Lamis Bin Harib is the Co-founding Partner & Marketing Director of UAE-German collaboration Ecabiotec Middle East Manufacturing LLC, headquartered in Business Bay. Ecabiotec ME runs a factory in Dubai Industrial Park utilizing ECALIT® technology, monitored from Germany, to produce biologically human identical, environmentally friendly, non-toxic germ reduction solutions. The company also provides full consulting and industrial utilities upon client requirements, and currently spans projects in both the government and private sector.
Prior to her involvement with Ecabiotec, Lamis was also the founder & CEO of BioD Packing & Packaging, the first Arab owned business specializing in the design and supply of bio-disposables in the Middle East. Lamis has now ranked in many lists in both business & green in publications like Forbes Middle East, Gulf Business, Finance ME, and Emirates Woman. She has an MS in Design with a thesis in Mass Green Solutions from Pratt Institute in New York City.
Here’s more what YesGulf team explored about Lamis Harib who is making a spectacular mark in the UAE’s business world as an incredibly successful entrepreneur.
What has made you greatly successful as an entrepreneur?
I really believe success is an ongoing process and defined differently to everyone, it’s also not a destination and definitely something you keep up with a lot of work as well as working with the right team and collaborators. No one ever makes it alone.
In my case, what worked for me from a distinctive point was a mix of persistence, passion, and consistency. Of course, your business has to also be viable or made viable, and in both my businesses so far I was actively creating the demand and awareness for a new concept or product.
How you conceived of this business idea and what your dreams were? Isn’t it a little off track for a woman to start her entrepreneurship with disinfection industry?
I actually didn’t start off in the disinfection industry and Ecabiotec Middle East is my second business. I started my career with BioD Packing & Packaging which is now being transferred to new owners with further development capabilities and experience in the plastics industry.
It is quite rare in the Arab world watching 2 Emirati women as part of the founding team for Ecabiotec Middle East because both happened to be in these industries in the past. But, we’re in the U.A.E where women are continuously proving themselves as equals in business and I strongly believe entrepreneurship will continue to become even more so a very leveled playing field here. Manufacturing is very male dominant, and we’ve made use of all our experienced collaborators and are appreciative of being able to work with our entire team.
Setting up Ecabiotec Middle East as a biotechnology consultancy & manufacturer off of the existing Ecabiotec in Germany was originally presented to me by a male acquaintance in my prior business, and from there we collaborated on bringing the right investor on board, Dr. Hisa Nasser Lootah, who is now our CEO and partnered vision is really what developed the company’s trajectory today.
What made you choose the current location for your business and what role it played in the success of your business venture so far?
Being from Dubai and as an Emirati, it’s with great pride that our company can manufacture ‘Made In UAE’ products that are really a new generation of products in their industry, and be able to solve issues and inspire policies from both a municipal angle with government entities to the private sector. Dubai is an incredible city for business, and all eyes in the region look up to what Dubai is doing as a trend setter in many fields, and in fact many regional companies also tend to also have their offices in Dubai.
Sustainability is a huge part of the UAE’s vision and having green products replacing industrial chemicals and actually giving better results are quite on the brand for a city of innovation and environmental aspirations. From a logistics perspective, Dubai has also been ideal for our current unfolding vision of expanding regionally starting with the GCC.
What’s the key element in your opinion to be a successful businesswoman? How do you see the degrees of simplicity or complexity in what you have created?
Being able to push through the hard times in both a personal and professional level and really not giving up is probably the biggest quality. It’s not easy and it can be messy, but not having a circumstance thrown at you define your stopping or keeping on will often separate those who ‘make it’ and those who give up.
In terms of degrees of simplicity or complexity, I think having an idea or even developed business plan is always the easy part. Anyone can start a business, and even a convincing business. The complexity is continuously adapting to what it actually becomes after implementation and especially when it’s a new concept or product that’s hard to predict the market’s reaction with accuracy in pure research.
How your previous work experience supported you in making the current endeavor the biggest achievement of your life?
I don’t really use superlatives with my achievements as I’d like to think I can continuously grow. My experience and interest in green design & green industries has definitely helped a lot in building a name in green prior to the Ecabiotec Middle East and allowed me to be comfortable with the technical and scientific parts of what we do, working with technical teams, and being that bridge for their solutions to the end users and clients.
How your company is contributing towards the health and welfare of United Arab Emirates?
Not only our products are ‘Made In UAE’ at a time where diversification of our economy is a big topic, our products also replace toxic chemicals and address the many problems with disinfection in creating resistant strains of germs. Our solution also removes antibiotic and hormone residues which are now entering into our waters heavily, and providing healthier and more environmental ways to disinfect in multiple industries while providing significantly higher results than all the toxic options.
What makes your products and services stand tall amongst the rest of the lot?
There has never been a combination of high grade and environmental/safe to the degree of our standards in a product line before, especially at the costs we are providing which are all at market standard costs as we can control our prices as a manufacturer. Our water product is even used in drinking water by the German government in public housing, and is also the only current market solution for Legionella that does not require evacuation or halts in water usage.
How do you build a successful customer base? What level of difficulties you face in the due course?
This would be different for every business. But, in a general sense, it’s knowing your target market, what problems you can solve, and communicating your competing edge over your competitors or creating it if it’s not there in the beginning. Difficulties are a set part of any business journey and is something that comes up for us every day. Whether it’s dealing with difficult distributors, finalizing contracts that take longer than expected to close, learning about new types of projects that we have to consult for, and the general difficulty of creating awareness for a completely new product and educating the market.
Personally for me, it was negotiating with a global company to give my partner and I a representation contract without having an investor on board yet, and then having to come back to them with both a strategy moving forward and a strategic investor in a period of 3 months before moving onto an MOU.
Let’s talk about how did 2016 go, what were your expectations and from where you stand now how do you feel about it and foresee future opportunities?
2016 was a critical year, as Ecabiotec Middle East Manufacturing, LLC was registered in May, even though we had been laying the groundwork for it a long time prior. It was also my year of deciding that I would be working for Ecabiotec Middle East full time and passing on BioD to owners who had the resources and large teams to take it further as it had grown beyond what I could handle with Ecabiotec full time. I also joined the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund strategic team as an advisory member moving forward and additionally participated in Innovation Week, which was a huge honor to be able to find an overlap in what I do in the private sector to being active with the government and ministry in a small way.
Any message you want to convey to struggling dreamers especially women who want to be successful like you?
I’m very big on being consistent and not giving up, but also as a pragmatist, if something is too much of a struggle even with all your best work and the market is letting you know again and again that there’s no place for this idea, I would definitely look into making pivots and/or not holding on. No matter what you do there will be so many lessons, and taking those instead to move forward with something else may be the best decision.
The world is really changing for women and we’re seeing more and more women succeeding in business and leadership, and it’s a good time for us, so I’m very optimistic for many more to find a strong standing place for their ideas. I also don’t believe entrepreneurship is the right path for everyone (this goes for both men and women), many incredibly smart and skilled people do better in secondary roles and just have an overall preference to being job specific, and those same people also contribute hugely to big companies and are an integral part of their success story.
Success in the end is what makes you happy, and if succeeding in business becomes a big factor that affects your mental or physical health, then some changes are due, big or small. Success in the business sense is not a small easy task and it can be very stressful and overwhelming, and will always require more to increase its longevity.