Maimun Mustafa, the head honcho of Renboe Enterprises tells Colors about his challenges and accomplishments and how the company is planning to do global expansion while impacting lives
Could you elaborate on your journey from being a member of the Bangladesh national debate team to your current role in the Renboe enterprise? What were the pivotal moments that shaped your entrepreneurial path?
I’ve been privileged to be on this almost magical path that led to my current position helming Renboe Enterprises. Being part of the most competitive position in the national debate team, I realized that the sky was the limit when I participated in the World Schools Debate Championships in 2007 in Korea. I realized that I had similar intellect, tenacity, and ability to engage with the best minds of 32 different nations. With this confidence, I joined the Simulation SAARC conference right after in July 2007 in Sri Lanka, an event in which we won the Best Delegation representing UNYSAB. I went to HR MUN in December 2007 where I was privileged to be awarded the Special Mention award. Finally, in 2008 I was selected as one of 2 Delegates for Paigaam, an Indo-Pak-Bangla Peace Conference organized by the prestigious Dhirubhai Ambani International School. It was at this juncture that the seeds of global entrepreneurship were instilled into me. I realized my reach did not have to be global by only going to an international university but I could be global while being situated in Bangladesh. It was then that I took up multiple opportunities by co-founding Netbetar.com, Bangladesh’s first internet radio, working with the first social media site of Bangladesh leading the PR wing, and starting my own event management first. I was young. I made money and I lost money. Sometimes those shocks were tough as I had no investors or did not take any loans. I reinvested my compensation from other works in my entrepreneurial activities. I then worked in OGGRO ventures from 2011 and this helped funnel the formation of what is now Movementum Consultancy and Facilitation Group, the prime b2b consultancy and facilitation company behind Renboe Enterprises. Simultaneously I was debating internationally for AIUB in Oxford and Cambridge University IVs as well and I took AIUB to its World Universities Debating Championship in Chennai during 2013 as the VP of English Debate. Alongside my extracurriculars, with a list of local and international brands under MCFG’s name, I then started working as the Executive Director of Indonesia Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry while I was still in university. I led 3 trade delegations and organized an investment summit in Jakarta while culminating my service at the chamber by being the Ideator of the single-country trade fair. I focused on rebuilding MCFG into a full-fledged internationally able trade facilitation organization. As such, I partnered with the Global Chamber, a US-based consultancy agency, and became its Executive Director for Bangladesh in 2020. As the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine swept through the business world we remained resilient. I thought how do we become stronger? I then asked myself what was my biggest strength. I realized ‘it was building relationships’. That is how I formed Renboe Enterprises by going to our closest firms with whom we worked and requesting them to come under one umbrella of almost encompassing 30 companies. I do believe we can impact everything better when we are together. That is the Renboe story.
You mentioned that your participation in the World Schools Debate Championship in 2007 introduced you to brilliant minds from various nations. How did those international connections influence your perspective on entrepreneurship and global opportunities?
These experiences were fundamental. What started out for me as subsidized student holidays and then as work trips, I’ve grown as a person by visiting cultures, sharing conversations over cuisine, and learning from their great hospitality. I have come to believe that even though the world might be greatly divided over most things, human beings have more in common in terms of wanting to be a global tribe with common pathways of wantings to support one another’s growth. For example, friends that I have met in high school internationally in youth events are still in touch and are doing fantastic internationally on their own merits. There are obvious spillovers from these connections that I am humbled by even today.
How important do you think mentorship and a strong support system are for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Answer: I think both play a massive role. I had to learn a lot from fail and success experiences as a youth. Although I don’t regret it, having mentors is pivotal to growth, as one can learn from their expertise. Experience is experience, irrespective of generations and if we are willing to listen with an open mind, the mentor and mentee can both learn from each other. I am privileged to have 4 mentors that I go to for different aspects of my business and I am humbled by their counsel whenever I reach out for it.
Falling multiple times and learning the virtues of grit, mental stamina, and resilience seem to be recurring themes in your journey. Can you share a specific experience that tested your resilience and what you learned from it?
Yes, this is my greatest success story so far. So I had gone to a local chamber of commerce’s meeting and had a given a short delivery. The member beside me was the DMD of a large local FMCG conglomerate and asked what I could do for them. I mentioned I could work on their social media and BTL activations. We had just started out and it would have been a great gig. I got a meeting with the Brand Manager a day later. After a good grilling, the Brand Manager asked us to take up one task. We overperformed on the KPIs and they could not believe it. We still did not get the full work order after we were overperforming with the lowest costs being offered. We finally received the work order the evening before the event and 94.3% of organic footfall came from our promotions online. That was one of the most challenging but equally relishing moments of my career. I learned that there will be times when you will not always be initially valued for your tasks but eventually good work speaks for itself.
Looking ahead, what are your future plans and aspirations for Renboe Enterprises? How do you envision its growth and impact in the coming years?
Renboe Enterprises is the parent organization behind 20+ companies with over 50+ years of global business operations. We want Renboe Enterprises to impact the lives of beneficiaries and stakeholders by leveraging quality, sustainable, and responsible business practices. We especially want Renboe Enterprises to become a 5IR-ready globally trusted brand that enhances the human potential in the areas of provision of education, knowledge and research; shelter; food and food security; clothing; logistics; livelihood; and augmented by sustainable innovation. Rainbow subsidiaries also specialize in sectors that include trading, distribution, consultancy, FnB, education, and biotechnology, among others. This means that we hope to shift towards a service-based organization from purely a product-centric one. In terms of global We currently already have our registered subsidiaries in Malaysia and Australia that oversee ASEAN and Oceania operations. We look forward to establishing our US Subsidiary in Q4 2023 to more closely work with Western markets.