“The most integral component of any business is to have cooperation between the government and businessmen”
Mr. Mohammed Mahtabur Rahman (Nasir) is the Chairman & Managing Director of Al Haramain Group of Companies. He has been ranked as a Commercially Important Person (CIP) by the Government of Bangladesh for three consecutive years from 2012 to 2014. Mahtab is the two time recipient of the Bangladesh Bank Award for garnering the highest remittance into the country in 2013 and 2014. He has and received an Honorary Doctoral Degree of Philosophy in World Peace and Morality in Business Administration from the International University of Morality.
Your family has been in the incense wood industry for generations. Could you elaborate upon the history of your company?
It started with my father’s annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Upon several excursions, he noticed the demand for incense wood and realized that it would grow quite abundantly in our home town, Sylhet. He then started selling it to incense stores during every trip he had taken. My father would sell to Al Quaerasi, who suggested that he start with a store and staff Sauda Arabians. We were a registered company by 1970 and my brother and I are proudly following in our father’s footsteps.
How do you maintain constant success?
Maintaining a successful business involves dedication and innovation. We started this business with incense wood and it has expanded to other lucrative lines of perfumes. There was a high demand for incense but with the times we noticed that this market had changed; it was integral for us to stay true to that change in order to keep the market that we have.
What are some of the advantages of having an international business?
The most integral component of any business is to have cooperation between the government and businessmen. We must learn to cooperate in order for the overall benefit of the economy. Business will relocate to areas that play to their advantage. This is why we have relocated to Dubai in 1981, where we have set up a large scale factory.
Given the exuberant prices of incense wood, how have you flourished into a profitable business?
In the Middle East, you will see numerous businesses that sell incense wood, however no one has thought of producing it in a large scale production. Additionally, the countries that produced incense wood such as Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam have reduced their production with the decrease in demand. We decided to build the first large scale factory in UAE for the production and processing of the wood. Our factory is 177,000 square feet with a staff of 3,000. This makes the production of incense wood cheaper to a certain scale.
What are some of the challenges you have faced as a Bangladeshi in a foreign business market?
Many countries must realize that in order for development of business, foreign investment is an integral component. Some assume that given the lower cost of production and manual labor, a Bangladeshi investor will try to conduct foreign business in order to reap the benefits of a large loan with no intention of repaying it. Furthermore, we are also demanding a separate EPZ (Export Processing Zone) for the NRBS where productions and benefits will be exclusive. We should have the liberty to send any proper documentation through the internet because this makes the transactions of any business much more efficient. This efficiency invites honest business for the overall benefit of the nation and the investors.
Your businesses are located outside of Bangladesh but you have done extensive work and CSR for the country. What propels you to do such acts?
The factory that we have opened has a staff that consist of 65% Bengali nationals. In addition, 60% of our complete staff of 5,000 are Bangladeshi. This is because I would like for the people of our nation to progress in different businesses throughout the world. We have a great deal of manpower and potential which is not being utilized to its fullest extent. If we contribute some of our success to our country, we can see it flourish. Sylhet is the starting point of my father’s company. I would like to give back to the area that has brought us so much success. The cancer hospital that we have created there will establish new job and better treatment which are two important factors for the growth of any area.
What is the current status of your company?
We currently export around 300 different products that range from perfumes to cosmetics products from two factories located in the UAE and France. We have set up business in over 100 countries with 550 distributors in Asia, Africa, Europe and the USA.