Helping Companies Produce in Yemen, For Yemen
“Today we are highlighting the best features of the water tanks and turning them into a competitive advantage—attracting more customers and hence increasing our sales.” — Adnan Ahmad Mohammed, Financial Manager, Al Harmeen Factory
Yemenis are known throughout the Middle East as savvy businesspeople—a profile that Adnan Ahmad Mohammed fits to a tee. With a bachelor’s degree in finance and a career that already has taken him from bookkeeper to financial manager in a growth-oriented company, the dynamic 30-year-old speaks with enthusiasm about the new business opportunities within Yemen’s manufacturing industry. The Al Harmeen Factory, where he works, produces plastic tanks and containers that are in high demand for commercial, industrial, and residential use, particularly in urban centers.
“In the last few years, there has been a reconstruction movement in Lahij Governorate, and a huge urban expansion has begun. As a result, the demand for plastic water tanks is booming, as they are essential for ensuring water supply to homes and businesses,” says Mr. Mohammed. “This inspired our decision to establish a new factory in the south.”
Al Harmeen Factory was founded in 2008 in Ta’izz, which is situated in the highlands of southwestern Yemen. When it decided to expand, the company looked further southwards towards the port city of Aden, where demand for finished products was high and they could expand their customer base. Rather than shipping products to Aden from Ta’izz, however, the Al Harmeen management decided to build a second factory in the south. “There we could be close to both the markets and the suppliers of raw materials, so we could manufacture our products in Aden directly and reduce shipping expenses,” explains Mr. Mohammed.
While the company had the technical know-how to establish another factory, it lacked the marketing expertise to capture new customers and help reach its target of 20 percent growth in sales. To address this gap, Al Harmeen entered into a partnership agreement with USAID’s Economic Growth and Livelihoods Program (ERLP). ERLP brought in the expertise to help the company assess the market demand in Aden, design a new marketing strategy and market-access plan, and reposition the factory to respond to customer demands. ERLP’s specialists worked with the production teams and quality assurance staff to identify the company’s most salient selling points and competitive advantages, and with the sales and marketing department to improve their customer relations capacity.
“The assistance showed us how to employ the art of marketing and entrench our brand in the minds of clients,” says Mr. Mohammed. “Our customers usually value price over quality, but ERLP helped us to craft our key messages and highlight the best features of the water tanks in a way that shifts customers’ perspectives, so now they look toward the quality and the tailored specifications that match their needs.”
Following the support from USAID, Al Harmeen has been able to enter new markets in the southern districts of Al-Makha, Al-Khoka, and Al Dhale’a, and they are beginning to develop export customers abroad. With increasing production and sales, the company has hired 23 new employees, and it expects to double the number by 2023.
“We listen carefully to the feedback from our customers, and we plan to expand our plastic product lines and production to fulfill their needs,” says Mr. Mohammed. “We aim to provide job opportunities for as many Yemeni people as we can, while also providing an alternative to foreign-made products and achieving local self-sufficiency.”
Since July 2020, USAID has partnered with 261 enterprises and entrepreneurs (65 percent of them women-owned), generating 1,814 new jobs and helping increase company sales by an average of 106 percent. By fortifying companies’ workforce capacity, productivity, supply chains, and access to finance, USAID leverages the private sector’s capacity for reducing Yemen’s dependence on imported goods and for building durable growth and stability.
USAID’s Economic Recovery and Livelihoods program (ERLP) addresses critical economic stabilization challenges in Yemen. At the macroeconomic level, it works with public and private institutions to restore economic stability, enhance fiscal management, and increase international trade flows. At the microeconomic level, ERLP strengthens agricultural, fisheries, and private sector performance and competitiveness—creating jobs, raising incomes, and improving livelihoods.