The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Global Dubai-souvenir firm looks for more partners in Sri Lanka


A Dubai-based international company dealing in gifts and souvenirs is looking for more tie-ups with Sri Lankan firms or groups to provide skilled persons and handicrafts.“We are looking for JVs but not in terms of capital equity but in terms of skilled handicraft-men. In fact, our approach is rural community engagement which is our global practice and as a result we are also known for CSR and charity,” N.P Fakih, Managing Director of the Fakih Group, a souvenir, gift and handicraft items supplier to 28 countries with manufacturing operations in 14 countries, told Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka during a meeting in Colombo.
M Fakih, was quoted in the Ministry media release, as saying that his company already started a pilot project three years ago in Udaperadeniya in Kandy with 30 families and with only $230000 which has become successful.

He said the group employs 5300 employees across 14 countries, mostly women in households on a self-employment basis, to supply the growing demand in volumes in their 28 international markets. “The Group also uses kiosk vending model and in Dubai alone runs 28 kiosks. Among the 5300 employees are 3655 handicraft creators exclusively working for us in Asia,” he said.

“Our basic approach is to encourage households in the countries we operate to supply eco-friendly items with creative designs portraying their culture or traditions. For example, we have encouraged the national flag waving tradition in some countries and now we have managed to create this as a key habit in a South Asian country where its students, not only on the National Day, but to cheer even in during special events such as sports festivals, buy tiny-sized national flags in the morning on their way to school designed by us,” he said.
The group suppliers to the UAE, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey, Morocco, Nepal, Cambodia, African collection, Indonesia, India, Egypt, Yemen, China and wants to add Sri Lanka to the list.

“Initially we will start  with  a few handicrafts with an investment of $3 million but later we would expand. We do not want land, expensive raw material or money from Sri Lanka. We are only looking for handicraft skills mostly and are looking to build gift and handicraft items by paper and wood at first, thereafter by clay. Our raw material requirement here therefore is very basic but Sri Lankan handicraft skills being the most important input material we are looking for,” Mr Fakih said.

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