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Story | Research
1 August 2019

The scent of entrepreneurship


Perfumes are an integral part of Arab culture,” says Mohammed Rashid Al-Matwi, the 25 year-old Founder and CEO of ‘The Perfume Factory’ in Qatar, and a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q), a Qatar Foundation (QF) partner university. “In fact, the relationship between perfumes and this region goes back to at least 5000 years. In Qatar, the number of shops and home-based businesses that sell perfumes in malls and souqs is proof of this.

I want to see my country being self-sufficient. And I’m proud that I’m contributing towards that goal.

Mohammed Rashid Al-MatwiFounder and CEO of ‘The Perfume Factory’ in Qatar

Al-Matwi is one among the increasing number of young QF graduates who have bucked the trend of starting tech ventures, choosing instead to focus on businesses that contribute towards Qatar’s cultural self-sufficiency. And for good reason.

“For decades, perfumers who had their own small-scale set up in Qatar imported liquid raw materials to mix their own scents. These chemicals, when imported by individual businesses, are always expensive, and are often from unreliable suppliers. People in the country were forced to use them as they had no local supplier. Hence, the end products were always expensive and of low quality.”

“As a person who could clearly understand just how ingrained perfumes are in our day-to-day life, I wondered if there was anything I could do to help people in Qatar enjoy something that is a part of their identity – at lower costs and higher quality,” says Al-Matwi.

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Al-Matwi’s solution was to build a facility to manufacture perfumes with raw materials of the highest quality, sourced from some of the best suppliers in Europe. In addition, he created a first-of-its-kind service: to build a customized perfume business that handled the A to Z of perfuming making – from sourcing raw supplies to the manufacturing of ready-to-use perfume brands. With persistence, and some timely support and guidance from Qatar Development Bank, he set up the country’s first ‘factory’ dedicated only to perfumes, at the end of 2017.

Situated in Doha’s Industrial area, parts of the building resemble a high-end perfume shop, complete with soft spotlights, elegant furnishing, and display cabinets. Design studios, a high-security blending lab, and a bottling, storing, and dispatching area, complete the facility.

The QF graduate’s business currently caters to a sizeable segment of the local perfumery market. He sells liquid raw materials to local businesses, in addition to blending bespoke fragrances, serving different market segments, including those selling perfumes in hypermarkets, and high-end perfume outlets.

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Al-Matwi says that he’s been preparing for something like this ever since he entered QF’s Education City as a young undergraduate student to study Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at CMU-Q, years ago.

“As a QF student, you’re thrust into this milieu of cultures,” he notes. “Listening to diverse viewpoints and languages, exposes the latent talents you possess. For instance, at CMU-Q, I discovered I had an entrepreneurial streak; that I could multi-task; that I had a flair for e-commerce. It also taught me that people would pay for services that are linked to their traditions. So, in a way, my university education set the stage for me to launch The Perfume Factory.”

“Besides, I want to see my country being self-sufficient. And I’m proud that I’m contributing towards that goal.”

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