Tariq Khalaf worked in a major financial institution, when he first had the idea of starting a business. He applied for a CR but didnt feel ready to take the jump yet especially when the opportunity opened for him to take a managerial position in a large leisure & entertainment company. His entrepreneurial spirit was already evident in the company brining to Bahrain many facilities never seen before in the area. However, he still found his mind coming back to the idea of being his own boss an taking a shot at doing it alone.
Finally, five years later, in 1997 Tariq Khalaf took the jump and started his company now known as "Al-Khalaf International". With BD 250 from his own pocket and a further BD 250 from his brother he bought two gumball machines from Dubai. He placed one in the newly opened Seef Mall and the other in Al-Jazeera supermarket and was soon generating revenues enough to reinvest in 10 more machines from the U.S. A couple of years later he decided to enter the entertainment business and was the first to open a billiard hall in Isa Town. The ventures were a great success, however, Mr. Khalaf wouldnt allow his head to grow too big and when he saw the EDP program advertised in the local paper he decided that this might be a great learning opportunity. He says; it gave a lot of details that helped run the business and showed me that there were banks out there, namely the BDB, that help entrepreneurs and that organizations like UNIDO who could help me get exposure, make contacts and find information I need to make business decisions. It reall changed the way I think.
Mr. Khalaf restructured the business and a year later won the franchise for "The Sweet Factory". He set up the candy stands in major malls, where they can still be seen today testimony to a sweet relationship. Embravened by his successes Mr. Khalaf now decided to try something much bigger, to open a large entertainment complex in the Bahrain Mall. With assistance from the BDB he got the financing needed and opened Sharkies. The next year Mr. Khalaf won the regional franchise from a Malaysian company providing cup sweet corn, again the business was a success soon spreading through Bahrain and into the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia. This marked Mr. Khalaf's entry onto the regional stage. Mr. Khalaf's journey however was not to be an easy one. Two years after opening Sharkies he had to admit that the business was not making money and shut it down. Isa Town and Hamad Town which had been virgin territory now displayed several pool halls all of which were digging into his profit lines; but luckily he managed to sell them without loosing much. He says, "Sharkies, was the biggest loss I made, but you can't let a business keep bleeding you. At the end of the day its a business, if your not making money what is the poiny?" So it was that he shut down Sharkies, but he still had his profitable franchises and it wasn't going to stop him looking for more opportunities. Soon he found his sweet corn stands being copied too, but thus time Mr. Khalaf decided he was going ahead of the game. So he became a wholesaler providing complete retail kits to anyone who wanted to open a sweet corn stand. This was the opening of a new line of business for Mr. khalaf, who now started importing food stuffs such as margarine, corn & nachos for wholesale to Bahraini stores, while continuing to manage and expand his franchises.
As for the future, Mr. Khalaf sees a world of opportunities. He is about to enter the toy business and has his first shipment arriving at the end of the month. He is also examining industrial opportunities to take advantage of the recently signed FTA with the USA. Mr. Khalaf is also president of the Bahrain Young Entrepreneur's Association and has been working hard to better the conditions for new entrepreneurs and small businesses thought-out the country.In addition, he is a member of the Chamber of Commerce in the Young Businessman Committee and is a founder of the Franchise Association for the Middle East (FAME).