Times of Oman

Rel­e­vant ex­pe­ri­ence cru­cial for suc­cess of busi­ness, says Omani en­tre­pre­neur

- EL­HAM POURMOHAMM­ADI Sup­port for SMEs Business · Entrepreneurship · Muscat · Oman · Dubai · Cairo · Kuwait · Chad · Africa · Palace Hotel · InterContinental Hotels · Barka · Al-Ghubra · Telecommunications Regulatory Authority · German University of Technology in Oman

MUSCAT: A rel­e­vant ed­u­ca­tional and pro­fes­sional back­ground is cru­cial for the suc­cess of a busi­ness and should be taken into ac­count by fund­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions, says an Omani en­tre­pre­neur.

There are some peo­ple who es­tab­lish a busi­ness with­out hav­ing any rel­e­vant back­ground and there is a high prob­a­bil­ity that they will not suc­ceed in the mar­ket, said Ben Bella Al Naa­mani, founder of Ocean & Earth cater­ing.

“When you start a busi­ness, you should not work ‘for’ the busi­ness. You should work ‘on’ the busi­ness. It means you should get in­volved in all as­pects of it. If you do not have any back­ground, you will not be able to do so,” Al Naa­mani told Times of Oman.

He be­lieves that fund­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions in Oman should sup­port start-up projects based on the ‘ex­pe­ri­ence’ of the in­di­vid­u­als and not only their ‘in­ter­ests’, and their ca­pa­bil­i­ties should be as­sessed through var­i­ous tests.

Hav­ing a strong back­ground has been the key to the suc­cess of Ocean & Earth cater­ing, founded in 2009 by Al Naa­mani, a hote­lier with around 27 years of ex­pe­ri­ence.

Be­fore set­ting up his own busi­ness, he had worked at Al Bus­tan Palace Ho­tel, In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Ho­tel Muscat, In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Dubai, Grand Hy­att Muscat, Grand Hy­att Cairo, Park Hy­att Ho­tel Dubai, Merid­ian Ho­tel Kuwait and Kempin­ski Ho­tel in Chad, Africa.

“I had been work­ing in Chad for over a year and came back to Oman af­ter Gonu. When the time came for me to re­turn to Chad, I thought to my­self that it would be a good idea to es­tab­lish my own busi­ness in Oman,” Al Naa­mani said.

First ini­tia­tive

His first ini­tia­tive was to open a live seafood res­tau­rant, where live fish would be kept and cooked for cus­tomers based on their choice.

“How­ever, courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and lis­ten. I re­alised that this kind of busi­ness is very ex­pen­sive be­cause of the costs and the mas­sive space that it re­quires,” he said

Al Naa­mani then de­cided to open a small or­di­nary res­tau­rant and the idea of chang­ing it to a cater­ing com­pany came to his mind when he thought that ‘if peo­ple do not come to us, we should go to them.’

“It was be­ing run by two peo­ple at the start of the busi­ness, and now, we have 18 staff, in­clud­ing Oma­nis,” he said.

Sharakah’s sup­port

When Al Naa­mani felt the need for more cap­i­tal to main­tain his busi­ness, he ap­proached the Fund for De­vel­op­ment of Youth Projects (Sharakah), which pro­vided 49 per cent of the re­quired in­vest­ment. In ad­di­tion to of­fer­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port, Sharakah helped en­hance his au­dit­ing and man­age­ment skills.

Al Naa­mani man­aged to buy back all the shares owned by Sharakah in a record two years and so, sooner than the spec­i­fied pe­riod of three years.

New lo­ca­tion

Ocean & Earth cater­ing had es­tab­lished its pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity in Barka and is now shift­ing to a new lo­ca­tion in Al Ghubra North to en­hance its ac­ces­si­bil­ity to clients.

“Our clients in­clude Oman’s Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity (TRA) and the Ger­man Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy in Oman (GUtech). We are also pro­vid­ing our ser­vices to those work­ing on the new air­port pro­ject,” Al Naa­mani said.

Ex­pan­sion plans

Ocean & Earth cater­ing also plans to open a bak­ery, and the work on the pro­ject is ex­pected to be­gin by March 2016. While ex­pand­ing the busi­ness in Oman, Al Naa­mani is con­sid­er­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties abroad, es­pe­cially in East Africa.

The en­tre­pre­neur be­lieves that there is still room for ‘qual­ity’ cater­ing busi­nesses in Oman, es­tab­lished by those who have a solid back­ground in this field. In ad­di­tion, Al Naa­mani said that the gov­ern­ment has done a lot in or­der to sup­port small and medium en­ter­prises (SMEs) and busi­ness own­ers should them­selves prove that they are ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing qual­ity ser­vices.

“If you prove your­self, I do not think that any­body can stop you. You should not wait for large com­pa­nies to come and award you con­tracts. You should ap­proach them,” he added.

Lo­cal com­mu­nity

He also noted that Ocean & Earth cater­ing be­lieves in con­tribut­ing to the lo­cal com­mu­nity and is us­ing lo­cal prod­ucts and ser­vices wher­ever pos­si­ble.

In his mes­sage to those who are in­ter­ested in set­ting up their busi­nesses, Al Naa­mani said, “As we all know if there is no strug­gle, there is no progress. Truth builds trust. Suc­cess in busi­ness re­quires train­ing and dis­ci­pline and hard work. If you are not fright­ened by these things, the op­por­tu­ni­ties are just as great to­day as they ever were.”

“We are very much open to share with you new ideas. So if any young Omani plans to open a food busi­ness, he or she can con­tact me any­time for con­sul­ta­tion at­info@ caterin­goe.com,” he said.

 ??  ?? UP­BEAT: Ben Bella Al Naa­mani, founder of Ocean & Earth
UP­BEAT: Ben Bella Al Naa­mani, founder of Ocean & Earth
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