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Yehya EL OUEINI creates SMExcel to boost small businesses in the MENA region

Published on
26 October 2016

Yehya EL OUEINI, Grenoble Ecole de Management MSc in Business Development Class of 2012, creates SMExcel, the first Market Intelligence Agency of its kind in the MENA region.

How it began

After graduating in 2012, Yehya started his career as an Export Sales Assistant with the French multinational Michelin at their global headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand. He managed the commercial relationships between key importers in the Middle Eastern market and contributed to the development of the company's commercial presence and brand awareness in the rapidly expanding MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

After three years at Michelin, he moved to Paris to pursue a second Master’s degree in Economic Diplomacy, while working at the International Chamber of Commerce, where he continued to focus on topics covering commercial arbitration in the MENA region.

International expansion

In 2015 he joined French multinational Air Liquide, the largest industrial gas company in the world. He is currently a Riyadh- based Regional Account Manager working on developing the company’s industrial merchant business in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

As a Lebanese - French expatriate, he advocates to promote French economic presence and to understand what cooperation tools can be used abroad. Although the potential for sizable profits makes it attractive, doing business with even the most stable economy in the MENA region poses several challenges.

He views these cultural struggles as an opportunity and says solutions can be found by adopting the right approach: “Flexibility and adaptation are essential. Businesses are like humans; overcoming obstacles helps them to grow and prosper". 

A Window for opportunity

Having gained extensive experience navigating these tenuous relationships, Yehya recognized the crucial role that highly qualified international business executives play in these negotiations and seized the opportunity to share his expertise with a relatively untapped niche audience: SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in the MENA region. Therefore, he founded SMExcel, his own market intelligence agency in 2015.

With a motto like “Market intelligence for SME excellence”, SMExcel is the first Market Intelligence Agency of its kind in the MENA region, committed to supporting French and Middle Eastern SMEs looking to develop their presence in the region.

“I realized that the SME landscape in the MENA region lacked market information, financing bodies, clear regulatory frameworks and, most importantly, business support services”. He notes that today, many SMEs struggle to remain “lean and profitable” so they are “streamlining by making the shift to outsourcing business support services”.

Check out the website for more information. 

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