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Ahmed Taha: How Shabaqo Are Transcending Continents To Help Its Community

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Ahmed Taha | Shabaqo Design

Tell us about yourself?

Everything started with my radio days back in Sudan around 8 years ago after my graduation, where I worked on production and took care of radio equipment. I started my journey to specialize in networking and server administration in India, where I spent a year developing myself and my knowledge. After that, I moved to the UAE and started working there.

I found myself working with leading telecom companies in UAE. Throughout these years I gained a lot of knowledge in telecommunications, domain names, websites, marketing, web hosting, and business management. Together, with my partner, who is specialized in business, media, marketing and design, we started Shabaqo Network Website Design under the brand name of Shabaqo.

My partner and I have known each other for years, and we always talked about the issues we see within these industries, and also the issues we see people have when they want to start their company. And so, by seeing all of that we decided to start something completely new with a wish to make a difference.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

I believe it would be a combination of trust and worth. People believe that just because the company is a start-up they aren’t worth the attention as they aren’t “good enough.” They believe that we don’t have enough knowledge and that every single one of us just entered entrepreneurship with no experience. With that misconception, trust follows. They don’t tend to pick smaller companies to help them run their business, and sometimes I think people forget that they were once a startup too.

If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?

It would probably be to stop having doubts about why I started in the first place. A lot of entrepreneurs think that everything will happen in a month or so and that they will become successful overnight, and that is definitely not true.

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Starting a business is filled with successes and failures, and, on top of all, it takes time. Big brands didn’t become big overnight. There is no such success story. I believe that these are the reasons some give up and doubt why they started, and I advise every single one of them to just keep pushing forward and don’t give up on their dream when it gets hard.

What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?

I think me and my partner stand out from others due to the concept of why we started from the beginning. We wanted to create an environment that is ethical, respectful, and fair from the beginning, towards the community, as well as our employees. We noticed that everyone is just promising things and never actually doing something to fulfill it, so we decided to change that.
Shabaqo is a company that not only by its name but also by its core, thrives to respect its African heritage and community, and we honour it through the design on our website.

Following this principle, we wanted to make sure that we also give back to the community through free education. On the other hand, we decided to focus on those that everyone ignores, small and medium businesses that, just like we had, issues at the beginning with starting and finding everything in one place.

I am Sudanese, and my partner is Croatian, and just the mix of those two opposite cultures made us see that in the end, we have common values and that we want to start this for those who also want something better and cannot find a way to speak up. We both feel an inner obligation to make a change.

What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?

I think being patient and the need to learn new skills. Patience is a key in business overall, and good things happen when you believe and wait for things to come together. Moreover, I believe that as an entrepreneur and an owner of this business, I should know how everything inside and outside functions, not to control, but to understand. Of course, I cannot call myself a professional in, for example, digital marketing when I never studied this part nor spent time working in this industry, but I invest time to understand what it does and how things functions so I can support my team the best way I can.

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Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

We go by the mantra, Trust, communicate, develop the best version of ourselves, and make a difference in the community. We want to make sure that we make a notable positive mark where we go. These are also the values that we seek when we hire people, when we sign partnerships and when we serve clients. We are very open and direct in communicating with everyone inside and outside, and we don’t give empty promises no matter what. Also, we want to make sure that those that work with us have the opportunity to grow in their field and to be the best version of themselves.

Where do you see your business in five years?

I believe that 5 years from now we will be able to create an organization that is giving to people from inside as from outside. With our work, we want to influence how companies treat their employees and how they treat their customers. We would like to also become the first choice for business to start their online journey and provide them with safe hands and a respectful environment from the very beginning.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?

Probably the time and difference in mindsets. However, we highly believe that if you set your mind and intentions straight, you will get there no matter what. We started already, so there is no giving up.

Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?

We measure success by the little steps we take. Each one is equally important, no matter how big or small it is. We started a company from nothing, separated between two continents, in the middle of the pandemic, trying to create something different. We are currently working on transferring our values to create a brand that stands behind its words, and we are signing partnerships with other companies to expand our offer. In a very little time, we also received huge support from people all around the world about what we wanted to do. People also love reading our blog too, as through it we currently offer a lot of tips and guides that everyone can take for free.

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All those things, and many more, create our biggest success story.

How do clients and customers find working with you?

I believe they find me easy to deal with and convincing, due to the broad experience that I have in multiple fields made me this way, plus am naturally socially active which makes me enjoy the time I spend with my clients.

What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?

Even when in doubt, do what feels right and what your gut tells you. It is the best way to know where to go next. Everything that happens, happens for a reason.

Believe that you made the right choice the best way you could.

And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?

I hope that in the future I will grow together with my company, give back to the community where I came from and that I will learn more about myself and my people. I hope that we spark a change and that with our future projects, we create a place for free education, support, and entertainment.

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