AB Middle East Trading LLC (MAB), Mansoor Bastaki's company, is a Dubai-based entity that manages and operates multiple areas such as retail-cafe outlets, Horeca and corporate sales, local distribution as well as regional re-export to the Middle East and India. Mastihashop, a part of MAB, is his current hallmark brand with a wide range of products. MAB is the master franchisee of the trademark and brand Mastihashop for at least the next 10 years, meaning that Bastaki has exclusive distribution and franchise rights for the region.
"Under Mastihashop there are several sub brands. Mastihacafe is the fresh items served at Mastihashop like coffee, shakes, ice cream, and baklava. CulturaMediterra is the confectionary items like chocolates, halva, delights, baklava, and handmade candy. Mastihamarket is the savory and sweets high-end specialty packed products like jams, marmalades, pastes, mastic water for drinking and for culinary use, mastic oil, olive oil, and much more. Mastihagift is the gift offerings that include hampers, gift baskets, and gift boxes. Mastihatherapy and Mastihacare is the cosmetics and skincare collection including face cream, hand cream, soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, and other products," explains Bastaki.
To market Mastihashop products, the MAB Founder opted for a mix of Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business- to-Consumer (B2C) strategies. "For the B2B, we just participated in SIAL Paris, and we will be participating in Gulfood 2015 in Dubai with stands to be able to meet potential buyers from UAE and the wider region. As far as my B2C plan, we will go heavily on social media to promote the retail outlets. We'll also participate in multiple social events in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah." The next step for Bastaki on his enterprise route is expansion- he's now looking at maturing the existing business of MAB and Mastihashop in the UAE, across the Middle East, and even India, adding that he is at present trying to connect with potential sub-franchisees as well as sub-distributors.
Prior to Mastihashop and MAB, Bastaki says that he proudly served the Dubai Government, attending to European Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) sales from 2005 to 2013. As an Emirati entrepreneur, he sought out Tejar Dubai for assistance in formulating his financial planning. Eschewing the partnership route, instead Bastaki took on smaller investors, explaining that he preferred to keep external investment in the project to a minimum. "My idea is to minimize the investors at MAB, and hence I have decide to go more or less solo. I have other investors on board, but they own less than 15% share of the total capital of the company. Since I am the master franchisee of Mastihashop, I have devised a plan to create tie-ups and partnership by franchising out the retail concept to other genuine operators in UAE and the GCC."
Another strategic area that Bastaki has considered carefully is diversifying his portfolio to ensure different revenue streams, and he also relates this back to his support of Emiratization: "MAB is an investor in an Emirati bakeshop specialized in Khameer, an Emirati bread. The brand is called Khameer & Dough- scheduled to open in December in Dubai. I, together with the investors in this new concept, are planning to have 10 outlets within the next two to three years in the UAE and the GCC." The entrepreneur also mentions that H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's encouragement of entrepreneurship is integral to the UAE's SME space: "I believe the initiative has successfully impacted the development of UAE nationals throughout all levels and for both genders. What makes me happy is to see private companies so excited to follow this initiative, which I believe is now becoming a win-win for both the employee and the employer."
'Trep Talk Q+A
What is your current time commitment like to MAB Middle East?
I'm the Director/General Manager of the company, and hence my commitment is full-time dedicated to the company. We do have sales team, delivery crew, import/re-export executive, operations team, and retail team. On top of the pyramid is where I sit looking after the overall operations of the company.
How does MAB fit emiratization into its corporate culture?
I believe the approach or initiative of Emiratization is very important for UAE's future as it will create a good Emirati workforce base for the country. UAE nationals should take advantage of these excellent government initiatives and try to climb the ladder in their career by putting full attention and effort at their jobs! MAB is 100% owned by Emiratis and is managed full time by an Emirati, and I believe this is excellent for a startup. I have plans to recruit UAE Nationals for our sales force in the short-run once the company grows! In my opinion, the biggest challenge facing Emirati entrepreneurs is that since Dubai and the UAE are very cosmopolitan, this leads to having different nationalities and different company sizes based here. This could be the biggest challenge for Emirati young businesspeople- in other words, the international, mature traders can be more experienced in doing business if we compare them with young Emirati entrepreneurs.
What was the most difficult part of your execution of MAB?
Everything related to license issuance from DED, food registrations at Dubai Municipality Food Control, Chamber of Commerce membership issuance, customs work, Dubai Trade and other authorities that I dealt with was very smooth, and the personnel were very professional and supportive. In my previous govern- ment post, I promoted these services to foreign investment planning to come to Dubai, but I never experienced those services personally. After the establishment of MAB, I truly understand why Dubai has become the number one hub for trade and investment in the region. Going back to your question, the hardest part I would say was choosing locations for the retail outlets where I had to minimize rent cost, but be in prime neighborhoods and locations.
What process did you go through with Tejar Dubai?
I had to present my concept to Tejar Dubai's board members covering the concept, marketing plans, costs and overhead, revenue forecast, as well as startup costs! They have a very boutique-style type of service and support, taking care of each candidate or member carefully without any delays. The tangible support I got from Tejar Dubai was financial consultancy, marketing plan guidance, business matching, and many other areas. In my case it wasn't only for my company growth, but growth on personal level as well. Since Tejar Dubai is under the umbrella of Dubai Chamber of Commerce, my ambition in the future is to be a part of Dubai Chamber or the Tejar Dubai board to assist new Emirati young entrepreneurs.
Tejar Dubai is a development program committed to nurturing potential UAE nationals into becoming entrepreneurs. Launched last year under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, the program identifies, develops, and mentors promising UAE nationals to expedite the growth of an embryonic business idea and advance it to the point of being ready for immediate implementation.