Financing for F&B start-ups in the UAE can be a challenge

Experts speaking at the Caterer Middle East Food & Business Conference discussed financing and investment in F&B start-ups
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Tahir Shah, one of the speakers during the panel discussion
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Tahir Shah, one of the speakers during the panel discussion

One of the challenges that entrepreneurs in the F&B space face is related to finding the right partners and investors for the project.

Speaking at the Caterer Middle East: Food & Business Conference on March 6, 2018, Cuisinero Uno CEO and culinary director John Buenaventura said he worked on his business plan for 1.5 years and carried out all the requisite surveys, but that wasn't necessarily enough. He shared: "You will face problems that business books will never tell you and you will encounter people both good and bad - but you need to trust the people you're working with." Buenaventura was candid about the fact the team for the restaurant faced a lot of challenges financially.

Mantoushe founder Sophia Sleiman revealed that the brand is at a stage right now where it is looking for a partner to grow. She commented: "You select your team and the right partner, select someone who believes in your principles." She commented that her concept is such that it is "set to be franchised".

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Founder of Moti Roti (which is now closed), Tahir Shah, who also now runs The Food Founder, commented: "In the UAE or Dubai, there is no formula or ecosystem to find an investor. In this marketplace the investor is very cagey for food and beverage; we are over bloated here right now, there is a lot of talent."

He further said that because there are so many independent food concepts - and good ones - out there, it could be beneficial to create a system to allow access to people who are genuinely interested in flourishing the small business community into something bigger.

"We need to be discovered," added Shah.

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