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Gulf Bank’s ‘Let’s Talk Business’ podcast interviews top events management firm

KUWAIT: Tareq Al-Saleh interviews Ahmed Al-Majed during Gulf Bank’s second episode of ‘Let’s Talk Business’ podcast.

KUWAIT: Gulf Bank aired the second episode of its “Let’s Talk Business” podcast with Ahmed Al-Majed, General Manager at the Suffix company for sports events management. The program, hosted by Tareq Al-Saleh, Deputy General Manager of the Economic Research Unit at Gulf Bank, presents entrepreneurial stories within a simplified economic framework, targeting budding entrepreneurs who are considering starting businesses of their own. The bank’s new podcast is part of its overarching strategy of fostering economic and community sustainability in Kuwait.

 

Following our passions

Ahmed Al-Majed started his talk about the beginning of his work in the sports equipment sector, an industry that he loved but was not as popular in Kuwait at the time-at least, not popular enough to sustain a business. He said, “I learned then that a business should not be built on personal passion alone. You may be passionate about something, but the market may not be ready for it. That is what happened to me when I founded my first local sports products store in 2004.”

 

Competition

When asked about competition in the sector, Al-Majed touched on his company’s philosophy and their unique view of business in the sports event management sector, saying: “At Suffix, we see ourselves as being complementary to the sector. We work with all sectors in the country. We do not necessarily view ourselves as being anyone’s competitors, rather we are an added support system for many people and entities. The market is very large, and our mission is much greater, which is why we are pleased with any effort that succeeds in reaching a new category of customers, and promoting a culture of sports and health.”

 

Focusing on the customer experience

The Suffix company is responsible for organizing the annual “Gulf Bank 642 Marathon” and has been successfully putting on the event for over seven years. With the marathon reaching bigger and better heights every year, Gulf Bank recently announced the extension of their strategic partnership with Suffix for another three years. Al-Majed spoke about the most important thing that distinguishes the marathon from other events, highlighting the unique and enjoyable experience that Gulf Bank creates for all participants, saying: “The marathon is for everyone, whether you are a sports enthusiast or just participating for a day, so it is important for this marathon to always be more than just a race. Hence, we work to create a beautiful experience for every participant, despite its logistical difficulty. We make sure that the contestants pass through the various landmarks of Kuwait, starting with Souq Sharq, Kuwait Towers, and Souk Al-Mubarakiya, because we want to add a sense of excitement, especially for those who are not interested in, or do not like, sports. In that way, we hope to urge everyone to practice healthy habits like walking and running.”

 

Patience paves the way to success

During the interview, Al-Majed explained the necessity of continuous work and planning, and not expecting impressive success from the first attempt. Al-Majed continued: “When we started the Gulf Bank 642 Marathon series in its first year, we had 1,400 people, but that was like getting a million participants to us, and we were very happy with that number. After only three years, the number of participants reached 10,000, which placed the ‘Gulf Bank 642 Marathon’ on the list of the largest marathons in the world. We have also recently been awarded a Bronze Ranking by World Athletics, an honor that we received among 128 marathons around the world.”

Working during the pandemic

The lockdown and the long curfews in Kuwait were some of the big challenges that the Suffix company faced, and successfully overcame using technology. Al-Majed said: “Today, technology has become an essential element in every company, whether it is a digital company or not. The use of technology enables us to continue working and reduce costs, in addition to increasing the ability to innovate. Within a few short years, we have gradually transformed into the digital company we see today, and although our main activity is managing sports events, today technology has become the heart of our work. During the pandemic, our sector was one of the most affected. We took the opportunity to prove our ability to work and manage events digitally and remotely, launching various services within the first days of the closure and the curfew. We found that it resonated very well with the customers, whose loyalty to us significantly increased during this period.”

 

Risk management

When asked about the financial aspect of the business, Al-Majed said that when the company was launched, the reliance was very high on the management of sports events as a source of income, while the management of sports facilities constituted only 6 percent of the company’s size. According to Al-Majed, this financial model constituted a great risk to the company’s feasibility. The partners’ vision was to focus on developing the sports facilities management division to constitute 60 percent of the company’s size. In that way, the company could ensure the sustainability of income throughout the year, and in different seasons.

 

Financing

On financing, A-Majed said: “We still see Suffix as a small company, with very large potential for growth, without the need for investors to enter the business model at this time. We have many goals that we are seeking now, and we prefer to reach them without any pitfalls or pressures. Entering financial investment helps you accelerate growth but it may not help you speed up success. So, as my partner Ahmed Al Hezami always says, we choose to enjoy the journey. We may look into getting investors when we reach the goals we have set for the next five years.”

“Let’s Talk Business” is Gulf Bank’s newest podcast, created in collaboration with Belmokhba, a local creative content creation and production house. Episodes air on Gulf Bank’s digital and social media channels.

Gulf Bank’s vision is to be the leading Kuwaiti Bank of the Future. The Bank is constantly engaging and empowering its employees as part of an inclusive and diversified workplace in recognition of every employee’s role in delivering customer excellence and serving the community at large. With its extensive network of branches and innovative digital services, Gulf Bank is able to give its customers the choice of how and where to conduct their banking transactions, all while ensuring a simple and seamless banking experience.

Gulf Bank is committed to maintaining a robust sustainability program at the community, economic, and environmental levels through sustainability initiatives that are strategically selected to benefit both the country and the Bank. Gulf Bank supports Kuwait Vision 2035 “New Kuwait” and works with the different relevant parties to achieve it. For more information on Gulf Bank’s various initiatives and activities, customers can visit one of Gulf Bank’s branches or log on to Gulf Bank’s Online/Mobile Banking services. Customers can also direct their queries via WhatsApp on 1805805 for round-the-clock assistance from Gulf Bank representatives, or call the Customer Contact Center on the same number.

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