Antigua & Barbuda, as well as other countries in the region, is working to promote and attract foreign investment. What would you say are Antigua’s most significant competitive advantages compared to other countries in the region?
Originally, we started our business in the fifties by issuing of credit, we started this credit system in Antigua. The climate, the beaches, the environment that we are in, easy access, and we have a very liberal economy. It is very easy to do business in Antigua, we have the CIP programme which enable people from all the world to invest in Antigua. Antigua is also strategically located and it is easy to get to.
Hadeed Group is a true local success story. The company is now focused on 4 main industries: construction, finance, energy and transport. Why focus on these particular sectors?
Originally, we started our business in the fifties by issuing of credit, we started this credit system in Antigua, where there was mass of unemployment in the fifties and my grandfather back then realized that there was need for a common house of items; beds, televisions, refrigerators, and people could not afford these items, so he started by issuing credit. So, the financing has always been part of our business going back to the fifties. In the sixties, we were the prominent manufacturers in Antigua; my dad for instance was manufacturing all different types of furniture, in a factory, which grow up to 200 people. My other uncle was in the manufacturing of garments and also went on to the assembling of refrigerators, and appliances. So, our background it is manufacturing, and that did quite well. The introduction of the credit system, then the introduction of the easy credit financing to people that at that time could not afford those items.
We have evolved into the automotive in the seventies, and again, there was very little basic transportation on the island. We felt the need, we provided taxi drivers, bus drivers, so we have always worked with the people in terms of developing a credit system. Coming into the eighties, we founded the finance company again doing consumer lending, and lending to operators, to government projects, and in the nineties again we expanded further, in to the construction business by constructing apartments and condominiums. Then in 2000 we moved into the masonry business; we produce the blocks, the sand, the stone, most of that is produced locally along with the power business.
Finance & Development Company Limited was incorporated in 1984 out of the necessity to provide financing to the ordinary man who had difficulty in accessing financing through the established commercial banks. What role has this played for Antiguans and what impact has this had on other financial institutions?
Financial development has a major impact in the development of Antigua and Barbuda in the sense that we still lend to those who’s the banks do not want to lend to, which are taxi drivers, farmers, vendors, single mothers. Those who do not have a sophisticated financial standard to borrow from the regular banks and we feel that by taking risks and knowing the background of the people, we have a lot of success stories of taxi operators, car rentals, construction operators that got the financing from us. So, I think that the FDC along with the local indigenous lending institutions have had a major impact in the development of Antigua.
Due to the continued difficulty in securing loans from local banks, there is a great demand for securing finance from other sources, either locally or internationally. You were quoted saying, “I see the Hadeed Group going more and more into the financial services sector. I envision us going into major financing and property development at the regional and international levels”. What are your intentions in this regard and what are your priorities within this sector?
We plan to keep the finance and development company as a finance company. We intend to continue what we are doing now and diversify probably into mortgages and construction financing.
Hadeed Motors is Antigua's premier motor vehicle dealership and the former Prime Minister Lester Bird stated: « Hadeed Motors is also one of the country's most successful and dynamic business enterprises… ». What makes Hadeed Motors such a successful company?
Customer service, easy financing working with the people and making our products affordable to all.
You are partners with a number of international brands. You are an authorized dealer for: Suzuki, Nissan, and Daihatsu. The Gaston Browne Administration is making a lot of efforts to reach out to new investors in Antigua. Are you looking to increase your international partnerships and if so, how are they going to know that Hadeed Motors Group is the partner of choice?
We also have diversified out of Antigua. We have a distributorship in Trinidad where we do GM, General Motors, Suzuki and Porsche.
If the opportunity comes up, we will look for further expansions.
Antigua Masonry Products, LTD. produces and supplies aggregates, mortar mix, boulders, sand, bag cement, and concrete block in Antigua region. Does Antigua Masonry Products’ target primarily customers in the local or foreign market? How do you engage with them and promote your products?
They are part of our group. We also extend finance to their customers, and we have also upgraded the plants and machinery and it is a plan that needs constant investment.
Innovation is the key for every company and institution to stay competitive. How exactly are you incorporating innovation into your work in order to remain relevant?
In automotive, we have ADP, which is an integrated computer system that manages 80% of all dealerships in the world, based on the US. Actually, it runs the social security in the states.
We also do innovations in different masonry manufacturing techniques, in block plants, etc.
Mr. Hadeed, CSR is a useful measure for helping the communities in which you work and giving back to your hard-working personnel. Is the company involved in any kind of CSR projects or programs?
We do a lot of charity donations for education, charity. Each company does its own contribution. But it is quite substantial at the end of the year.
We have a tremendous effect in helping people.
What are your plans for the future? Will you continue to diversify into multiple sectors or focus on expansion in your current lines of work?
We will be expanding extra regionally, we will be looking at doing more developments, such resort developments. We are looking to develop a Marina, which is a greenfield project that will be attracting mega yachts.
Mr. Hadeed, you are the man in charge of the million-dollar enterprise and you also serve as a Director of Finance & Development Corporation. Out of all of your achievements, what are you most proud of?
Improving the style of life of people, creating employment and sustainable development.
As Director of Hadeed Group. What is your personal message to our readers? What would you like to say to the international investment community?
Come to Antigua, because the island needs investment.