Canadian solution for Arab companies
Amanah Tech Inc. grew out of Nezar Freeny’s
Freeny, 33, immigrated to
He worked for the university and the private sector, but it wasn’t too long before Freeny’s family genetics got the best of him.
“Since I was in grade one, I used to help my dad run his…furniture manufacturing business,” says Freeny. “When I was approximately 13, I was running the business in his absence.”
While dot-com companies crashed, burned and evaporated, Freeny managed to find a niche market with virtually no competitors.
Arab companies were getting their web hosting primarily from providers in the
Freeny jumped at the opportunity to offer comparable quality and price with service in Arabic, so customers “don’t have to worry about feeling different.”
An understanding of Arab culture proved invaluable for Freeny. For instance, Arabs like dealing directly with the CEO of a company instead of employees. As well, older Arab executives don’t take young people seriously, something Freeny overcame by being well-presented, learning history, and building good rapport with multiple contacts at large companies.
Geopolitics played a role too.
“They found it the right opportunity, saying that we are
In 2002, the company signed a $1 million, three-year deal with Saudi internet company Dar Alasr.
At the signing ceremony in
“We never thought we would be able to find a Canadian IT company who provides 24/7 support in Arabic," Alfarhan was quoted as saying in the Khaleej Times. "Partnering with Amanah Tech allows us to provide high-end technology that our clients are looking for in Arabic.”
Amanah – Arabic for “trust” – has established itself in web hosting and is now moving forward with “Prime Digital Solutions,” solving problems for businesses and individuals through innovative solutions.
For instance, the company recently made waves in the Arab media market by developing software that automatically translates the Reuters news ticker feed into Arabic for DubaiTV, sparking interest from other Arab TV networks as well, according to Freeny.
The company has also designed a cell phone stock tracker that sends stock price fluctuation alerts directly to investors’ cell phones.
Amanah Tech, now with seven employees and $5 million in annual sales with about 50 per cent of it profit, relied heavily on federal government grants in the beginning, but the company is now seen as a Canadian success story, with a visible presence at trade shows in the Arabian Gulf.
Sales are up by 50 per cent from the previous year.
The company outgrew
So what is Freeny’s secret to success?
“Customer satisfaction,” he says after a pause, later adding patience and no advertising to the mix.
That means becoming a doctor for businesses and keeping small clients who pay as little as $10 a month for web hosting along with some of the wealthiest businesses in the
“You will never see someone walking to a doctor saying, ‘Today, I am feeling very well. What should I do?’” he says. “They will be crying…‘this is hurting me and I need something, how can you help me?’
“If you are not addressing them, they will go somewhere else. So it’s very important to be patient and to be a good listener.”
Freeny doesn’t believe in advertising and thus his advertising budget is zero. The savings are used for improving quality and retaining big clients with perks, such as flying big customers to
Hatem Al-Sibai, chief information officer at one of Amanah’s larger customers, UAE’s Al Ghurair Group, is “quite satisfied” with the company and plans to increase business with Amanah next year.
“They have managed to meet or exceed or service level requirements,” Sibai wrote in an e-mail. “This is possible because (Amanah) has a hi-tech infra-structure, multiple redundant connectivity to the backbone of the Internet and state of the art security,” adding that the company has been “eager to listen…and understand special requirements and needs.”
But the attention given to larger customers hasn’t left smaller ones disappointed.
Amanah Tech has provided web hosting to
Freeny works towards his dream of heading a multi-billion dollar publicly traded corporation with a simple philosophy.
“There is a philosophy in business, ‘build it and they will come’. My philosophy is, ‘build it as they come.’”