“It all started when I had a very good cup of coffee two years ago and I wanted to know how I could make something like it,” says Abdulrahman al-Malki as he explains how he came to be a Qatari barista and the owner of his own coffee shop – and what led him to deliver an interactive workshop as part of WISE’s Doha Learning Days festival at Education City.
The session at Qatar’s first experiential learning festival focused on ‘How To Build a Successful Neighbourhood Business’, and saw al-Malki – who runs Frame Specialty Coffee and also works at Qatar Foundation (QF) member Qatar Career Development Centre – outline the journey he has taken in turning his passion for coffee into a successful business, and the key elements young people should consider when planning to establish their own ventures.
“It is all about taking opportunities,” explains al-Malki. “I am not here to say that everyone should get into coffee, but I want to tell people that they should find something that they love and are passionate about.
“If I wasn’t happy in what I do, I would not be here talking to other people about it.”
In 2017, al-Malki had the chance to work as a barista at Flat White Coffee Shop. A year later, he opened his own coffee shop in his Al Aziziyah neighbourhood in Doha. “My idea was just to create a cosy and comfy place in my neighbourhood that would bring people together over coffee,” he says.
“A place where people can feel comfortable and can have a conversation with the people next to them, because what I love about what I do is not only the coffee-making itself, but also engaging with people. This is the culture that I wanted to foster in the Qatari community.”
During the workshop, al-Malki presented some of the handmade sketches that he created when he was putting the idea of Frame together, and imagining how he wanted his logo, cups and premises to look like.
He told the audience that the idea for the name “of his business came from the fact that he wanted to ‘frame coffee’, and was looking for a simple and straightforward name that would resonate with people”.
He also gave them some advice for starting up a successful business, such as the importance of focusing on quality rather than branding, how to be more cost-effective and how to overcome the challenges that new businesses may face. Maha al-Kaabi, a student at QF partner university Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, said: “It was interesting to hear from a young Qatari starting his business in the local market. We see so many new businesses that people can underestimate the challenges that startups may face. “It was good to hear him sharing his experience and being open to questions to satisfy our business curiosity.”
Dana Abu Shanab, a graduate of Northwestern University in Qatar, also a QF partner university, added: “I learned from the discussion that starting a business is not as easy as it looks, and maintaining success is also challenging.” Doha Learning Days, which concludes tomorrow, is hosting educational and experiential workshops that are free of charge and open to everyone. For the full Doha Learning Days programme, or to register for specific sessions, one can visit www.wise-qatar.org/wise-2019/doha-learning-days/.
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