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Ali Said Abdullah Al Rashdi

Muaawana | 2016

For Ali Saeed Abdullah Al Rashdi, it was time for a change. He had previously worked for 10 years in the Royal Air Force of Oman, specifically as a maintenance supervisor. He then went on to join a family-run construction firm as a Marketing Manager. These previous roles gave him a solid foundation and expertise to venture into the world of entrepreneurship and start his own business.

Tapping into his good experience, Ali decided to setup his own maintenance company “Muaawana”. The company focuses on providing a complete range of building maintenance services including plumbing, electricity, carpentry, general maintenance and installation of air conditioners, all using mobile teams of technicians. The philosophy of “Muaawana” is to give clients comprehensive maintenance solutions on a periodical schedule in order to keep buildings in top shape. These services are delivered on a regular or on-demand basis according to the needs of the building owner. All maintenance charges are first agreed between “Muaawana” and the building owner, and parts or materials that are replaced during maintenance process are charged at an agreed rate. “Muaawana” also provides a rapid response service on-demand which is available 7/24 for any unexpected problems within the building.

Speaking about the concept of “Muaawana”, Ali noted: “My previous work in the Royal Air Force of Oman equipped me with great experience in this field, and my second job in the construction sector deepened that experience. Working closely with property owners and the local community helped me understand the potential market for a company that could provide on-demand call-outs and comprehensive regular maintenance for houses and larger properties both for individuals and corporates. The inception of the idea “Muaawana” started here.”

“Muaawana” started with a team of 3 individuals, who provided services to a limited number of clients, but then the workload developed with the increasing marketing efforts, resulting in an expanded workforce of 3 teams with a total of 13 employees. Ali noted: “We started using social media as a key part of our marketing strategy, which allows us to reach a wider base of potential customers. We also distributed leaflets to introduce our services to the market, which has helped us to gain more corporate clients who have large property portfolios which require on-going maintenance. We also secured good maintenance contracts with several entities within the public and private sectors, in addition to some individuals who have tried our services and decided to sign with us for long-term contracts, and that’s how we were able to develop and grow our business.”

The specialised maintenance business, which was at first a dream for Ali Al Rashdi rapidly expanded in size, and with this growth he felt that he needed to seek out expert guidance and financial support to expand and develop the business in an organised manner. He noted: “I applied for a loan from some funding organisations, but they rejected my application due to the perceived small size of the maintenance market in the Sultanate. However, I didn’t give up or feel weak, and I decide to look for other organisations that could provide me with the support I needed.”

He noted: “One day, I was listening to a radio programme which was broadcasting live coverage an event held at Sultan Qaboos University. They were discussing the challenges facing small and medium enterprises in the Sultanate, and that’s when I first heard about Zubair SEC. The programme interviewed one of the consultants from the Centre, who spoke of the various services offered to small enterprises and entrepreneurs in Oman. This type of support was just what I was looking for, so I went immediately to where the event was held at the university, meeting with the Zubair SEC team at the event. I spoke with them about my desire of joining the Center, and from here was the start of my promising journey with Zubair SEC when I registered as a member.”

Ali Al Rashdi understood that Zubair SEC could offer many benefits for his fledgling business. He was quickly introduced to various advisors at the Centre, each of whom provided expert guidance, coaching and business planning advice. They facilitated his participation in relevant exhibitions and helped him in applying to Al Raffd fund for a loan to expand his business. For the loan request, Ali needed to outline a clear vision and business plan for “Muaawana” together with a feasibility study based on projected revenues and expenditures. Zubair SEC team worked closely with Ali to finalise the funding application, and helped him to highlight the potential growth opportunities in the market, which assured the economic viability for business.”

Expressing his gratitude towards Zubair SEC, Al Rashdi noted: “The team of advisors at the Centre gave me so much support, with expert consultations, advice and mentorship, all of which really contributed to the success of “Muaawana” in a short period of time. They also helped me formulate my marketing strategy which has led the business to profitability in less than 4 months. They were also invaluable in opening new doors of opportunity for me by facilitating contact with new clients, including long-term contracts with companies within The Zubair Corporation.”

“I participated in many training workshops by Zubair SEC on effective marketing and the different methods of marketing through social media. With the Centre’s support, we participated in small enterprises exhibitions which greatly helped to promote the business, and I also won’t forget the great media coverage which was generated by the centre, which helped us to reach a larger number of institutions and individuals. Particularly, I am deeply grateful to be chosen as one of the ten winners of the 2016 Direct Support Programme, which helped us significantly in the development of our business. The kind support from everyone at Zubair SEC continues to this day!” Ali concluded.

A proudly Omani owned and operated business, “Muaawana” has moved to a new level of progress today. However, Ali Al Rashdi has his eye firmly set on the future, and aims for “Muaawana” to be the most successful maintenance services firm operating in Oman in the years ahead.