Demographic pressures mean that the Egyptian labor market is increasingly unable to cope with the number of new job seekers. The size of the youth population (aged 15 to 29) has increased from 13.3 million in 1988 to 17.4 million in 1998 and 22.2 million in 2006. The labour market is threatening to reach boiling point, and is sorely in need of labour-intensive entrepreneurial ventures.
Founded by Eng. Taher Maamoun and Eng. Maged Maher in 2012, Five Builders for Construction engages in labour-intensive turnkey construction projects that promise to provide employment at scale. The entrepreneurs are clear on their vision to grow their business in quality and scope, with staff numbers having gone up exponentially from 54 to 473 over the tenure of GroFin’s investment.
Ramez Samuel, PR & Communications Officer at GroFin MENA, spoke to founder Maged Maher to find out the motivation behind starting this labour-intensive enterprise, and what are the entrepreneurs’ plans for the future.
I noticed your slogan “Five Builders, the Pyramids of Tomorrow.” It’s quite catchy.
Indeed, it is. The slogan was created by GroFin after we were selected as the company of the month about a year ago. We then decided to adopt the slogan on all of our marketing materials.
When did Five Builders start?
I’ve been in business with Eng. Taher Maamoun since 1999; we’ve partnered over more than one company in the past before we decided to start Five Builders. When we founded Five Builders in 2012, we roped in 2 young partners – Eng. Ahmed Ramzy and Eng. Mohamed Ragheb – to bring to the table a mix of industry experience and youthful ideas. Not only half the partners but also the majority of our employees are young. We believe in the power of the youth and the ideas that they can bring to the company.
What was the motivation behind starting the company?
Eng. Taher and I share the same vision. If we have the capability to run a company, execute projects on the ground and meet deadlines, social responsibility is always on our mind. So, as the company continues to grow, we hire more people, sustain more jobs and support more livelihoods, thus enjoying both higher financial returns and undertaking greater social responsibility.
What does the company do?
We work in the specialised construction and contracting sector. We do not enter into regular construction work such as building apartments and other residential projects but only undertake projects that utilise our know-how and our competitive edge for design. These contracts are very attractive to us as they offer higher profit margins and form our core area of expertise as they leverage the skills of a talented set of technical staff who receive regular training.
What are you currently working on?
One of the high-value projects we’re working on at the moment is building a galvanising plant for the Egyptian Army under the supervision of Italian company Indeco Ind. SPA. The contract amount is EGP 18M and the duration is 9 months.
Another project we’re working on is for the Wadi El Nile Cement Company. They’re expanding a new cement kilning line using coal instead of natural gas to save cost as well as strategically reduce natural gas consumption in the country. Coal by nature is very flammable so we have taken up a very challenging EGP 6M contract for the installation of a fireproof system over a 3-months period.
We’re also currently working on a specialised project at the Bani Swaif Electricity Plant with Siemens and Elsewedy Electric Co. building gas and steam turbines. Our services extend to include the installation of plumbing systems along with fireproof systems and air-conditioning systems for the Mivida housing projects owned by Emaar.
You spoke of expansion. What are your plans?
We’re focusing on two sectors that are very important to the Egyptian economy. The first is the energy sector where we are entering into projects for the building of solar farms. We’ve contracted as the construction arm for Sterling and Wilson (owned by the Shapoorji Pallonji Group), one of the biggest companies in the field of solar energy generation, where we’re currently working on a solar energy project in upper Egypt.
The other sector we are focusing on is fish hatcheries. Fish provide a low-cost source of protein as prices of meat and chicken have been on the rise. Egypt has plenty of seas and lakes as well as our river Nile to spur fish production. For fisheries, we have entered into a EGP 47M contract with the Egyptian Army.
What are the challenges you’re facing in your business?
The changes in government rules and regulations have not been very accommodating to the business. Consequently, we often incur costs that were not accounted for from the beginning.
What do you like about GroFin?
I am impressed by the scale of your business support as well as GroFin’s mission to achieve social impact from its investments.
Finally, what differences do you perceive between banks and GroFin?
Banks usually don’t give attention or support to clients the way GroFin does. The business support received from GroFin has helped us tremendously.