Family Business in MENA region
They Came, they Saw, and then they Conquered!
Family Business is a culture that represents and aims more than a business unit and profit earning respectively. A culture that a) depicts the family’s (running the business) beliefs, ideas and thought process nearly influenced by the place, society, and nation the business runs in and b) aims at delivering the best to its customers, as a family business understands well the family expectations and needs to the fullest. Family businesses usually start with a highly motivated individual, who starts a venture from scratch, eventually builds a giant conglomerate business out of it and finally hands over the legacy to the next generation in his own family. Many family firms in the MENA region are the perfect examples to it.
Family Business has been in existence from a long time now, and it is observed that the MENA region is experiencing massive growth due to the flourishing family businesses in the region. This is helping the economy to boost up and rise many folds. Nearly 60% of the contribution made in the GDP in the MENA region is due to the family businesses running there (PWC, 2016).
Before going any further let us have a look at some of the most prominent family ventures in various parts of the Middle East.
- Saudi Arabia - Al Rajhi Group, Saudi Binladin Group (SBG), Olayan Group
- United Arab Emirates - Al Futtaim Group, Juma Al Majid Group, Al Tayer Group, Al Ghurair Group, Al Habtoor Group, Al Rostamani Group
- Kuwait - Kharafi Group, Alghanim Industries, Alshaya Group
- Bahrain - Fakhro Group, Kanoo Group
- Oman – Zawawi Group, Bahwans Group, Zubair Group
For the above-mentioned family firms the statement ‘What runs in the family, stays in the family’ fits perfectly well, be it profit, experience, nurturing talents of upcoming generations or legacy of the Family business itself. From money to information, from talent to any kind of innovation all stays in the family. But before all this are the two important questions which concern a) the initial idea of starting a family firm and b) things that let the family firms remain a success for long.
The idea that motivates an individual to start a family business:
Well for the beginners, Money, which could be a lot of dinars, rupees, dollars, pounds, you name it. It goes all in the bag. Apart from that are the various benefits of running the family show.
- First of all, comes loyalty more by default and less as an ethical duty from all the members carrying the business. It is very rare that a family member would give up a well-established family firm for some perks and packages given by any other rival company. Family members take important positions of board members, stockholders, advisers, and valuable employees. Something that most of them would not care to exchange.
- Then comes working flexibility. Family firms are very lenient and even forgiving on work schedules, work-related decisions, judgments, and mistakes, which turn out to be pivot characteristics for a blooming career of an entrepreneur.
Reasons why family businesses continue to be successful:
Elder Generation: The older generation in business have immense experience about the business which has helped them create goodwill for the same over the years. This reputation of the business is such that with due course of time not only the name of the business but also people leading it are seen no less than a complete brand. For people as customers, it gets easier to rely on such brands without giving a second thought.
Younger Generation: The new generation is full of brilliant ideas and excellent thoughts backed by good professional knowledge which they are all set to demonstrate practically. Every business needs the newness and the future strategies, technologies, and trends to be exercised in the organization to stay in the race and this is fueled by the younger generation of the family business.
Combining the two: Family business is called such due to the family involved in running the business, which has different genders, members from different age group and even different generations working with a single vision, mission, and objective. Therefore a family business is more of an emotional investment which helps them dream big but dream one. MENA region is experiencing such a combination of experience and expertise, and knowledge and ideas by all the generations of the family well governed by the family hierarchy which is leading to blooming growth in family businesses.
Undoubtedly there are many challenges faced by family businesses in this course of action which create great competition and conflicts. As time passes family businesses undergo various stages of encountering and overpowering these challenges namely: Entrepreneurship stage, Growth stage, Governance stage, and Maturity stage, which we will explore in the following sections.
I am working as a Teaching and Research Assistant, and have contributed to blog articles related to education, innovation, entrepreneurship and crowdfunding for Astrolabs which is partnered with Google in Dubai. I can be contacted at Nipun.email@example.com.