Mr. Ahmed Rasheed Hassan | Founder & Chairman of The Hawks Pvt Ltd

The Hawks Pvt Ltd is a family owned company founded by Mr. Ahmed Rasheed Hassan and now managed by his children. With more than a decade of service, The Hawks is one of the leading companies in the import and distribution of high quality fuel across Maldives.

Could you tell us a little about how you got started in the industry?

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I started out working as a clerk in a government office in an island. During the course of my duties, I started assisting the Katheeb (Island Chief), almost in the capacity of ‘Kuda Katheeb’ (Deputy Island Chief) and was promoted to the role of island chief later on. This was the most prominent jobs in the government one could hope to be in back in the day. Even though I served the government, for almost 33 years, I did pursue a small business on the side as something to fall back on. I grew up experiencing a lot of hardships as my father had passed away when I was very young. I am used to hard work and going the extra mile to ensure that we always had food on the table. To ensure another source of income, we opened a faaroshige in our home back in the island. Locals from Lhaviyani and Raa atoll came to buy our bread rusk. Even then I had a vision of getting into the bigger business of fuel delivery in the country. However, I could not really pursue it on a large scale as I was not financially well off at the time. There was also not much of a market back then. I gave my best to my work as a public servant while following my visions. My first priority was my job at the government and my own business came second.

Our Hawks adventure began after my family decided to move to Male’ in 2007. I bought a pickup truck with a capacity of 5000 liters and approached the majors in the market to receive fuel. However, I was initially turned down as my business was too small at the time. Through a lot of effort and due to being ambitious, I managed to co-operate with Fuel Supply Maldives (FSM) as a start. There were a lot of obstacles to overcome when I first started this venture; There was high competition in the fuel industry back then. My determination and perseverance did not, however, waiver. I knew I could do it. As a result, we now have 14 fuel bowsers in the capital city itself, a strong fleet of 27 vessels, including 3 vessels that travel overseas, 5 ferries, 6 speed boats and our cargo and big fuel supply bargains with a capacity from 5,000 liters up to 4.5 million liters.

With the diversification of our business, our team has also expanded to roughly 275 employees by today. We have been doing considerably well the last years, especially in light of how we struggled to get through the hurdles we faced in the beginning. We are proud to offer our clients a more diverse service portfolio including boat yard services, our very own bricks factory, construction services, sea transportation as well as the opening of two guesthouses.

How was the transition from fuel supplies business to the tourism industry?

In order to not depend solely on the fuel supply business, we opened a small souvenir shop in my home island Kamadhoo. During those days there was a passenger liner operated by Universal Enterprises. They used to stop by at the island as we were one of the stops on the route. We received additional income from the shop as it was the only shop for the tourists on the island. This was our first steps into the tourism industry, shortly followed by the opening of a second souvenir shop in B. Eydhafushi. The tourism industry was always part of our history.

All we have now, we built from nothing. We did not inherit any luxuries. With the growing of the tourism industry in the Maldives and the opportunities to open guesthouses and hotels on local islands, we expanded our business in this field. We are proud to have the only hotel with a pool on the rooftop in Hulhumale. The Airport Beach Hotel features a total of 11 rooms and offers a luxury stay and the finest dining facilities. Our second property the “Tropical Biosphere Hotel” is located where the story of our business started – on Kamadhoo Island. As we see the local tourism as a future-oriented area, we were keen to invest more on our home island and expect the opening of our third property the “Tropical Beach Hotel” on Kamadhoo island in late 2019.

What is one of the most significant challenges you have faced?

That would be the time when I was informed to move to the southern part of the country, only two days after my wife gave birth to our second child. Back then I was working as a public servant. I had a family to support after all, so I accepted the separation from my family. I still remember how devastated and hopeless I felt back then. That was one of the biggest personal challenges I had to face.
As for my business, I had to undergo a lot of difficulties when I initially started the Hawks venture. The most difficult part was to procure fuel on time as a newcomer in the business. In the beginning it took almost one day to receive the fuel with mostly a very limited quantity. As a new player entering the market, company values such as reliability and delivery were important for us and the unstable procurement process a hurdle. An additional obstacle was the sabotage of our fuel tanker docked at Male’ harbor. I faced a lot of other similar difficulties but I kept on, refusing to give up. In the end we look back on those hardships as one of the leading companies for the import and distribution of fuel with a company history of more than 11 years.

What do you consider as your biggest success?

It gives me great pleasure and peace to know that all of my six children have now completed their studies and are now making a name for themselves. Today, my children are the driving force behind the business, and that is my biggest success. I do not have to worry about them having to deal with the difficulties I had to endure. However, I am still in charge of overlooking the entire operations but my children are the pillars of the company now. With my years of business experience and their knowledge and professional education of today, we were able to make our operations a success. We are looking forward to a very bright future with an even bigger company portfolio.

What is your advice to the small and medium entrepreneurs who are new to the industry?

Always be truthful – to the people, and to yourself. Be courageous enough to take on the responsibilities that come along in the line of business. You should observe closely and ensure that you are paying people who will help you to grow the business, and not hinder it in any way. Employers should hire good people, who will do the job properly and responsibly. If there is an employee who does not offer anything to you, do not be hesitant to take the necessary steps required towards that employee. Regardless of how close that person may be to you personally, your professional judgment should not be clouded because of a personal relationship. Your business cannot grow on personal likes and dislikes. It grows simply because of your professional thinking. Commitment and knowledge of the operations at all times is very important. You need to know every tiny aspect of your company so that you are able to guide your employees. As the founder of a company, you are the role model for the team which you need to inspire. Be prepared to show managerial excellence and to invest a lot of time into your business. To manage an own business means not to have an 8 hours job but one which you are responsible 24 hours for your employees, business partners and clients. Irrespective of how big the company grows, one must be able to maintain the company and do what is necessary.

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