes to see an improvement in the ranks of the SMEs that have currently been positioned as top companies, with key indicators showing better performance and sustained 64 The Intelligent SME

Dubai SME has started preparing the Dubai SME 100 companies for better growth prospects in the future. The ambition is to achieve higher profits, human capital development and a global footprint for these companies. A TIS report.

of these companies in the SME 100 companies listing in an SME secondary market platform, while also being positioned in other international rankings such as Arabia 500 and the GCC 100. Capability development tracks Dubai SME has envisaged five tracks of development for SME companies. The first being corporate governance, which covers financial governance, financial discipline board and advisory networks, tools and diagnostics, success stories and development tracking. The second is investment capability development, which will give SME owners an advantage in building an investment story in order to source risk capital, increase investment readiness, company valuation and establish links with international investors. Building an international footprint is the third track, while human capability development focusing on CEO and executive team leadership, talent attraction and development has been set as the fourth track. The fifth track involves innovation and research capability development by building future value, commercialisation of ideas, revenue strategies, and IP protection techniques. In order to strengthen these capabilities, there will be many engagement platforms set up, including the new SME 100 magazine, the newly formed SME

Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO, Dubai SME speaks at the SME orientation session held recently.

year-on-year growth, higher turnover, profits and export sales, and more staff employment. This will result in the graduation of SMEs to large industries that employ over 250 employees and earn above AED250 million in annual turnovers. Another key enabling factor towards this goal is the facilitation

SME development

In order to strengthen these capabilities, there will be many engagement platforms set up, including the new SME 100 magazine, the newly formed SME 100 CEO Club, case studies and statistical financial reports, the SME 100 year book and so on.
Alexandar Williams, director, strategy and policy, Dubai SME, speaks at the SME orientation session.

100 CEO Club, case studies and statistical financial reports, the SME 100 year book and so on. SME 100 specif ic initiatives A notable development in the plan for SME 100 is the setting up of SME 100 Growth Advisor Programme, an initiative which will involve identifying business and industry-based experienced executives to be advisors, creating a knowledge pool for the ranked companies. This will result in a resource base for SMEs to tap if

and when they establish formal or informal boards with them being peer and industry advisors to each other. Another initiative is Dubai SMEs partnership with the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank to co-organise a Corporate Governance Programme targeted at CEOs and CFOs, consisting of three workshops on SME governance overview, board functioning, management control and meeting the investors to understand the factors that go into building an invest-worthy SME company.

These practical workshops aim to help SMEs in various stages of development to execute effective initiatives of corporate governance. Network of partners Dubai SME 100 will build a partners network to assist in the development programme of the 100 SMEs and reach out to the rest of the SMEs in the 72,000 pool. These partners will play a big role with different offerings, covering needs-based consultations, financial solutions, and business networking.

SME owners gathered at the SME orientation session held by Dubai SME recently.

66

The Intelligent SME

Equity building

How to build your equity story

Dr. Edward Roderick dispels certain myths about the needs and expectations of equity investors looking to invest in SMEs.
mall businesses have been facing the brunt of the current financial turmoil that has reduced their funding abilities. Banks have to repair their balance sheets from the impairments due to assets bubbles bursting around the world. They are also facing the requirement to hold higher tier 1 ratios of funding and, effectively, keep more cash in hand, just in case things go bad again. As unemployment increased, individuals burned cash and the banking industrys saving to debt ratios went out of line, again causing a constraint on lending. If you are trying to borrow, the probability is, you wont get what you need, if any at all, and the terms are likely to be expensive if you do. Probabilities of funding Lets move to equity. Firstly, what are the probabilities of getting fundedin a good market? According to statistics by Mason and Harrison, 60 per cent of business plans are rejected after just 30 minutes, a further 25 per cent are rejected after three hours, 10 per cent more are rejected after a full day, three per cent fail in negotiations and only two per cent succeed in getting funding. These statistics are based on developed economies. You may ask what the relevance of this is. Well, in the developed world most countries charge income tax, and, it is in the nature of humanity that we try to avoid this! When governments give tax breaks to help certain parts of the economy, then this helps and encourages good citizens to take a little more risk. In recognising that the SME sector is the most likely source of new jobs as businesses emerge from recession, governments try to accelerate this process by giving higher levels of tax breaks. They are effectively taking government money in countries, such as the UK, and giving it to investors to help the SME sector to grow. You can see that for companies in this region, opportunity doesnt exist, particularly, if you are an expat company trying to get going. Perhaps somebody from government will read this and look at changing things? Unrealistic entrepreneurs Lets go back to the statistics; 100 per cent of the people believed they had a great business that was fundable, but unfortunately 98 per cent were wrong. Why is this case, you may ask? The answer is simple; completely unrealistic entrepreneurs. We see this all the time. We give most companies a one-hour hearing and within 10 minutes we know who is going to fail, its our job and our life. In spite of this, we are often told how wrong we are, and so, often I hope the entrepreneurs are right, but usually they are not and we are right. We have dashed the hopes and enthusiasm of so many people, but we dont want them to continue to waste their, and, often, their families and friends money in a futile hope of success. Fifty per cent of the companies we help get funded; so, we are not infallible, but our ratios play well against the stats. Misconception In some ways I blame the

So what do investors love and hate in entrepreneurs and, therefore, what you need to address to get funding?
68 The Intelligent SME

Equity building

educational establishments for raising the expectations of the students. I have an expression, which those who know me often hear: they have been taught to paint by numbers and believe they are Picasso. Entrepreneurship cannot be taught. You either have or dont have a great idea, and you either can or cant execute. I do accept that you can be helped to mange yourself and your business better if you are an entrepreneur, but you cant make one. Nobody is going to change the pyramid structure of business no matter what they do. Dos and donts So what do investors love and hate in entrepreneurs and, therefore, what you need to address to get funding? Firstly dont come for cash for a start-up. If the idea is good, your family and friends need to fund you in the initial stages. If you cant convince them to risk their cash, then why should an investor? This also applies to having a good team, even if it is as low as two members. If you are a one-man-company and you die, so does the business. This comes to the first major point for external investors - you have to be able to sell. They have to believe in you first and then the company. Being shy or modest does

not tell them how great you and the company are. However, dont make it complex in an effort to show how clever you are. Clever people make complex things simple-not the other way around. You will also have to sell your idea to clients and suppliers so good sales executives have a great shot at success. Next, you have to demonstrate a detailed and in-depth knowledge of the markets you are about to enter. This needs to include competitors, segments, dynamics and pricing. I always believe that a good political, environmental, social and technical analysis (PEST) is a starting point. You then have to prove that you or the ideas have had a track record of success. This means that either you need experience or that you have done good trials of the business idea or product. Now we get into the nitty gritty. Having done all this analysis, the financial projections have to have realism bordering on the pessimistic. Dont forget the military saying that a strategy works to the point you engage the enemy and then it has to change. You need plenty in reserve for issues. One of my great bosses now chairman of RSA, the insurance company - always said, In the first six months at the start-up period for a business or project, if you halve the revenue and double the costs you will

probably be close. This has so often been right. That realism also has to extend to the return on investment. Just getting by isnt enough for investors. They are looking for explosive profit and growth and high returns on their capital, probably 10 times the money. Perhaps, worst of all, dont be tricky with your investors and shareholders. So many people tell half truths as things go wrong; this is totally the wrong approach. Investors are experienced and realistic, they know life isnt perfect. If you share difficulties as they happen, they will give all their experience to help you out of the hole. If, however, you lie even once, that trust is gone forever, and the business is on the road to closure, and a nasty end. Finally, remember that once you have accepted an outside investor, the business is for sale. The only issue is the timing and price. You must not think of the business as a lifestyle for you, but as an investment for you and them and an investment that must be realised.

Edward Roderick , co-chairman and managing partner of Envestors MENA Ltd, has more than 30 years experience across the EU, Eastern Europe, the US, Middle East, China and Singapore. He has received a number of accreditations and maintains fellowship in the HULT International Business School and the Institute of Logistics and Transport.

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Management consultancy

Concepts for a lifetime of business

Zed Ayesh highlights some of best ways of managing resources efficiently in a slow-moving business scenario.

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ifficult business environments call for cutting costs and managing resources. SMEs are slightly different in their way of thinking, as these are influenced by personal feelings and perceptions of the managements, as most SMEs in the region are managed directly by owners. These perceptions are transformed into actions and ways of operating the business. It is my opinion that individuals and businesses, whether small or large, should manage their resources in the most efficient manner to ensure profitability maximisation. It is a

fact that many business philosophies were built around this concept, from cost efficiencies to cost competitive advantages. One of the best examples is Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world. Sam Walton, in his biography, describes how he received a very important lesson when he was a young salesman working for JC Penny, one of the largest and most famous department stores in the US in the late sixties. During one of his store visits, Penny noticed a young salesman using a large piece of paper to wrap a shirt for a customer. He approached the salesman and showed

him how to use a smaller piece of paper to wrap the same size shirt, telling him, We make our money in what we save, not what we sell. The young salesman took that statement to heart and went on to build the largest retailer in the world. Based on that one lesson, he built the entire business module on better managing the company resources and lowering his cost of operation: Wal-Mart changed the face of the retail industry with that philosophy. Cheaper is not always better Managing resources and cutting costs are not exactly the same thing.

The Intelligent SME

Management consultancy

As managers, we must look at what we get in return for our money, the most important resource that will buy other resources for business. Firstly, I must mention that each SME must identify the break-even point, without which it is silly to talk about managing resources. The best way to reach the break-even point is for revenues to be equal or greater than expenses, so its all about increasing revenues, or increasing sales, and, this will take me to my first point of better management of SME resources to create more successful business. Find ways to increase sales Each person within an organisation should be turned into a salesman along with their other activities. The focus of any SME should be how to create more opportunities to increase revenue; this can include creating incentive programmes for all persons bringing sales to the company, asking for referrals, and hiring better sales staff with exciting commission structure. Managing people well For an SME, managing resources is critical, in order to avoid losing potential revenue owing to bad time management. Monitoring salesmen through efficient tools would be appropriate. The simplest method is to keep a tab on a salesmans daily activities. Time wasted by salesmen in anything other than creating opportunities to increase sales is a waste of a resource. Lower your break-even point Many ideas and ways to reduce current break-even point, such as changing business location to lower rents, lowering communication bills by using modern technologies, hiring more qualified individuals that can do multiple jobs within the SME are critical. Eliminate unnecessary expenses, such as pantry expenses, office boy expenses and so on, create a culture of do-it-yourself wherever and whenever you can. Using more creative tactics for marketing such as networking events, community development

programmes and business related organisations, participating in more trade events, using local venues to place advertisements, utilising social media by creating a blog, Facebook page, Twitter account and others. Get a down payment Make it your company policy to get as much as you can in down payment, do not start any project with negative cash flow on it; this will put stress on all other business resources and will increase the level of challenges for an SME. If a client does not accept your company policy of down payment, then you must examine your offerings of products and services, and then you must examine the client and his intentions of not making a payment period. Outsource As much as you can, outsourcing is an excellent way to minimise fixed expenses. Outsourcing your business activities to others without affecting the business results, such as accounting activities, human resources activities, marketing activities and office cleaning activities are recommended. For other business items, such as transport, it is better to lease. Stay away from monthly payments Try to avoid fixed payment such as loans, and purchases with long term payment commitments, wherever you can use second hand equipment, such as office printers, copiers, and office phones, for the fax it is better to send all faxes to a computer. Ask for credit Whenever you can ask for credit and facilities from your suppliers, even if it is short-term credit, it can influence cash flow in positive way. It must be managed well to avoid any future cash flow problems, as it is very easy to spend such credit on unrelated projects. Monitor and review Monitor and review profit and loss (P&L) statement at least once a

month. It should include details of all the monthly expenses; it can then be used as a tool to manage those expenses and to understand the gap between revenues and expenses. Dont be shy Never hesitate to ask for help. Many organisations and agencies provide free help to SMEs in Dubai and the UAE. Taking advantage of these experts consultations, as it can make the difference between winning or losing the entire business. To hold or to fold All SME owners or managers should have a timeline for when they should stop or end the business if it cannot reach the break-even point. Knowing when to stop is important for such entrepreneurs so as not to dig a deeper hole for themselves by covering a negative cash flow through debt stacking and over stretching resources and, over time, hurting the business. One of my favourite sayings is Your first loss is your best loss.

Zed Ayesh has over 20 years experience in management and business development. He is currently the managing director of Flagship Consultancy based in Dubai, and works with clients on many aspects of the business from strategic planning, business development, marketing strategies, pre-sales and sales management, across different sectors such as government agencies, real estate, media companies, manufacturing, contracting, engineering firms, retail and shipping companies.

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What is the art of focus?


Businesses must focus on what matters. John Lincoln highlights why discussing and making decisions based on averages could ruin a business.
his is an excellent guide for small business owners, SME investors and owners to consider the Pareto principle in all their daily business undertakings. Focusing on the details is important, but it is wise to focus on the details that matter. I am sure that most of you have heard and know about the Pareto principle or sometimes referred to as the Pareto efficiency. However, I have observed that day in and day out, not many people actually give it thought; much less actually apply this universal cardinal principle in everyday life and business. So who is this Pareto? What is the Pareto principle and why is it so important? Let me first define what the Pareto principle is, and who Pareto was. The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of 72 The Intelligent SME

factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80 per cent of the effects come from 20 per cent of the causes. Business management thinker Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who observed in 1906 that 80 per cent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 per cent of the population; he developed the principle by observing that 20 per cent of the pea pods in his garden contained 80 per cent of the peas. The fallacy of averages If you are like me, most of you have heard in everyday business, stuff like the average sales per day is so much, the average revenue per customer is this, the average score is that or the average age is this and so on. Others often talk about the average returns of the stock market or the average height of the terrain is x and y. Just take a moment and think

about this. These averages mean nothing. They are fallacies in real life and I cannot fathom why it is so common in business. Imagine a plane flying from a to b, and the average terrain is 3000 feet, calculated from a low of 0 feet above sea level and a mountain peak of 6000 feet. You can just imagine if the pilot decides to plot his flight plan based on an average of 3000 feet. Or, imagine a person with no swimming skills trying to cross a lake just because someone said that the average depth is three feet. Therefore, discussing averages have no meaning if the average revenue derived from a few customers is exponentially bigger than the rest. In my industry (telecommunications), I often hear folks speaking about the average revenue per customer, the average minutes of use, the average orders per channel or the average customer care service levels. These averages are useless and

Management consultancy

baseless. They tell me nothing. The average revenue might be a result of having a few large customers versus the rest of the base. Not focusing your attention on these few large customers can sometimes mean the end of some businesses. In most companies that I have worked for, 80 per cent of the incremental sales (new sales) are generated by about 20 per cent of the sales folks. Still, most training investments are spread across the entire sales force. Just imagine the returns if a company can hone to the next fifth or tenth percentile. Imagine the savings and the focus and the tremendous results that can be achieved. Imagine building capacity for a network, factory, hotel, restaurant and others based on averages. I have often been to restaurants that have excellent food, but very poor service during peak times. I am pretty sure that owners of these businesses have been misdirected to resources based on averages. Try saying to an employee that the average bonus payout is $X when he or she probably received one fifth of that $X. The average is as close to the bottom as it is to the top. As the famous comedian and social critic George Carlin said, Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realise half of them are even stupider! Alfred Sloan also once famously said: If you do it right 51 per cent of the time you will end up a hero. As you would have noted by now, focusing on the averages really mean nothing. Be focused using the 64-4 law If a result, problem, outcome or anything has 80 per cent of effects coming from 20 per cent of causes, it will follow that the 80 per cent of that top 80 per cent of effects are coming from 20 per cent of that top 20 per cent of causes, and so on (80 per cent of 80 per cent is 64 per cent; 20 per cent of 20 per cent is four per cent. So there is a 64/4 law). Often, just by knowing that four

per cent of customers, revenues, problems or issues, could be much more worth your while than all the others. What you would have noticed is that it does not always have to add up to 100 (80/20). It can be 64/4 or 70/40, like 70 per cent of a companys revenue comes from 40 per cent of its customers. The key is to focus on what matters. Trying to solve all major issues at one time without focusing on a few critical ones often is costly, non attainable and almost always futile and a failure. The Pareto as a way of life The application of the Pareto principles doesnt just have to be restricted to business, but rather can be applied to everyday living. Imagine if you are trying to save money or if something or someone annoys you or you feel good at times. Just focusing on the few issues or attributes or behaviours can help you address, alleviate or enhance the experience or relationship or whatever it is that youre trying to do. Power law The Pareto Principle is a power law relationship. A power law is a special kind of mathematical relationship between two quantities. When the frequency of an event varies as a power of some attribute of that event (e.g. its size), the frequency is said to follow a power law. The distribution of a wide variety of natural and man-made phenomena follow a power law, including frequencies of words in most languages, frequencies of family names, sizes of craters on the moon and of solar flares, the sizes of power outages, earthquakes, and wars, the popularity of books and music, and many other quantities. Life is too short! In conclusion, I salute and thank Pareto for this universal principle that can be applied in our everyday life. This might seem as something that is too obvious or easy, but remember that most folks ignore this principle day in and day out.

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule, the law of the vital few, and the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80 per cent of the effects come from 20 per cent of the causes.
If you do not believe me just observe this at your work place tomorrow. The good folks from finance, sales, HR, technology, operations and marketing will all be preaching to you about the average of this and that. Take note and decide if it makes sense. Force the discussions around stuff that matters. Stay focused, as life is too short.

John Lincoln has over 20 years of experience in telecommunications, worldwide and is currently the vice president of marketing (enterprise) at Du. He has extensive senior expertise in international telecommunications sales, marketing, business development and customer service delivery.

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Enterprise performance

Enterprise performancea balancing act

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Strategic planning and enterprise performance will drive sustainability of SMEs in the long run, explains V Ramkumar.
and particularly with SMEs, tends to get limited to the financial performance of an organisation- be it the turnover, or revenue or the organisational profit and profitability. While all of these criteria are important, and do define the health of an organisation, they are more of a lag-indicator of how an organisation performed during a reporting period, and do not reflect sustainability of performance on an ongoing basis. There is much to do with strategy than a mere budgeting session at the beginning of the year. And in order to drive and manage a sustained enterprise performance, one needs to measure it effectively. What cannot be measured cannot be managed, let alone be driven! In order to drive enterprise performance of an SME, we may therefore need to define what it entails. And, as we know, this has to include both short-term financial objectives, and the long-term organisational behaviour leading to its growth. The Balanced Scorecard provides a four-perspective framework across financial, customer, process and organisational learning to formulate strategy, and translate it into operational terms. The beauty of the framework is its ability to define objectives, and link it to

t is a well known fact that 90 per cent of global firms are SMEs, and that they employ more than 80 per cent of working population while contributing to more than half of the worlds GDP. Still, it is generally assumed that principles of strategic planning and enterprise performance are the lookout of large and multinational enterprises, not for an SME to be spending time on! This is far from the truth - for the very definition of enterprise is not just to refer an organisation, but also reflects initiative and resourcefulness that is best epitomised by the SME segment. The very concept of enterprise performance in most circumstances,

The Intelligent SME

Enterprise performance

clear measures, targets and initiatives. In simple terms, it ensures that the language of measurement provides clarity to vague concepts- at an enterprise level. Typically the questions that one would need to answer are structured across four broad buckets:

Financial: What kind of financial performance should an SME firm focus on so that it is seen as attractive to stakeholders and external marketplace (such as turnover, revenue, profit, margins, etc.) Customer: Which customer segments and their related expectations need to be focused from a product or service and relationship standpoint? Process: How should the processes be managed to deliver customer expectations across planning, innovation, operational excellence, and how do we improve it? Organisation and IT: To achieve its vision, how should the organisation learn and improve? What technology and MIS framework is required for the above? The Balanced Scorecard framework helps in defining not just the financial expectations of an organisation but also have it supported through a balanced framework that encourages measurement of non-financial aspects of delivering enterprise performance. However, it is also important to recognise that the essence of successfully driving performance entails a few important dos and donts that the CEO of an SME should watch out for. The CEO has to build consensus of the strategic direction with all senior management team on all objectives- both financial and non-financial. It is hard to drive performance unless there is clarity. If there is disconnect at the highest level on what is important for the organisation, it is hard to expect the rest of the enterprise to have consensus. Ensure that clarity of any strategy is not limited to a few at the top of the organisation, but have it cascaded across an organisation. This is true

The essence of successfully driving performance entails a few important dos and donts that the CEO of an SME should watch out for.
for most organisations and even more critical for SMEs, where people are essentially the most valuable resource. We seldom come across successful enterprises whose people are unaware of the organisational priorities! Bring in clear measures that help assess progress. Unless there is a continuous measurement of the enterprise performance across both financial and non-financial objectives, it is very easy to get carried away by short-term financial performance and leave behind areas that need strengthening. Again, as I said before, what is not measured well, cannot be managed well. For instance, even if your sales performance for last quarter was outstanding, if you are not measuring complaints received and ensure they are addressed in time, the performance is not sustainable! This also means the performance measures of everyone in the organisation is aligned to that of the enterprise, and is measured. It is quite typical to see SMEs invest a lot of effort and resources on developing key performance indicators (KPIs) for their employees, but not every time do you see these in alignment to that of the enterprise. For example, if the organisational objective is to develop the business in Abu Dhabi, the KPI of the sales-force has to reflect this as well. If your salesman is spending 90 per cent time visiting customers in Sharjah, then its time you got some fixes to the sales process! Execution is key While all of the above are about defining the objectives and measuring the performance, it is the execution that delivers the value. And this is

perhaps where many organisations tend to mix up means with the ends. Now let me explain. An ISO certification exercise or an ERP implementation are only but the means to deliver a better process or technology framework, and cannot be an end in itself. However successful a six-sigma project may be, it only helps in improving the processes of an organisation- which in turn delivers the financial benefits through cost-reduction and efficiency. A good performance management system is also expected to align the objectives for the year with the initiatives- which ensures that priorities are set to deliver what it takes to achieve the targets, and at the same time effort and energy is not pilfered on areas of non-priority. As organisations grow, it is this performance-based culture that drives sustained and balanced growth. This is particularly true for SMEs, and fortunately, it is much easier to have this institutionalised earlier in the growth phase. All it takes is the focus it deserves, and the will to implement it on a sustained basis. After all, every successful corporation today had been an SME some day too!

V Ramkumar is a senior director at Cedar Management Consulting International L.L.C., a US-based management consulting firm whose heritage includes being part of the firm founded by creators of the Balanced Scorecard. Ram has over 17 years of management consulting and strategic transformation experience, and has designed more than 50 scorecards in the region. He can be reached at v.ramkumar@cedar-consulting. com

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Business strategy

A simple SME productivity booster

Process documentation plays an important role in efficiently managing company operations, writes Vinayak Doddihal.
dont know how so-andso used to do this work How often have you heard this lament? One ends up blaming an exiting employee for being unorganised, for an improper handover and for withholding information. The truth is, it is the organisations responsibility, in their own long term interest, to record the processes every role performs. Every organisation, irrespective of whether small, medium or large, has a set of business processes that allow them to run their day-to-day business operations smoothly. In most cases large or multinational organisations document their processes due to sheer size of operations spanning across various part of the world. Small and medium organisations, however, shy away from documenting their processes. Documenting these processes is as important as having processes as it provides a written transcript of the organisations operations and working. Organisations can choose to document the processes themselves, if they have trained manpower to do so or hire specialist third-party companies to document the processes. If an organisation is documenting its business processes for the very first time, it is advisable to hire a specialist company to do so, as process documentation involves a lot of considerations such as what to document, how to document, how to deliver the documents, what tools to use to document, etc. Once the processes are well-documented, organisations can choose to maintain documentation by themselves or sign up with a specialist company. Documenting processes involves six basic steps: Collecting information The first and most important task in process documentation is to gather correct and factual information, and then document it in a user-friendly language conforming to process documentation standards, and deliver it as a set of paper documents or over the intranet. In todays digital world where most of the employees have access to a computer, it is advisable to deliver the process documentation over the intranet with a paper copy in the organisations library. Collecting information may be a daunting task, and requires managements

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Documenting these processes is as important as having processes as it provides a written transcript of the organisations operations and working.
complete support. It involves discussing with the right individuals or groups representing senior and middle management, and even the operations staff that actually performs the operation on a day-to-day basis as each person in the process plays a significant role in the hierarchal structure of the process. Creating a process map Collecting factual information is just half the work involved in process documentation. Collected information needs to be sorted out in hierarchal processes, each representing an actual process in the organisation, for example, the leave application process in the HR domain. The process starts when an employee decides to take a leave. Leaves can be of various types such as annual leave, medical leave, or even unpaid leave. The employee then accesses the relevant form and fills in the required information. He then signs the form and sends it to his supervisor/line manager for approval. The application is either approved or rejected. If it is rejected, it still goes to personnel department for filing with the supervisors note. If the application is approved, it goes to personnel department for adjusting the leave balance with a copy to the accounts department for leave salary calculations. In this simple process two divisions, HR and accounts, are involved, and their processes should be documented separately. Hence creating a process map that shows interaction and hence the big picture, is a better option. Creating sub-processes A process map is a basic design of any process documentation and is inadequate. Complete process documentation needs breaking down the map into sub-processes, which might relate to each other, but also have their own characteristics. Documenting activities Sub-processes contain activities or tasks, which are the fundamental building blocks of the sub-processes. Activities or tasks consist of the actual steps to be performed. To document the steps, the employee who performs the tasks on a daily basis should assist. Creating visual representations Based on the collected information, a visual representation

of the process map, sub-processes and activities, should be created as some people understand visual representations better than reading text. It provides a complete overview of the processes in a glance. Visual representations are an excellent aid for senior management. Process-related documents Process documentation is incomplete if documents related to the process are not discussed. For example in a leave application process the process-related documents would be a leave form and leave policies. It is an excellent idea to link process-related documents with the process to enable the reader to access relevant documents right from the process. This is where document publishing is important. If the organisations choose to deliver all process and process-related documents on paper, it would be a nightmare to manage the documents. However, if the documents are delivered via intranet, readers would find it easy to access the documents. Process documentation is one of the most effective yet undermined productivity tools that can give your SME the cutting edge.

Easy progression to quality certification: Having completed and followed process steps help organisations achieve quality certification easily as processes facilitate the standard way of operation irrespective of who handles the operation. Simplified quality auditing tasks: Quality auditors are able to perform audits with the help of process documentation which describes each step in the process. This provides adequate auditable documentation. Easy accessibility of process documents: If organisations decide to publish documents over the intranet, all process and process-related documentation is available in a single-repository and via hyperlink. Reduced learning curve: As all processes are documented with role of each staff in the process it becomes easy for newly joined staff to understand their roles. Improved productivity: As all processes are documented, the staff need not worry about how to run day-to-day operations.

Some advantages of process documentation

VinayakDoddihal is director at Infinito Management Consultancy and specialises in managing and authoring simple-to-complex process and technical documentation. He has been instrumental in implementing DITA and Single-source methodologies to produce process and technical documentation for print and online media.

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International accreditation

Better safe than sorry


limatic changes and unsafe workplace practices have caused many a disaster and accident in recent years, resulting in loss of lives and assets. Health, safety and environment standards, more commonly known as HSE systems, deliver a solution for a healthy, safe and pollution-free work environment. What is HSE? HSE focuses on three parameters, and these are: health to prevent illness
Human Resources Board of Directors CEO

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A safe work culture and care for environment leads to a brighter future, explains Dr. Sameer Kumar.
and preserve lives; safety, to protect well being and human community by preventing injury; and environment by conserving air, water, soil, flora, fauna and energy. In short, HSE leads to accident- and pollution-free work environment with a great focus on prevention rather than correction. In technical terms HSE is an integrated management system, adopting the norms of international standard OHSAS 18001:2007 (occupational health and safety management
Public Relations Corporate HSE Finance Plant HSE

system) and ISO 14001:2004 (environment management system). HSE- Management System interacts and requires involvement of all Departments. What is ISO 14001:2004? Compliance with ISO 14001 certification series highlights adherence with environmental management standards developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). The ISO 14000 certification standards are designed to provide an internationally recognised framework for environmental management, measurement, evaluation and auditing. International standards ISO 14001:2004 are intended to provide organisations with the elements of an effective environmental management system (EMS) that can be integrated with other management requirements and help organisations to achieve environmental and economic goals. This standard specifies requirements for an environmental management system to enable an organisation to develop and implement a policy and objectives, which take into account legal requirements and information about significant environmental aspects. It is intended to apply to all types and sizes of organisations and to accommodate diverse geographical, cultural and social conditions. The overall aim of this ISO 14001:2004 is to support environmental protection and prevention of pollution in balance with socio-economic needs. This international standard is based on the methodology known as Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA). PDCA can be briefly described as follows:

Quality Assurance

HSE-MS

R&D

Purchasing Real Estate Govt. Relations

Engineering Quality Assurance Strategic Planning Legal

Manufacturing

policy and strategic objectives review leadership and commitment implementation and monitoring evaluation and risk management organisation, resources and documentation

planning

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HSE- Management System Model

International accreditation

Plan: To establish the objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with an organisations environmental policy. Do: Implement the planned processes.

Benefits of Integrated HSE Management System as per ISO 14001 & OHSAS 18001:

Check: Monitor and measure processes against environmental policy, objectives, targets, legal and other requirements, and report the results.

Act: Take actions to continually improve performance of the environmental management system. What is OHSAS 18001? The OHSAS 18001 is the international occupational health and safety management system standard. It is applicable to companies of any size, but is especially relevant to companies with a large workforce, manual and heavy work tasks, and/ or high risk work environments. Targeting the health and safety of employees proves that you are actively working to ensure that your operations are safe both for your employees and the surrounding environment. An active OHSAS system reduces the risk of accidents and personnel injuries through prevention. In turn, material losses and insurance costs are reduced. It ensures a well-qualified and

& environmental performance Reductions in accidents, costs, staff, absence and/or claims Improved insurance liability rating New customers / markets Increased efficiency / reduced costs Enhanced employee morale and image with public Enhanced image with regulators

Improved health, safety

ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 to allow for easy integration. Legislative and regulatory commitment and continual improvement are two important aspects of OHSAS 18001. How to achieve HSE as per ISO 14001 & OHSAS 18001? Firstly, establish an appropriate HSE policy, where one identifies the environmental aspects and occupational hazards arising from the organisations past, existing or planned activities, products and service. This would determine the significant occupational and environmental risks. Next, prioritise and set the HSE objectives and targets, followed by a structure in which to implement the policy and objectives. The next step involves planning, control, monitoring, preventive and corrective actions, auditing and review activities to ensure that the policy is complied with, and that the HSE management system remains active. One should always be ready to adapt to change, whether it is in objectives or organisational activities.

Advantages of ISO 14001:2004


1. 2. 3. 4.

enthusiastic workforce by fulfilling expectations of employees. The OHSAS system also serves the possibility of having an integrated management system that looks at factors such as quality, environment, health and safety. Overall, goodwill of a company is established by adhering to the right management standards. OHSAS 18001 has been developed to be compatible with

Process improvement. Environmental cost reduction. Better relationships with regulators Better relationships with insurers, investors, and financial markets 5. Product improvement 6. Marketing advantages 7. Better control of liabilities 8. Reduced regulatory burden 9. Protection of company image and name 10. Demonstration of responsible management

Dr. Sameer Kumar, CEO, Universal Consulting FZE, is a quality professional with an experience of working in more than seven countries. He has provided consultation and training to more than 400 clients in the UAE, UK, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and India. He has completed his MBA, PhD and is a Six Sigma champion by qualification and lead auditor of ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. E-mail: ceo@ucfglobal. com.

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Business law

Planning for tomorrow and the days after


If you have spent years making money and managing it wisely, it is logical that you must pass on your assets to inheritors of your choice, writes Nita Maru.

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Illustration: Aneesh Varghese

nexpected death is devastating enough, but the tragedy only gets compounded with related troubles and traumas ranging from frozen bank accounts to disputed family assets; businesses being handed over to undeserving partners, and sometimes, children being entrusted to people you have not chosen personally. There are also many uncertainties regarding real estate inheritance issues. Unlike other jurisdictions, the UAE does not practice right of survivorship

It is important to know about the instruments you can use to achieve these goals. (property passing on to a surviving joint owner upon death of the other) and the local courts will make final decisions. If you have spent years making money and managing it wisely, it is logical that you must plan for its future and ensure that your wealth, assets, business, and property are passed on to your family, or to the inheritors of your choice. Personal planning For expatriates living in the UAE, there is a very simple reason to make a will. The Dubai governments official website states that the UAE Courts will adhere to Shariah law in any situation where there is no will in place. This means if you die without a will, the local courts will examine your estate and distribute it according

The Intelligent SME

Business law

to Shariah law. While this may sound fine, its implications may not be so. All personal assets of the deceased, including bank accounts, will be seized until liabilities have been discharged. A wife who has children will qualify for only 1/8th of the estate, and without a legal will, this distribution will be applied automatically. Even shared assets will be frozen until the issue of inheritance is determined by the local courts, and surviving family members are often left without access to money during this period. The absence of a will may also goad authorities to intervene in the guardianship of bereaved children, especially when death befalls both parents simultaneously. Unless a will specifies who should raise your children, there is a possibility that their care may be entrusted to others. Business planning If you own or co-own a business, whether it be a free zone or an L.L.C, a significant portion of your wealth and your familys source of income

after your death is probably linked to it. It is just as important to plan for its future and ensure its seamless continuity and success. You can take recourse in strategic plans like setting up trusts or engaging in numerous off-shore solutions. Offshore trust formation is a highly effective estate planning and asset protection tool, particularly in the Middle East, where local Shariah law prevails.

The following information will help you determine whether offshore trust formation will fulfill your personal or business objectives. Those that own a business or shares in a business should consider the benefits of having an offshore trust in place. Asset protection for the settlor and beneficiaries in case of economic, political, family or business uncertainty, for example unexpected divorce or bankruptcy. Succession planning allowing for the transfer of wealth in a tax efficient and timely manner. Consolidation and administration of family wealth. Overcoming problems of obtaining probate (or its equivalent) in several jurisdictions. Bypassing the local laws in the event of death. Professional management of assets for the benefit of vulnerable beneficiaries who cannot manage or be trusted to manage their own assets. This could include disabled children, spendthrifts, or persons who might be adversely influenced by third parties. The trust deed is not a public document and provides confidentiality for both settlor and beneficiary. But since this is a complex area, it is essential to use professional lawyers who can advise you expertly. If you dont have proper plans in place, you simply cannot be sure what will happen after your death: whether your family will be provided for, who will look after your business, and when and how your beneficiaries will actually stand to benefit. It is best to be prepared today for all that may and can happen tomorrow.

What a trust offers

Nita Maru is a British qualified solicitor and founder of The Wills Specialists (www.willsuae. com). With over 14 years of experience in senior legal positions, including five in the UAE, Nita has authored several articles and essays on asset and wealth protection. Her focus is on safeguarding families, heirs and businesses, under succession and inheritance laws in Shariah jurisdictions. The Wills Specialists is a law firm based in Dubai, dedicated to the business of wills, asset protection, business succession planning, offshore structures and trusts. The firm is accredited by the Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department, and by the Dubai Rulers Court. Their office location is Office Suite 1305, Saba 1 Tower , Jumeirah Lakes Towers. Dubai. Tel: +971 4 448 4284, Email: info@willsuae. com.

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Real estate market

Transparent regulations key to investor confidence


Amal Nooreldin spoke to Farah Zafar, corporate, commercial and real estate expert, who has years of real estate experience in the UAE and the GCC.
AN: What do you think about the current situation in the real estate market in the UAE?
Dubai was not only the first centre in the GCC to offer expatriates the right to purchase and own free hold property, but also the first to establish a regulatory framework to regulate the sector. The regulations were set to ensure both transparency and stability in the real estate market to the relief of both end-users and investors. As a result of the global financial crisis, it is no surprise that wary investors are now more sophisticated (due diligence is now no longer an afterthought, but a pre-condition) and expect greater transparency and accountability. Maturing investors are also expecting greater protection and reassurance from the existing legal framework. There is no doubt that investor confidence in the existing legal framework will assist recovery in the market.

FZ: The real estate market, all over the world, went through one of its toughest periods in history due to the global recession, and the UAE was no different. The UAE suffered with a serious decline in property values, which was exacerbated by an over-supply of both residential and commercial properties and a lack of lending to developers and end-users. However, many believe that the UAE property prices are now stabilising, and there are indications of improvement. Dubai, which is the centre of the region, is showing steady progress, especially with high end projects in key areas such as Old Town, Dubai Marina and the Palm. FZ: The real estate markets in the GCC region are well placed to emerge from the global financial crisis due to various factors. Among these is the establishment of a robust regulatory framework and comprehensive regulations. AN: How important are regulations for a stable real estate market?

AN: How has the real estate regulatory framework evolved in the UAE?

FZ: Prior to the global financial crisis, Dubai experienced an unprecedented growth in its real estate market. This happened due to the fact that Dubai was the first centre in the GCC region to liberalise the ownership of freehold and leasehold properties for expatriates in designated areas. The emirate was also the first in the region to establish a regulatory body,

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The Intelligent SME

Farah Zafar

Real estate market

FZ: Now, emerging from the global financial crisis, Dubai continues to introduce regulatory initiatives (such as, the draft bankruptcy law and the draft commercial companies law). Strata laws and facility management

AN: What changes have been reflected in Dubai after the introduction of these initiatives?

the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA). RERA has regulated the Dubai market and introduced initiatives to ensure transparency, such as the requirement for escrow accounts, compulsory registration of developers, projects and off-plan sales, strata laws and so on. During the crisis, RERA intervened between developers and investors and sought to provide a forum in which disputes could be addressed and mediated before being referred to the Dubai Courts. RERA introduced their own legal department to manage terminations of sale agreements and/or disputes with respect to the same and to provide investors and developers with a forum in which to voice their concerns.

AN: What is the future of real estate market in the UAE?


is once again gaining momentum and moving towards a positive

invest in income generating assets. The existing laws will greatly assist the secondary market and provide sophisticated institutional investors the assurance they need to look at Dubais real estate and to cherry-pick assets. More recently, the extension of the jurisdiction of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts now allows foreign investors the opportunity to submit to an independent, common law judiciary based in the DIFC, in the English language, with a jurisdiction covering civil and commercial disputes. This is a significant and positive step for Dubai as foreign investors now have the comfort and security of having a dispute heard and resolved in the English language and in a familiar setting and this will further encourage major international players to look at the Dubai real estate market, again, in a positive light.

FZ: It is clear that the UAE market

FZ: The GCC real estate markets have significant potential for growth, but they are all different in structure and future growth plans. One should not compare one market to the other, as they are all unique and share different dynamics of growth, population, legislation and agenda. The UAE market will always be at the forefront of real estate, due to its robust legal framework, and with many prestigious real estate projects now being completed, it will move to its secondary phase of stabilised growth and investment activity, attracting a secondary market of home owners, as well as institutional and structured investors. AN: What about markets such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia that have planned mega infrastructure projects?

AN: Will this rising confidence in the Dubai market encourage investors to look at other markets in the GCC?

in general, are now giving more importance to price, location, quality and available amenities apart from the profile of the developers.

More recently, the extension of the jurisdiction of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts now allows foreign investors the opportunity to submit to an independent, common law judiciary based in the DIFC, in the English language, with a jurisdiction covering civil and commercial disputes.
regulations that are critical to further encourage investors and to provide confidence in the real estate market, particularly to the secondary market, have also been given due importance. Due to established laws and regulations being in place, and such laws being tried and tested through the courts and arbitration, Dubai is attracting a secondary market of investors, such as institutional investors and major international funds that are actively looking to path. The Dubai Land Department official figures show that real estate transactions for villas have been on an unprecedented high since last year. Combined with stabilising prices and the pause on newly introduced projects, it will help the market gain confidence. The residential market will always flourish with a special focus on prime localities and high-end projects. Buyers are also gradually showing interest in the commercial sector. Buyers,

FZ: The Qatari market has recovered quickly from the financial recession, and is now focusing on the preparation for FIFA World Cup 2022. Mega master planned developments and infrastructure works are well underway with huge investments and strategic government funding being made in all key sectors of their economy to ensure their longterm success. The KSA market is also focusing on real estate projects and infrastructure, and is being supported by its government in key areas. The KSA residential segment is growing the fastest, as the government is trying to bridge a widening demand - supply gap, resulting from a huge shortage of housing for its own nationals. Saudi Arabia expects to manage this supply demand imbalance with new laws and the much awaited mortgage law, which has been on the cards for some time.
The Intelligent SME 83

HR insights

A no-nonsense approach to managing stress

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Managing workplace stress is neither complicated nor does it require any major monetary investment, explains Carole Spiers.
anaging stress at the workplace involves creating a healthy organisational environment. This requires the building of a climate of trust and respect, where good communication, employee recognition, flexibility of control and cultural differences are all valued. The aim should be to foster a culture of inclusiveness where everyone feels like a part of the business - from the office cleaner to the CEO. It has to be an environment where everyone feels important in the organisation and, where, all employees and staff work towards a common goal for the overall success of the business or public service. Implementing and maintaining a healthy corporate structure helps lower stress levels, increases productivity, reduces absence through sickness - and all without raising costs.

Accountability Managers need to be accountable for the climate they create at the workplace. It is a managers responsibility to build a listening culture where it is acceptable for any individual to feel comfortable in talking about stress-related issues. Managers should encourage an open door policy and be accessible and attentive to employees that try to communicate with them in person.

They also need to know how, when and where they could call on HR for its support. Closing the effort/reward gap is another way to improve a workplace culture. This means, making sure that employees are recognised and rewarded appropriately for their efforts. The best way to ensure this would be to ask employees, directly, what single action by management would make them feel more valued. Employers are sometimes surprised by the answers they receive. Many of those questioned will say that they would appreciate merely a simple thank you for a job well done and delivered on time. A healthy work environment

The Intelligent SME

HR insights

is a key element for a stress-free workforce. Wherever possible, stress factors such as excessive noise, heat and cold, overcrowding or long working hours need to be identified and mitigated as far as is possible. Staff well being must be a primary consideration- internally and externally. Health screening and stress awareness programmes should be a part of a normal workplace routine, and the place of work needs to feel more like a community than simply the place where people earn their living. Key factors in stress management Organisations need to move away from an over-reliance on technology and systems, and adopt approaches that are more successful in engaging the individual. The missing ingredient in achieving effective performance is frequently the fact that many management systems lack leadership and are neither motivating nor inspiring. It is vital for managers to engage with their teams, although it has to be

recognised that they cannot always be all things to all people. Sometimes they have to be authoritarian, whilst still being a good listener. Modern managers need a comprehensive toolkit of people management skills in order to encourage a two-way dialogue between themselves and members of their teams. It is essential to get buy-in from their teams in order to establish loyalty and commitment in return. Whilst it may not be possible to increase remuneration, praise and recognition will encourage employees into wanting to do more for their managers and to give their best. The team that engages - the team that is inspired and motivated - will invariably build competitive advantage. Communication Communication is a key factor in the culture of any organisation in order for stress to be quickly identified and effectively managed. It is important not only to have an open two-way dialogue between employer

and employees, but also between the CEO and the Board, between the Board and its line management, and finally between HR and staff at all levels. Ineffective communication has been found to be a weakness in many organisations and insufficient time and training is given to this key area. Middle managers often find themselves promoted to a position with responsibility for a team, but without the necessary communication skills to manage that team effectively. There is little that is more important to personal morale than receiving praise for a job well done. Regular appraisals identify strengths and weaknesses and allow for assessment of both CPD and on-the-job training. Appraisals should be a two-way process that enables managers and their team members to agree on targets for performance and to have a clear area of responsibility. It is at times such as these that stress-related issues should be addressed and resolved. Recognition Being recognised as an important part of the business machine is almost as important as the monetary reward on offer. Recognition and reward have to be commensurate with the task, but undervaluing skills at any level can lead to low productivity and poor morale. Providing specific benefit packages, over and above the basic salary, is another way of expressing recognition and enhancing rewards. To be effective within an organisation, individuals need to be aware of the corporate goals and, where possible, to have an individual stake in achieving them. Morale The morale of an organisation is fundamental to its success. High morale suggests a well motivated and energised workforce that is keen to succeed. Employees will be committed to meeting and even exceeding targets when stress factors are identified and either eradicated or minimised. Good morale is essential The Intelligent SME 85

Implementing and maintaining a healthy corporate structure helps lower stress levels, increases productivity, reduces absence through sickness - and all without raising costs.

HR insights

for success, in any sphere. Given that long hours of working is endemic in some sectors, understanding the importance of work/life balance and how to achieve it, is a key management skill, and this balance needs to be implemented as part of a company policy. When organisational health is approached from a cultural perspective, rather than taking a programmed approach, there is a much greater likelihood of affecting employee well being. A feel-good factor is conducive to an organisations competitive advantage. A sense of community, a shared vision and a positive outlook bind groups and organisations together and enable them to be more productive and creative. Healthy workplace culture Communication skills to motivate individual talent include active listening techniques to identify and rectify grievances; techniques for effective announcing, interviewing and cautioning; and defusing conflict through key phrases to keep dialogues moving. Better interpersonal

communication equals smoother running and better outcomes, and very often, less pressure. Winning the war on stress Winning the war for talent and the war on stress also means attracting the best and brightest recruits by improving the organisations cultural understanding of diverse mindsets. Within a properly constructed and managed workplace culture, employees need to feel included within the vision of the business and to have a sense of security and belonging, and as we spend at least half our waking hours at work, that is of great importance. The drive to ensure that stress is recognised and mitigated wherever possible needs to come from senior management. The top team need to ensure that employees are not frightened to talk about stress-related factors, know that if they have problems, then it is acceptable to discuss them, and are aware that they can go to management and HR, as and when they are needed.

An organisations human resource is the essential key to sustainable success and when that simple fact fails to be appreciated, then staff turnover and associated costs will rise, valuable training, talent and ability will be lost leading to higher overheads and a reduced return on the most important investment of all - human resources. The question arises, therefore, why do so many companies and organisations ignore the fact that stress not only can kill people, but also kills motivation and creativity, which is then reflected in increased staff turnover and, ultimately, profits? However, after working in the profession for over 25 years, I am now seeing increasing success in getting the message across. Is this rocket science? Absolutely not!

First contact counselling teams - This is where volunteers from the organisation are trained to listen effectively to employees stress related problems. They are just one example of how employees can be encouraged to commit more of themselves for the benefit of their colleagues, their customers, their employer and the community. Creative self-development - It is the new dynamic of career progress. Individual empowerment requires a greater understanding of the impact of positive attitude on individual and group performance; an increased resistance to those who are contemptuous of effort. Flexibility - It is a key to reducing stress levels. Organisations often lose valuable talent because of an unwillingness to be flexible, or to alter work patterns in order to cater for particular needs, such as those of the disabled. Home working and buddying schemes - This is where new recruits are provided with an informal mentor- these are just examples of the new approaches that can be taken to reduce stress levels. Demonstration - Demonstrating a commitment to society isnt just about social conscience, it makes good business sense - helping to attract and retain the best talent, influencing customers and buyers, and powering long-term success. Activities such as supporting a local charity can prove beneficial to both parties by becoming identified with the community in a positive role. Being associated with a local charity is something that professional firms such as lawyers and accountants are often well aware of, but many commercial and industrial companies could learn and benefit from this. 86 The Intelligent SME

What you require for a healthy workplace

Caroles credibility is rooted in 20 years success as CEO of a leading UK stress management consultancy, working with equal success both in the UK and the Gulf. She is a world authority on corporate stress, a BBC Guest Broadcaster and author of a new book Show Stress Whos Boss! Carole is an inspirational motivational speaker, and a weekly columnist. Show Stress Whos Boss! is available http:// www.showstresswhosboss.co.uk where you will also receive a signed copy of the book + FREE stress test card and in all good bookshops in the UAE.

Marketing insights

Cultivating business through relationships


A good quality referral that has been pre-filtered, confirmed and referred could close a deal in a matter of minutes, writes Phil Bedford.
an you imagine the following conversation throughout Dubai and around the world in many businesses during the last few years? Maybe you have had it yourself. We need to get more business so what should we do? Even if SMEs have money, they tend to spend it on the things they have always done - advertising and marketing, and PR or sales people to make cold calls. While these do work, they all have an ongoing cost attached (e.g. monthly between AED10,000 and AED100,000), costs for the SME or micro business that could actually put them out of business. Studies show that globally over 70 per cent of SMEs go bust in their first two years. Alexander Williams of the Dubai SME informed me it is more like 80 per cent in the UAE. The above methods of new business generation are still not the number one source of landed new business. So what is it? Where should we be investing our knowledge and training to get more business? What no one ever does is put up their hand and say, Lets get referral marketing training that is how to grow our business by relationship or networking. You may already be scoffing to yourself saying networking doesnt work. I challenge you to read on. Why dont they say it? Especially when for most SMEs between 70 per 88 The Intelligent SME

cent and 100 per cent of their business comes through referrals, word of mouth and networking (they are not the same thing by the way). Business owners like to be in control and when you cant control something we tend to opt for what we can control, the things we know and have always known, such as pumping money into getting sales people or advertising and marketing budgets. They dont say: Lets get trained

in referral marketing. Referrals always come by chance dont they? Well, actually, they dont have to. I will say it again because its so important, they dont have to come by chance. You can predict referrals. You can actually predict the top 70-100 per cent of your new business. At the Referral Institute, the referral marketing training, consulting and coaching organisation, we specialise in showing business

Supplied image

Marketing insights

The Most Effective Methods for Finding and Landing Clients


Word of mouth (23%). referrals (23%) and tapping their own personal and protessional network (17%) are freelancers most effective methods for nding and landing clients. Online job boards (9%) such as Elance and oDesj ranked above networking (7%), social media (3%) and cold calling (2%)

Historically what has been your MOST effective methods for nding and landing clients for your freelance business?
Word of Mouth Referrala Tapping my Personal professional network Online job boards (Elance, o Deak, Guru) Local networking Other Email Socail Media Cold calling Direct mail Craigolist SEO (search engine opimization) Paid directories Advertising Article marketing

23.1% 23.0% 16.5% 8.8% 6.9% 4.8% 4.3% 2.8% 1.9% 1.5% 1.3% 1.0%

1.0%
0.8% 0.8% 0% 5% 10% 15%
Graph: Source 2011 Freelancers report

20%

25%

owners and sales people how to generate a regular, high quality stream of referrals for your business by strategically and systematically filtering and training your network to bring you clients ready to buy. Busting myths about networking Clients are not your best source of referral. One of the biggest delusions about providing good client service is that if I give good customer service then my clients will refer me. Unfortunately, thats just not true. They may refer you if and when they are asked- Do you know someone who. which is nice, but then it is chance and you cant grow your business on chance. You cant go back to a client on a regular basis and say please give me

referrals, I am having a bad month! If you do repeatedly then how long is it before the client leaves you? Yes, clients can be a good source

Business owners like to be in control, and when you cant control something, we tend to opt for what we can control, the things we know and have always known, such as pumping money into getting sales people or advertising and marketing budgets.

of referral, but your plan needs to be more than just good customer service. Good customer service does more to keep clients than it does to generate new referrals. Word of mouth works? Yes, it is always works; its just not always working for you. Business owners these days pay significant amounts to develop their brand presence that it can often be a hefty percentage of the start-up costs. Then many businesses proceed to destroy their brand daily with poor business ethics. Not returning phone calls or e-mail; turning up late for meetings, mistreating their suppliers or clients and of course not doing their job properly. The suggested ratio is 5:55 or The Intelligent SME 89

Marketing insights

these days possibly 5:2000 and more. Do something good and people will tell between three-five people. Do something bad and they will tell 11 people and each of these 10 will tell five. In the modern age with social media this could mean thousands or hundreds of thousands of people seeing complaints. This is serious, and businesses need to consider and control their bad word of mouth as much as develop good word of mouth. Delusions The more referrals you get, the merrier; but the game is not about getting lots of referrals, its about getting quality referrals. I know lots of people who tell me they dont need my help because they have lots of referrals. What they dont realise is that often these are nothing more than leads. A lead still has to be worked on because it is not necessarily prequalified. This means a large investment of your time as a sales person often with no payoff. My studies show between six and eight hours for a lead. A good quality referral that has been pre-filtered and confirmed and referred to you by a trusted (and trained) contact could close in a matter of minutes. Imagine being able to see less people and close more business because your network has been trained to do the work for you. Phew, whatever will you do with all that free time? Earn more and live more perhaps? Networking Its more about doing the right networking with the right skills in the right places. I regularly see people rushing around from one group to another, because they dont manage to close a deal they consider it a waste of time. Networking is about relationship building, not selling. Lets face it, we all go networking with a view to hit a GOAL whether its to sell something or simply make connections that can help us both in business and life. Its the way we 90 The Intelligent SME

do this that reflects whether we are remembered positively or negatively. The challenge is when the majority are there to sell and very few are there to buy there is a disconnect and the feel of the event becomes mercenary. So here are some thoughts for you: Try and meet people who you can look to build a relationship with, people with whom you could develop a referral relationship by passing each other numerous referrals. This is a more efficient conversation than trying to close one deal in the night. Try to listen more than you talk. The more you can learn about them, and what they need or want, the easier it is to build a relationship. Set a goal for who you want to meet or what you wish to achieve. While you may wish to stay with one person you know for comfort, you can either individually or with that person try to meet new people. Ten minutes with each person is good, if they are of interest book a meeting at another time when you can sit and discuss opportunities in comfort. Take a pen to make a note on business cards you get. Make a note to remember the discussion. Remember

your business cards! Follow up with the people you meet in an appropriate way. Because they gave you their business card it is not instant permission for you to send your catalog of products. If you dont believe me think about when someone has done it to you. What happens to that e-mail? Delete, correct? Networking and doing business by relationship is not new. It is something we have always done as individuals and as a race. We have simply lost our way, and forgotten how simple it can be to do and how powerful it can be. The trick is to make it efficient, by spending the right time with the right people and using the right skills to achieve your goals. We all have the car; we just need to learn how to drive it properly. Unfortunately, most people have the car, but are still insisting on walking.

An experienced business trainer, Phil Bedford brings over a decade of experience to his role as Master Franchisee for the Referral Institute. His expertise and experience of working with both companies and networking associations, coupled with a passion for training have helped him immensely. He regularly appears as a speaker in the UAE and abroad, educating people on how to build their business by word of mouth and Creating Referrals for Life.

Leadership

Setting goals for success

Corrina Cross shares some pointers for setting and achieving goals, to help you to lead a better professional and personal life.
pay somebody for a service- such as an outsourced accounting firm- so that you have more free time to work on your core business.

ost people set daily, weekly or monthly goals without looking any further, and wonder why their lives do not improve. You must have a long-term vision that acts as your lighthouse always steering you in the right direction. This vision is about how you want your organisation (or your life) to look like in the ideal world. As you can see with some of the most successful companies in the world, their vision drives people forward and helps them to work together because they all know where their company is heading to. With a vision in sight, it becomes easy to set goals. Values will keep you on track In recent times, it seems everybody is talking about values. Put simply, values are whats important to you or, for corporate goals, important to your company. Once you determine a set of values that are important to your company, these will act as guidelines to help members of staff to keep on track. Break goals into stages Most people have heard of SMART

goals, that are:Specific: No use setting vague goals such as earn more money. Measurable: Without a measure, you wont know youve achieved your goal. Achievable: Setting goals you can strive towards. Realistic: Totally unrealistic goals will only cause disappointment. Timed: You need to know by when you want to achieve your goal. But, even with SMART goals, there are generally only two options: success or failure. If you break your goals into stages, starting with something you are absolutely guaranteed to achieve, it will give you momentum, will give you something to celebrate, and push you to go on and achieve the next stage. Make yourself accountable Many people I work with want to keep their goals to themselves. I recommend not only sharing your goals with someone, but asking them to help you achieve that goal. Someone you trust and someone you know will agree to help you. Help can come in all shapes and sizes. You could ask a friend to simply remind you about your goal. Or you could

See it! Hear it! Feel it! Many people these days use vision boards so they can actually see how life will look once they achieve their vision. It has been proven many times that this helps people to achieve their goals as they can see what their ideal life looks like. I suggest people take a few minutes each day to close their eyes and visualise what they will see, what they will hear, and what they will feel once their goals have been achieved. The unconscious mind is very powerful. By adding feeling to your vision, it tricks the unconscious mind into believing the goal has already been achieved and, thus, works on helping to turn that goal into reality.

Corrina Cross runs powerful interactive workshops for both corporates and individuals that deliver results with improved motivation and increased productivity. Check out the website www.the-peoplepeople.com or email her on Corrina@the-people-people. com to find out more.

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Leadership

How (and why) to become Present with power a diehard optimist?


Kevin Abdulrahman writes on how to make presentations impactful and focused.

Anesh Jagtiani makes a case for diehard optimists on the road to success in whatever one does.
both of them are creating their views of the reality according to the way that they think it to be. And these views of the reality are influencing their beliefs, their actions and the results in their life. So the question isnt whether or not an optimist or a pessimist is more realistic, the question is what kind of a life do you want to live? If you take on an optimistic view of the world and are always looking for possibilities to learn, to grow and to achieve what you want, that view of the world will shape your beliefs and your actions. Naturally, this will lead to actions, which will help you to make the most of every opportunity to learn, to grow and to achieve. Of course, you could also take on the pessimistic point of view and see failures and negative circumstances as something to run from instead of seeing them as something to learn from and to grow through. You can be a pessimist and see nothing but hindrances on the path to your success instead of seeing the possibilities for achieving what you want. Its all in how you process it. So, if at this point, youre convinced of why its so important to become a diehard optimist, lets look at some solid strategies for developing a persistently optimistic mindset. Look for chances to learn Opportunities to learn are everywhere if you know where

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snt it true that you cant be positive about everything and that, sometimes, you just have to face reality? This is a very interesting question because it actually gives a hint as to the importance of being an optimistic thinker instead of a pessimistic thinker. The question: Who is more realistic?

You might have heard the saying: We dont see the world as it really is, we see it as we are. In other words, whenever you are describing your views of the world, whether youre being optimistic or pessimistic, youre not describing the world as it really is... youre describing the world as you see it. So, who is more realistic, the optimist or the pessimist? The answer is that

The Intelligent SME

Leadership

learning experience and opportunity for growth. Look for chances to achieve In addition to learning and growing, achievement is one of the most rewarding things that you can experience in life. As long as you are focused on treating things as opportunities to learn and to grow, achievement will always come as a natural result. As this happens, your learning and growth will continue and you will become a person of high achievement and inspiration to others. TIP: Write down these three steps to diehard optimism on a note card and carry them with you everywhere you go. Make it a consistent practice in your life until being optimistic becomes an unstoppable subconscious habit.

to look for them. For example, every failure presents an opportunity to learn, and so does every negative circumstance that comes into your life. Learning from these circumstances will keep you from repeating the same mistakes over and over, and will help you to achieve the second principle of becoming a diehard optimist. Look for chances to grow Growth is not an option in life, its a certainty. The only question is whether or not youre growing into someone with a strong character or someone whose life is governed by fear and uncertainty. The world around you is constantly moving forward, and you must continue to grow and to adapt with it. If you focus on everything as an opportunity to learn, you can take what you learn and put it into practice in order to make yourself a better person. The other option is to learn

The world around you is constantly moving forward, and you must continue to grow and to adapt with it. If you focus on everything as an opportunity to learn, you can take what you learn and put it into practice in order to make yourself a better person.
nothing or to take a pessimistic point and allow yourself to grow into someone who is fearful and timid. The motivational speaker Les Brown once said that who you become in life is more important than what you do or what you achieve. This speaks of the importance of growth and development of character, which is only possible if you treat everything as a

Anesh Jagtiani is the CEO of Empowering Leaders Group (M. E). He is a professional speaker and trainer. His leadership programme helps managers motivate and retain their top people, improve their effectiveness in communication and maximise the bottom line of companies. He is also a TV anchor of a show called TOP GUNS on ZEE TV where he has interviewed the 12 most successful Indian entrepreneurs of UAE. He can be reached at anesh@elgme.com or www. elgme.com

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Business Village offers state of the - art conference and meeting infrastructure, with a great degree of flexibility to suit various requirements of business conferences, seminars and workshops. Business Village offers state of the - art conference and meeting infrastructure, with a great degree of flexibility to sui t various requirements of business conferences, seminars and workshops. For conferencing and events enquiries, please email: Afra.almarri@sme.ae

The Business Incubation Center (BIC) assists businesses in critical early development stage through on-site value-adding business development services. The BIC team offers an opportunity for entrepreneurs to manage their business development trajectory by reflecting on their business, identifying opportunities and challenges by recognising and responding to market signals, and minimising risks of fluctuating sales and fixed costs. For Further Enquiries: Contact Manager Incubation Telephone: +971 4 3613000/1 Fax: +971 4 3681000

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THOSE WHO MADE A MARK.

WOMEN
ENTREPRENEURS

Trendy meets tradition


The Intelligent SME spoke to Hend Al Mutawa, a fashion designer with lofty ambitions.

TIS: What was the need, and what inspired you to set up Nabrman?

HM: As per our culture and traditions, the Abaya is a main part of our clothing. Being from Dubai, we are exposed to people from different cultural backgrounds, and, we are aware of the importance of the fashion industry. Hence, Dubai itself has inspired me to create a style under the brand name Nabrman which is always up-to date with the current fashion trends in the market. Nabrman translates to white flower in the Turkish language, and symbolises purity and elegance. Nabrman

Abayas are designed to reflect these values, with the result that these have become a fashion statement for the regions young and trendy women.

TIS: What was the initial response to

HM: My vision is to highlight the importance of our traditions and culture, as well as change peoples perception about the Abaya and what it actually represent in the Arab world. An Abaya can be designed in so many ways; it is a fashion statement on its own. At

your designs? Why did you choose to design abayas?

first, people were not much aware that Abayas could be transformed and blended into the latest fashion styles. However, as soon as they realised that Nabrman has demonstrated Abayas at a different level of style, the responses were outstanding.

Now my abayas are popular among Westerners and Asians as well. Traditional abayas are given a modern twist with many varieties of fine fabrics and a kaleidoscope of colours. Over time, Nabrman has found a perfect mix between vintage and modern designs.

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Women entrepreneurs

HM: This is my first venture, which I have established on Jumeirah Road in Dubai during the last quarter of 2009. As any business, challenges have to crop up one way or another. Some of the challenges I faced included the high market competition with regard to our traditional-wear (Abayas). Therefore, I had to strategise accordingly in order to ensure sales and production sections of the company are performing proficiently.
The other challenge was to find out what strategies would be most effective for the company given the other challenges such as the market competition.

TIS: Is this your first venture? What

were the hardships you encountered?

entrepreneurs: plan creatively with effective strategies, and keep trying and never quit, and to know that even if a situation seems to be difficult, there is always a way to achieve your goals.

HM: My hobbies include playing Sudoku, writing Arabic poetry, playing basketball and table tennis. TIS: If not for design, what is the HM: Well, as I am from a finance background, Im currently building
alternate career path you would have chosen?

TIS: What are your hobbies and


special preferences?

my career as an auditor in a major organisation and managing my own business at the same time. Managing the business has introduced me to the different aspects in career paths, such as HR, finance, and marketing. All of them are very interesting to me. In a career, nothing is more satisfying than enjoying what you do every day.

TIS: What is your management

HM: My management philosophy is basically to have a friendly and welcoming environment that encourages collaboration between different teams in the company to achieve the organisations objectives.

philosophy that makes the difference in your business?

TIS: What are your future plans? Do

TIS: What lessons would you give to your fellow women entrepreneurs? HM: I wouldnt specifically call them lessons, but I would advice all ladies who are currently or planning to be

HM: I recently had the launch of my 2012 Fall/Winter collection at Atmosphere, in Burj Khalifa. It was the first ever fashion show that was held at the highest level from the ground floor. It was a great success. Yes, I have some plans that are going to be implemented as soon as theyre finalised. The feasibility studies for the plans are yet to be executed. Of course, as a developing business our objective at Nabrman is to grow and expand the organisation through efficient business strategies, which will allow us not only to extend our growth, but also to establish efficient approaches as well as a solid foundation for the business. My vision is to provide the best quality designer wear at a very creative and luxurious level, which is up to date with the latest fashion trends and desired by Arab ladies everywhere.

you plan to expand Nabrman further? Alternatively, will you be starting any related businesses?

The Intelligent SME

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Social media

Lets get social


Have a question about social media and promoting your business online? UAE-based social media consultant and award-winning marketing strategist Farrukh Naeem answers your queries on using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, AdWords, SEO and any other online services. Send your questions to farrukh@farrukhnaeem.com
Q. The website Pinterest has been
making waves in the news. Is it only for fashion and shopaholics? Or is Pinterest a platform that businesses can use to engage their customers? as one of the top 50 websites of 2011 while it was still in Beta. In January 2012, Pinterest crossed 10 million unique US visitors faster than any other standalone website in history, according to ComScores data cited by TechCrunch. the internet to categorized boards simply by clicking the Pin It widget on their browser. A bride-to-be could be pinning wedding dress designs she comes across online in a pin-board titled My Bridal Dress. Or a geek in love with the latest gadgets could be pinning his favourite products on a board. People can follow others boards and re-pin what they like onto their own boards. The focus is on discovering cool things rather than searching armed with a keyword or product name. According to Shareaholic, Pinterest brought more traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google Plus, Reddit, and Youtube combined! So if your business too can create boards that are followed and pins that are re-pinned and followed back to the source, you would see the ROI fairly quickly. A few tips to help you get noticed on Pinterest: Keep it simple and visual: Pinterest is all about images. If you can pin powerful, beautiful, shareable images of your products and services, you have a high chance to being followed and pulling in traffic to your website. Theme your boards: The ability to categorise your pins like albums of related images is a very powerful tool. Use it to segment your audience, club your offerings under themes. Why not launch occasion specific boards- like Eid, Mothers Day, and Christmas? Make it interesting: Even if you are a B2B brand, you can build a strong fan base on Pinterest if you can convey valuable information visually and strikingly. Boards with business infographics are all the rage on Pinterest. Add a Follow button to your website: Let your website visitors know you are on Pinterest- the site does not have business pages yet but you can use it as an individual would, under your brand name.

A. TIME magazine chose Pinterest

The trend has caught on outside US too, with Germany registering 2956 per cent growth in visitors to the site, Spain with 1348 per cent rise and Italy visitors rising by 794 per cent - from May 2011 to January 2012, according to ComScore. The most interesting thing about the rise of Pinterest is the simple idea behind the website. It lets people pin any image they like while browsing 98 The Intelligent SME

Social media

Be a community player, not a salesman: As with all other social media platforms, you need to add value to the community and share things that are not just about your businesses. If you are a fitness brand, you could pin health recipes, for example. If you are an airline, breathtaking travel imagery from various destinations could work for you. Useful Links: http://bit.ly/Htayyc http://bit.ly/GZZhTs http://bit.ly/Hm6cum Note: If you would like an invite to Pinterest, please email me your contact details at farrukh@ FarrukhNaeem.com. Once inside, you can follow me at http://pinterest. com/farrukhnaeem

would directly land on the pages timeline. Although at first glance, it might look like an uphill battle for brands, in reality not much has changed if you have been bringing in traffic through ads- you can still direct traffic to your apps on your Facebook page. [Etihad Airways page with description directing towards well designed icons and tabs under the cover] The most striking feature if used correctly is the page cover- a large horizontal image of your choice that rests on top of your business page. Before you start thinking of it as an

No price or purchase information, such as 40 per cent off or Download it at our website No contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Pages About sections References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features Calls to action, such as Get it now or Tell your friends Large organisations as well as smaller businesses have found creative ways to stay within the rules and use their Facebook covers well to cut through the clutter. Many other interesting features will now make the Facebook experience more engaging for users, but also more challenging for page owners. The timeline view is best suited for posts that have attractive images, visuals and videos rather than text. Brands and businesses that have a loyal fan base and a heritage have already filled in their timelines with

Q. The Facebook page for my A. Following up timeline for

business now has a new timeline. What are the major changes? personal profiles, Facebook announced that all pages will have to change to the new timeline by end of March. For marketers, a significant change is the removal of the default landing page option for non-fans of the page which was used by businesses to capture likes and leads. With the new page changes, fans

ad banner, here are the official rules for covers which must be at least 399 pixels wide:

their rich history going back decades. [Fanta is encouraging users to explore its history through The Intelligent SME 99

Social media

milestones, spend time scrolling through its new timeline, and also engage with their Likes] The admin panel is a welcome evolution. It is easier to moderate comments and spam (which is now hidden rather than grayed out) and get an overview in a quick glance. The About section of pages is now more clean and easier to read, in a wide and open, 2-column format. Apps can now be showcased with wider, landscape images right under the cover, rather than the miniscule icons of the older design on the left hand side navigation.

Now you can also contact a page through a private message and as a page admin, interact with fans through one-to-one messages between page and fan rather than on the public timeline. Most of the preliminary research on the effect of the new timeline, on engagement has been positive. For local businesses, likes and comments seem to have increased with the change to the new timeline but pages with millions of followers, have reported slight declines in engagement levels. It is too early to say definitively what works best, but the early adopters and experimenters

will learn the lessons faster than others. Useful Links: http://on.fb.me/H2528Q http://onforb.es/H1Zg7v http://scr.bi/GYz5J2

Farrukh Naeem is a digital strategist and social media consultant based in Abu Dhabi, UAE. His marketing blog (copywriterjournalist.com) has a readership across 140 countries and his tweets (@farrukhnaeem) are followed by more than 11000 people worldwide. Farrukh helps SMEs and individuals build and grow their influence online using social media and online marketing.

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Book review

A practical guide to business writing


How to recognise potential problems in writing style, and their solutions.
KM: There is a need in the Gulf region to prepare our businessmen and fresh graduates for todays challenging job market, and help them to communicate effectively at their workplace. My book is locally published, and meant to address the most problematic aspects of business people in the region.
put in place to publish this book?

TIS: What is the purpose of A

practical guide to business writing?

hallenging business environments have placed a greater emphasis on communication skills, particularly in the area of written communication. It is this need that has influenced Khaled Mohamed Ali Salem Al Maskari to bring out A Practical Guide to Business Writing, a comprehensive handbook that gives an in-depth overview of major techniques to enhance writing and communication skills. The publication focuses on clear and concise writing style that emphasises on different kinds of written communication, and common writing errors that need to be avoided. The book also helps business executives to write professional e-mails that are in tune with the policies of the organisation and aid in attaining business goals. The Intelligent SME had a word with Al Maskari. 102 The Intelligent SME

This book is designed for fresh graduates as well as other professionals who truly wish to develop overall proficiency in writing effective business letters and e-mails in order to communicate successfully and with integrity in the workplace.

TIS: In your opinion what needs to be

KM: Based on my experience in the field, and my intention to assist and train fresh graduates in the oil and gas industry, I conducted research, which aimed at identifying techniques and tools to promote effective communication in writing. It was apparent that staff inability to write effective business letters or e-mails was their major impediment for effective communication in the work place. In fact, fresh graduates lack effective writing skills and may possess only moderate competence in linguistic and rhetoric skills needed to produce appropriate, meaningful and accurate written documents in various genres. My intention has been to put together a set of basic principles that readers can use to write effectively .

TIS: What kind of research have you

KM: There are three main parts in writing: grammar, vocabulary and writing style. All three parts are interdependent, which means that we must be good in all of them to write well. It is like a motor vehicle, when an important part is not functioning properly, it affects the performance of the whole vehicle. I tend to focus on writing style in this book to help my readers recognise potential problems in their writing styles, so that they are able to express better. TIS: What sort of response have you

improved in business communication, besides writing skills?

KM: This has been a hit in the business world, and looks set to put the UAE on the publishing map. I am also being invited to conduct seminars and workshops to universities, institutes and organisations to emphasise the importance of business communication in todays business.

received? Are you planning any other publications in the near future?

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Carole Spiers is CEO of a leading UK Stress Management Consultancy, working with equal success both in the UK and the Gulf. She is a World Authority on Corporate Stress, BBC Guest-Broadcaster, Gulf News columnist and Motivational Speaker. Book her for your next conference. Email info@carolespiers.co.uk, Tel: (0) 20 8954 1593 or visit www.carolespiers.co.uk

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P.O. Box 89735, Dubai - UAE Tel: +9714 2659704, 2650312 Fax: +9714 2690566, 2651708 E-mail: info@spiholding.net www.theintelligentsme.com www.spi-holding.com www.twitter.com/intelligentsme www.facebook.com/TheIntelligentSME

FEBRUARY 23, 2012 THURSDAY

Gen-next Fashion Party, featuring designs by Modupe Omonze and Najwa Imran, at NDulge Club, in Atlantis the Palm, Dubai.

Designers Modupe Omonze and Najwa Imran.


CORPORATE PARTNERS ALLIANCE PARTNER HOSPITALITY PARTNER MEDIA PARTNER STYLING PARTNER INITIATIVE BY

Prof. Christopher Abraham, head - Dubai campus and senior vice president - Institutional Development, SP Jain School of Global Management, recently conducted an interactive session on Are you a top performer? focusing on the connection between success and happiness.

Empowering Decision Makers

Date: February 22, 2012 Time: 6.30pm.

Are you a top performer?

Corrina Cross, owner of The People People, and motivational speaker conducted an interactive session on personality profiling and behavioural analysis at Are you a top performer? held at Business Village, Dubai.

Dr. Edward Roderick, managing partner & co-chairman of Envestors MENA held an interactive session on How to get funding for your company focusing on the factors that equity investors look for in a business model.

Empowering Decision Makers

Date: March 28, 2012 Time: 6.30pm.

How to get funding for your company

Events calendar

Networking opportunities
Important business events across the globe
POWER & ELECTRICITY WORLD ASIA Date: April 16-20, 2012 Venue: Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, Singapore Power & Electricity Asia is the biggest, most influential event that brings together C-level executives to discuss strategies and investment and partnership opportunities to ensure business growth, energy security and sustainable development. Website: www.terrapinn.com DUBAI ENTERTAINMENT AMUSEMENT AND LEISURE SHOW 2012 Date: April 17-19, 2012 Venue: Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai investors and developers, consultants, architects, designers and other real estate professionals to drive growth in Abu Dhabis real estate market. Website: www.cityscapeabudhabi.com PISCINE MIDDLE EAST Date: April 22-25, 2012 Venue: ADNEC Abu Dhabi Arabian Travel Market is the travel and tourism event unlocking business potential within the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. Tourism destinations from the Middle East and around the world showcase a diverse range of accommodation options, breathtaking tourism attractions and new airline routes. Website: www.arabiantravelmarket.com MIDDLE EAST EVENT SHOW 2012 Date: May 1-3, 2012 Venue: Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre Convention and Exhibition Centre

The Piscine exhibition brings a high-calibre range of swimming pool and spa products and services to specifiers and buyers in the Middle East. The event is dedicated to the swimming pool and spa industry in the Middle East and surrounding regions. Website: www.piscine-middleeast.com WORLD ECO CONSTRUCT Date: April 22-25, 2012 Venue: ADNEC Abu Dhabi

The Dubai Entertainment Amusement and Leisure Show (DEAL) is the Middle Easts annual focal point for all stakeholders in the amusement and related industries looking for a successful entry or greater growth in the regions markets. Website: www.themeparksdubai.com BALANCED SCORECARD FORUM DUBAI Date: April 21-26, 2012 Venue: The Address Hotel, Dubai Marina

World ecoConstruct is an international exhibition focusing on sustainable design and construction for the built environment. The event is accompanied by an unparalleled 12 days worth of global summits, workshops and training courses. Website: www.worldecoconstruct.com

The Middle East Event Show provides the perfect sourcing and networking platform for MICE, events and entertainment suppliers in the Middle East. Website: www.me-eventshow.com PALME MIDDLE EAST Date: May 1-3, 2012 Venue: Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre

A business forum that focuses on governance, risk management practices and successful balanced scorecard implementation in a project-focused organisation. Website: www.iirme.com/bsc/forum CITYSCAPE ABU DHABI Date: April 22-25, 2012 Venue: ADNEC Abu Dhabi

INVEST 2012 Date: April 27-29, 2012 Venue: Trade Fair Centre, Stuttgart, Germany

Cityscape Abu Dhabi is the only annual meeting point for governmental authorities, key 112 The Intelligent SME

Germanys largest financial trade fair features leading exhibitors, dialogue-oriented presentations from big industry players, the opportunity to network, a comprehensive and excellent framework programme and the intelligent incorporation of social media provide the platform for success. Website: http://cms.messestuttgart.de ARABIAN TRAVEL MARKET Date: April 30- May 3, 2012 Venue: Dubai International

Palme Middle East is the regions longest standing trade event for the professional sound, light, audio visual, music, entertainment and systems integration industries. Palme Middle East provides professionals to source new products and suppliers, network with industry peers, learn from industry experts and experience latest solutions offered in the industry. Website: www.palme-middleeast.com INTERNATIONAL PROPERTY SHOW DUBAI 2012 Date: May 1-3, 2012 Venue: Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre An annual event held in Dubai for

Events calendar

Important business events across the globe


the real estate and property industry, the event is accredited and approved by the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) to sell projects and properties to visitors and investors. Website: www. internationalpropertyshow.ae INTERNATIONAL JEWELLERY AND WATCH SHOW Date: May 1-5, 2012 Venue: ADNEC Abu Dhabi

Networking opportunities
Zayed Road, Dubai The event offers an unparalleled opportunity for franchisors to access entrepreneurs and investors to extend their footprint across the GCC. The show will comprise of exhibition, congress, awards, and an entrepreneurship summit. Website: www.franchiseuae.com ABU DHABI TELECOMS CEO SUMMIT Date: May 14, 2012 Venue: ADNEC Abu Dhabi regional and international banks, on acquiring and retaining profitable and low risk customers, risk and fraud strategies and to source the latest technology and solutions. Website:www.terrapinn.com DIGITAL ID WORLD MIDDLE EAST Date: May 15-16, 2012 Venue: ADNEC, Abu Dhabi

An exclusive and high-end jewellery and watch event. JWS is a unique exhibition with an extensive showcase of exquisite jewellery and timepieces from all over the world, and is aimed at the regions most affluent consumers. Website: www.jws.ae KEWE 2012 Date: May 6-8, 2012 Venue: Kuwait International Fairs Ground

Packed with a wide spectrum of cutting edge technologies, solutions and effective services on clean environment, water and renewable energy, Kuwait Environment, Water and Energy Conference 2012 is a platform for industry professionals, regulators and stakeholders. Website: www.kewe-expo.com HARWARE+TOOLS MIDDLE EAST Date: May 8-10, 2012 Venue: Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre Hardware+Tools Middle East is a solid networking platform for manufacturers, suppliers, buyers and trade professionals within the industry in the region. Website: www.hardwaretoolsme.com

PLASTIVISION ARABIA 2012 Date: May 14-17, 2012 Venue: Expo Centre, Sharjah

Abu Dhabi Telecoms CEO Summit is the only event in the region to feature as many leading CEOs from regional telecom operators. Speakers at the 2012 edition of the summit will talk about the future of telecoms in the MENA region, biggest challenges facing them, broadband and satellite communication role in the Arab Spring and more. Website: www.telecomsceosummit. com

A two-day senior-level conference featuring the regions most innovative users and biggest investors in ID management technologies and solutions. Website: www.terrapinn.com NFC WORLD MIDDLE EAST Date: May 15-16, 2012 Venue: ADNEC Abu Dhabi

Plastivision Arabia will aim to bring together raw material producers, primary processing and auxiliary equipment suppliers and traders, leveraging on the high growth potential of the UAE plastics industry. Website: www.plastivision.ae

NFC World Middle East is the regions leading dedicated Near Field Communication event. With NFC going from pilot to launch stage NFC World Middle East is the idea time and place to discuss the latest challenges and opportunities facing this highly-promising technology and hear from industry experts on how NFC technology will transform the way customers interact in the near future. Website: www.terrapinn.com THE HOTEL SHOW Date: May 15-17, 2012 Venue: Dubai World Trade Centre

CARD & PAYMENTS MIDDLE EAST Date: May 15-16, 2012 Venue: ADNEC, Abu Dhabi Now in its 13th year Cards & Payments Middle East brings together the world leaders in cards and payments strategy and technology. Find out best practice and forward thinking strategy from

FRANCHISE UAE 2012 Date: May 9-10, 2012 Venue: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sheikh

The Hotel Show is the only exhibition for the hospitality industry, providing a unique networking and sourcing platform within the region. From sophisticated linen, luxurious curtain fabrics to modern outdoor furniture and state of the art in-room entertainment technology - The Hotel Show Dubai provides a one stop for all hospitality needs. Website: www.thehotelshow.com The Intelligent SME 113

Column

Watch out for the wrong CEO


Utpal Bhattacharya cautions how hiring a wrong CEO can annihilate a successful business within a short span of time.

Summing up

n my over two decades of interactions with myriads of successful businessmen, I have at times come across a very strange phenomenon, which always bothers me, and that is the failure of an entrepreneur to judge the true merits of the first professional CEO that he appoints when he decides to either take it somewhat easy after a lifetime of hard labour, or, build another line of business. I have found this inability to judge the right person, for the job, by a successful businessman, never easy to digest. The funny part is that there are no professional solutions available off-the-shelf that can help an entrepreneur judge correctly, unless he is ready to listen to his advisors, or consultants. In a majority of instances, this does not happen, as a successful entrepreneur is generally a confident person, and wont even accept it was his fault when the damage is done, and one of his advisors dare tell to him, I told you so. Recently, I was sitting with a prospective client, a successful entrepreneur. They were planning an IPO in 2014. It was because of a reference that I was there, as this company, which I will refer to as Alfa (not its real name), very correctly, was seeking a communications

consultant to help them prepare for the IPO. In my typical primary and secondary research on Alfa, a telecom solutions provider, I had gathered some interesting facts about the company. They had done well in certain markets, but were struggling in others. They, certainly, needed help in below-the-line communications and relationship management in those markets that do not always offer jobs to vendors on merit. So, in other words, Alfa had taken a right decision in approaching communications consultants to build

their reputation in these markets. The entrepreneur introduced me to Alfas newly appointed CEO, who was to take the company to IPO. Apparently, this CEO was hired, as he had the right experience for the job, which was the IPO. However, to my consternation, as I sat through the brief, the CEO began talking about the various revenue lines that he was going to add to the telecom business of Alfa. He went as far as envisioning road projects for Alfa, and undertaking EPC contracts, and even consulting. Asked how he was going to do all these, he said that he would use third-party if required. His employer never said a word, and even seemed pleased, as his

newly appointed CEO was driving the business towards a large order book, by hook or crook: after all his mandate was doing a successful IPO of Alfa! My challenge was one of positioning Alfa. How would one re-position a telecom solution provider in some other vertical? And the biggest question was, even if one started positioning Alfa as more than a telecom solutions provider, would there be enough substance in the entity when it went for the public offering? Probably not, as they seemed on the verge of spreading out too thin, and taking on too much cost, eating on their reserves. I decided that this was another instance of hiring a wrong CEO for the job. The entrepreneur had the right idea of going IPO after having built a robust business over many, many years. But he failed to hire the right CEO to do the job. He was carried away by the promise of numbers; he failed to analyse why he was successful, and why his IPO would subscribe well, at premium, even if his balance sheet did not explode. As I walked out of our meeting, I knew that I would not be hired, as I had asked all the right questions, which irked them. But even if they asked me to, I would have refused, as I would not back a wrong plan, which was likely to bomb.

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