IN CONVERSATION WITH MUTASSIM DAIAAN

IN CONVERSATION WITH MUTASSIM DAIAAN

Mutassim Daiaan is the Director and CEO at Fair Technology, a concern of Fair Group. For years, the Group has been working to expand the “Made in Bangladesh” portfolio and bringing the country’s technological manufacturing expertise to the limelight.

Fair Group is one of the fastest growing conglomerates in the country and has many portfolios including Fair Electronics – the manufacturing & Retail part of Samsung Electronics as the major project. Apart from this Fair Group has also extended in Distribution, Enterprise Business, Restaurant, Food and most recently the Group has enriched its portfolio through becoming the automobile dealer of Hyundai – the 4th largest automaker in the world – in Bangladesh. The Group has declared the manufacturing of Hyundai automobiles in the country’s Bangabandhu HI-Tech Park by 2022.  

Mutassim Daiaan, a promising and talented next-generation entrepreneur, has followed in his father’s footsteps to lead the latest endeavor to assemble and manufacture Hyundai’s cars for the Bangladeshi market.

Bangladesh Brand Forum recently held a talk with Daiaan about the local automobile sector, Fair Technology’s plans for the market, and challenges to overcome.

BBF: Can you share the journey of Fair Technology from its inception till now in the automobile industry?

Mutassim Daiaan: My father, Ruhul Alam Al Mahbub, Chairman of Fair Group, started his journey by importing and selling mobile phones and FMCG goods in the 90’s. He became the distributor for Nokia in the 2005 when the brand was at its peak and he took distributorship of Samsung Electronics from 2014. I remember when Bangladesh’s Prime Minister expressed her wish to have locally manufactured Mobile Phones back in 2016. My father took the initiative to start Samsung Mobile Phone manufacturing in Bangladesh. During that time, it was a challenge to bring a leading global brand in Bangladesh. His hard work, perseverance and team playing approach has made it a success story today.

Fair Technology is following that same philosophy with Hyundai. The automaker had been pleased with our success with Samsung and were ready to do business with us. As a result, we became the distributor for Hyundai in late 2019 and they agreed to support on local manufacturing. Bangladesh will soon witness locally assembled Hyundai cars in our market.

What influenced the decision to enter the automotive industry in particular?

We had initially contemplated entering the motorcycle industry but after much analysis, my father decided that the automobile industry is where we can make the greatest impact. Our company is deeply intertwined with technology and we felt that automobiles are the next step for Bangladesh in terms of technological advancement. It becomes clear, if you look at Elon Musk and his success at commercializing Electric cars or if you look at the exciting new technologies and innovations in the auto industry. We’re very excited about these innovations, particularly because they will play a big role in combating climate change and fossil fuel scarcity. There’s also the fact that automotive assembly and manufacturing industry is very limited in Bangladesh with none of the big names present, and we believe this should be the next frontier for “Made in Bangladesh”.

What’s your outlook on the automotive sector market in Bangladesh and what impact will Fair Technology create in this sector?

If we take a look at the statistics, roughly 30,000 cars are sold annually with a lion’s share coming from reconditioned cars. Adjusting this number with our population, we can the shortfall of car penetration compared to neighboring countries. In India, there’s a car for every 8 households and over here in Bangladesh, the number is incomparable. Every 70 household in Bangladesh have one car on average. In Myanmar alone, Hyundai sells more than 20,000 cars annually, and over here in Bangladesh that number is very low. That’s the picture we wish to change in Bangladesh and by driving the demand of locally manufactured cars in Bangladesh, we wish to enlarge the size of the pie in this sector.

Given that it’s still in its nascent stage, what future potential do you see for the EV market in Bangladesh?

With Climate change and pollution becoming a grave concern for future generations, we’re excited with what Hyundai’s vision to address these issues. They are aggressive in achieving their goals with alternate fuel vehicles, like their ‘Ioniq’ line that have hit the market. We believe the shift to electric vehicles will be a global phenomenon soon, with countries like the UK is planning to ban sales of gasoline cars by 2030.

If I were to look at the obstacles, I would point out the lack of well-defined tariff and duty structures for EVs and also the lack of charging stations. Another issue is purchasing power and knowledge about the merits which I think will be alleviated as globally prices drop, our country’s purchasing power increases, and the newer generations become more knowledgeable about climate change.

In order to emerge as the next hub for automobile assembly and manufacturing, what areas do we need to invest and work on?

The government had been highly supportive when we set up our Samsung factory in Narsingdhi and we believe that the government shares our enthusiasm in building highly technical industries. In terms of skilled talent, I think our people have the potential as has been demonstrated by our engineers and technicians at our smartphone plants.

One big challenge for foreign direct investment would be the repatriation of money. By making it easier to do business here, we will be seeing a lot of FDIs and the subsequent growth of our industries. The government can also institute policies to make locally made cars much more competitive. Once we can overcome these hurdles, the people of Bangladesh will naturally gravitate towards “Made in Bangladesh” cars and we’ll see the emergence of this sector as a powerhouse.

What is the way forward for Fair Technology in the next five years and beyond?

In the next five years we have set a few milestones to achieve. Two very important ones will be the completion of our assembly plants and then incorporating manufacturing capabilities. By the second quarter of next year, we hope to be rolling out locally assembled cars, and by 2025, we will be seeing locally manufactured Hyundai cars hit the roads of Bangladesh.

My father has great ambitions and plans for Fair Group. After we’ve hit our goals, the possibilities just expand from there. In Korea, we can see the seamless integration of local smartphones and automobiles leading to a plethora of new services for consumers. If we can replicate our success with smartphones in the automotive sphere, the possibilities will be endless.

As a next-gen Entrepreneur, what are your ambitions to take Fair Technology and the group forward?

I’m still trying to learn from my father. As my mentor, he imparts his best knowledge, ethics, and morals. One of the important things he has taught me is to be a good human being first. I admire his business acumen and wisdom, and that is something I try to observe and learn from him. I believe that once I have properly grasped how he has built

this group to where it is today, I will have what it takes to create a new roadmap to take Fair Group to the next level.

Being a young business leader, you serve as an inspiration for the youth of the country. What message would you like to convey to them?

As a fellow youth, I know that we don’t like hearing sugar-coated messages so I will be blunt. Life is tough. There are days when we don’t want to shave or get up and do something. It’s important for us to find a passion, get out of our house, and make a difference. We’re young and we’ll be alive in this country for a long time, and so we need to get up and make a difference where we live. So, to sum it all up, know what it is that you want to do, and work hard to get good at it.

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