Meet Muath Al Mashaikh, advising manufacturing and industrial SMEs

Meet Muath Al Mashaikh, advising manufacturing and industrial SMEs 

By: Abu Dhabi SME Hub
Opportunities

The Access to Experts initiative offers you professional, free-of-charge guidance and support on doing business in Abu Dhabi.

Meet Muath Al Mashaikh, Senior Counselor at Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.

A member of the Access to Experts initiative, Muath answers the Hub's Q&A so you can get to know him better. 

 

A management professional with 19+ years of experience, Muath has an exceptional track record in spearheading turnkey business solutions for conducting feasibility studies, market research, performance management, counselling, training and business evaluation across key business hubs in UAE, in addition to managing and supporting innovative SMEs.

Muath has industrial knowledge in the GCC and particularly in the UAE.

Throughout his career, Muath has supervised and conducted market research and feasibility studies for more than 300 projects in different sectors, to help and guide entrepreneurs in selecting the right opportunity for them. He has also evaluated and supervised more than 250 projects in different sectors: industry and manufacturing, F&B, services, retail, ICT and construction.
 

Introduce yourself and summarize your role in one sentence. 

Hello, I’m Muath Al Mashaikh, industrial consultant at the Khalifa Fund, and my main role is to guide and support entrepreneurs to establish their projects from the idea stage to a successful business, mainly in the industrial sector.

What are two truths and one myth about your sector?

Myth: The UAE will become an industrial country in the MENA region, reducing its dependence on oil and gas, while making it the industrial hub in the region.

Two Truths:

  • The UAE government has allocated more than AED 10 billion to support the industrial sector.
  • The UAE has created the 10x10 programme (as part of the Projects of the 50) to develop country exports, targeting 10 key markets and aiming to achieve an annual increase in exports of more than 10%.

Who would benefit most from your expertise?

As an Industrial expert who is engaged in many industrial projects, often from inception and ultimately to operation in many industrial sectors, I have been able to accrue a vast breadth of knowledge that can be used to support entrepreneurs who are planning to establish their own industrial venture, or even those that are having issues in running their business by providing coaching and guidance to reduce their risk of failure and increase their likelihood of success.

This includes but is not limited to:

  • Reviewing business plans and evaluating projects, especially in the industrial sector;
  • Providing project assessments & creating market reports for certain industries;
  • Creating awareness about successful businesses;
  • Managing and supervising project implementation; 
  • Conducting counselling sessions.

Tell us about your experience working with an entrepreneur. 

During my experience as an industrial consultant, many entrepreneurs approached me for advice and support in order to launch a successful project. 

One such example where my support led to a successful venture involves an entrepreneur who wanted to establish an industrial project in the field of protective footwear.

This is how we helped him: 

I offered the entrepreneur business plan guidance, helped with the negotiations with machinery suppliers, and advised him on efficient operations, production, target markets, and cost reduction. Finally, I also helped him qualify for and attend several exhibitions nationally and internationally.

As a result of this mentorship and collaboration, the entrepreneur was able to get his factory up and running, and ultimately secured signed contracts exceeding AED 100 million, began exporting to Egypt and Europe, and appointed several agents in many countries.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the entrepreneur’s factory struggled to maintain its operations, so we provided him with many counselling sessions on how to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on his business, by:

  • Searching for alternative suppliers and trying to accelerate the certifications and approvals from the related authorities. We were able to secure a new supplier based in Pakistan, and within 3 months, began importing from them;
  • Controlling and minimizing his costs and expenses;
  • Protecting his employees and providing paid leaves, unpaid leaves, and reducing salaries based on UAE regulations and approvals from employees;
  • Managing cash flow and maintaining cash reserves;
  • Abiding by all health precautions both in the workplace and within labour accommodations;
  • Forming a crisis team to think of solutions and action plans to implement, while setting KPI’s for him and his main team and then acting on them immediately;
  • Providing him with some reports on how to overcome the crisis.

Another example:

An entrepreneur who owns a factory that produces food products reached out to us. 

We supported him by: 

  • Finding plastic bottle suppliers locally instead of importing from China, which reduced his company’s lead time and maintained his inventory levels;
  • Conducting a cost analysis on each product produced at the factory to determine the cost percentage from the selling price and to benchmark according to international standards to identify the most profitable items;
  • Identifying fast-moving items and eliminating the slowest-moving and more costly products;
  • Guiding and helping in re-branding the business, changing its persona and logo, and creating new marketing strategies accordingly;
  • Supporting in setting new KPIs for employees.

Impact on this business following our support: Sales increased by 40% and costs were reduced by 5%.

What are some common challenges you've noticed entrepreneurs face, and why is it important for them to seek mentorship on these topics? 

A common challenge entrepreneurs face before establishing their business is making decisions based on poor feasibility studies, which leads to inevitable business failure even before commencing operations. 

  • Example: Underestimating a business project’s costs which leads to the inability to see said project through. 
  • Advice: Always try to conduct a professional feasibility study with support from a qualified consultant before you commit to a venture.

Another common challenge I’ve witnessed entrepreneurs face after establishing their business is struggling to maintain a positive cash flow. 

  • Example: A business purchases raw material with cash, but sells the end product with credit, creating a deficiency in cash flow. 
  • Advice: Manage your account receivables and account payables, secure bank facilities and manage your expectations based on your cash ability. 

What are some of the best pieces of professional advice that you’ve ever received, and what is some advice you would share with your younger self?

It is important to be open-minded and willing to listen and admit that you are facing a problem. This is half of the solution.

My advice:

  • Have a mentor to guide you and advise you;
  • Accept criticism and always be open to change.

Building a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint.

My advice: 

  • Have patience and commitment, and accept your failures with grace to be able to get up again and continue doing what you do for another day.

Raed is part of our Access to Experts initiative, providing mentorship and support to prospective and existing entrepreneurs looking to grow in Abu Dhabi. Connect with him and other industry thought leaders here.

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