(MENAFN- Brazil-Arab News Agency (ANBA))
São Paulo – Brazilian entrepreneur Leonardo Marinho (pictured) started last June a trading company in Oman that provides barista training, consulting services for coffee shops, and coffee imports and exports. This is his first step into the Arab world after opening a successful coffeeshop in Zanzibar, Tanzania, a project that had first started with the purpose of being a volunteer in social causes.
Now, besides the humanitarian support, Marinho seeks to expand his business into the Arab world and use his expertise, investments and training to break into other markets in the Middle East.“Businesswise, (Oman) is strategic to enter Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, which is our goal,” he says.
Prior to investing in the coffee world, though, Marinho had worked as an engineer in Brazil. His goal used to be becoming the CEO of a company, but in 2013 he and his wife Taís left Brazil to fulfil the desire to work as volunteers in social causes. They moved to South Africa to study English. Then they went to Tanzania in 2014, when they decided to start their own business. A coffeeshop was an investment they could make, so Marinho started studying and preparing to work with a product that he previously“only drank to stay awake,” he said.
They left Zanzibar and moved temporarily to Colorado Springs, United States. Over 2015, Marinho took courses on coffeeshop management at a business school and did an internship. Back to Zanzibar, Marinho opened Puzzle Coffee Shop. As the years went by, he specialized until he obtained the highest levels of barista, brewing and roasting certification. All these courses were taken during his stint in Tanzania.
The large inflow of people from the Middle East – particularly Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia – showed them there was a business opportunity in the Middle East. After several studies, Oman ended up being the chosen country for its cultural similarities to Zanzibar and because, Marinho says, it has lower costs than other Middle East states. Together with his wife and their Brazilian-born 1- and 7-year-old, they moved to Oman's capital city Muscat. Starting the trading firm in Oman took three weeks. In Zanzibar, it had taken them nine months.“There's less bureaucracy, and Oman offers incentives for foreign investors,” he said.
The company's leading source of revenue is training, as the market in the Middle East, Marinho says, has a big demand for specialty coffees, which are free from impurities and feature unique sensory attributes, and for people that are able to provide a superb service in preparing such coffees.“I try to tap into what you can bring here. The customer here is more demanding because of their purchasing power,” he says. The trainings he provides, he says, are the first step towards a bigger project.“I'll explore as much of this market as possible, and I see a huge potential to grow,” he says.
Meanwhile, Marinho keeps the store in Zanzibar that is now ran by a manager he trained when he still lived there. Puzzle indeed had always been the name he envisioned for when he became the CEO of his own business.“Because life is a constant puzzle that we are working on,” he says.
Translated by Guilherme Miranda
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