Atheer – Rima Al Sheikh
Hamad Ali Hamad Al Rashidi brought with him an idea from abroad, in the hope of establishing a project here in the Sultanate. The difficulties he faced however did not hold him back.
Al Rashidi, an ambitious young Omani man and architectural graduate from Sultan Qaboos University, is the managing director of Al Rashedi Sweets Trading Company, which owns the rights to the brand Jeff De Bruges.
Jeff De Bruges Chocolate was founded in France in 1869 as a factory, before being established as a brand in 1968. It also has branches in Dubai, Qatar, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Al Rashedi explains that the business came about in somewhat of an unplanned manner, having never had any particular goals to venture into the chocolate market in Oman.
He reveals that while on a trip to France in 2015 he merely stumbled across Jeff De Bruges as he was looking for a gift.
“During my visit to France in March 2015 I came across Jeff De Bruges. As I was prchasing my chocolate I ended up chatting to a staff member, who explained that the chocolate was made from natural materials, didn’t contain any artificial additives and was even suitable for diabetics, due to it being made from natural sugar.”
Al Rashidi goes on to say that after trying the chocolate, on what was his last day in France, he couldn’t stop thinking about it for the next six months. This ended up with him getting in touch with Jeff De Bruges, with his plan being to bring it to Oman. After consulting with his family Al Rashidi decided to communicate with the company, even though at the time he was still a university student.
Al Rashidi recounts the early steps as being smooth, however he suffered a set back at one point due to finances, or a lack of.
“I could not provide financial support for the project and although I was supposed to get help from the Raffad Fund, due to the economic problems at the time I was unable to do so. I looked for other sources of support, obtaining help from my father and brothers as well.”
Hamad said that the project has been a success so far, adding that there are ideas to expand it once the market becomes stable.
“I thank God that the project has been successful,” says Al Rashidi, who comes from a commercial background, which he says has given him an ambition that knows no limits. “This project is the beginning and more is coming, God willing.
Al Rashidi wraps up by saying “my advice to the Omani youth is not to hesitate to open a project that can benefit the economy, even if there are obstacles in the way.”
“Don’t just keep searching for a job, but also think of possible projects that you could start up, based on your talents or interests.”