On-demand service firm Rizek inspires next-gen with its Impactful Investments

When Rizek’s heroes meet their customers, they represent an organization that sees every action as a “blessing” in disguise, providing smiles, satisfaction and optimism to everyone they serve.

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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UAE-based Rizek is an on-demand service provider that enables its users to subscribe to a wide range of services related to beauty and wellness, maintenance, healthcare, business and design, automotive and education through its app.

The firm meets all of its user’s everyday necessities through its highly skilled community of workers which it prefers to call as ‘heroes’. Rizek is built on the concept of impactful investing, where each investment is intended to bring a change for the better in society. The business was founded by Ahmad Mazroui, Abdallah Abu Sheikh and Hasan Abu Sheikh in September 2019.

Today, our #LivewithOptimism campaign introduces you to Mr. Abdallah Abu Sheikh, co-founder and CEO of Rizek as he shares the story of the brand and discusses the future of digital businesses over interaction with GCC Business News’s reporter Ms. Sayujya S.

What is the story of Rizek?

Rizek is built on the concept of “making an investment which creates a change or makes a significant impact” at its core. For some time now we have been observing the rise of unemployment and underemployment in the region, especially for independent contractors. We wondered if there was something that we could do to bring a change to this situation and allow people to make extra income, while they also get a chance to invest and upskill themselves. This thought brought a spark in us. We discussed it often and around April last year Hasan Abu Sheikh, Rizek’s co-founder initiated the thought process and we all pitched in our ideas to develop the business model which is now, Rizek.

Impactful Investing is what we strive for. We want every dollar invested in Rizek to create a new source of income for someone. When somebody invests in Rizek, not only is it about the financial profits but also about helping someone else to experience a better life by improving their career, earnings and standard of living. You make them feel like a hero on a mission while they make money doing what they love.

How did you arrive at the name ‘Rizek’?

The name is something we evaluated and discussed several times. We wanted to have a name that was unique yet connected with the users for its meaning and shortness. It is always advisable to have a brandable name that can be understood, recollected and reproduced easily. A great name is always an advantage in this crowded marketplace.

We decided on the name Rizek – meaning “blessing” as our venture had the potential to change numerous lives for the better. We were so impressed and convinced of the word’s impact that we ensured that no stone was left unturned to acquire the highly valuable and impactful 16-year-old “rizek.com” domain name to support our brand. We were particular about the ‘.com’ domain as we always extend our services to other geographies once we gain a strong foothold and reputation in UAE.

Rizek’s Co-founder and CEO Mr. Abdallah Abu Sheikh at a public event.

Rizek describes itself as “an online service provider that connects the ‘heroes’ to the users”. The heroes are independent professionals like consultants, photographers, beauticians, doctors, tutors, plumbers, technicians and more who provide services through your platform. Why, according to you, are they the “heroes”?

Because they are. They are our own superheroes. They spend their time with utmost commitment and professionalism in solving ‘people’ problems at the customers’ convenience. Our heroes give up their comfort, their convenience to commit to the highest of service standards. They are the strength of our brand. We cannot imagine any other word that would suit them better.

How many rounds of funding has Rizek raised to date and who are these funders?

Rizek has only raised a modest total of $5 million dollars in funding from several strategic institutions over its 2 investment rounds to date. We are definitely looking to bring in more as and when our business model demands it.

Abdallah Abu Sheikh
Co-founder & CEO – Rizek

“Learn by doing” is the greatest piece of advice that I have ever received. But ensure that you study things comprehensively before heading out into something and then learn more while doing it.

With even services like healthcare being offered, would you describe Rizek to be “revolutionary”? Has the service seen much growth due to the pandemic?

Yes, Rizek is revolutionizing the way services are being delivered. It is opening up new avenues for small, medium scale businesses and individuals enabling them to generate revenue at a time when the market is facing a lot of difficulties.

Healthcare is one of the services that we offer and we are proud to be one of the first ones trying to influence the healthcare services market in the region. Reach out to Rizek and the appropriate healthcare worker will be there to take care of you. I think, due to the pandemic, everybody is now aware of the need for proper precautions and healthcare.

Though we are yet to analyze the official statistics for the period, customers have definitely been depending on Rizek more during the pandemic period. We are glad that we could serve them at the right time. We are gaining customer confidence and would love to be known as the “Home Doctors” soon. We hope that once the service is a success, we could develop a separate wing, the “Rizek Health” in the future.

Your plans to upskill the freelancers and service providers on your platform signifies your intentions to grow with the community. How important is that for every business?

It is of utmost importance. The fundamental responsibility of any business is to gain the trust of the community. Rizek has been successful in garnering the trust of its consumers in a very short period. We are considered to be reliable and dependable.

There are two reasons for this opinion; one is because we provide efficient and affordable service and the other is the fact that our business is about growing with the community and influencing them positively as we move ahead. Any business that does not put consumers and the community at the center of its vision and day to day operations will perish sooner or later.

Rizek’s leadership meets frequently to ensure the smooth functioning of operations while keeping up with the dynamic nature of consumer demand.

How do you analyze the situation of digital businesses in GCC during and after the pandemic? How well will they be able to sustain?

The pandemic has taught us several lessons. The internet has helped us to try and lead our lives in minimal normalcy. It has helped us stay connected. We have witnessed the growth of virtual schooling, e-tuitions, on-call service providers like grocery, salon professionals and much more. So, it is sure that digital businesses are going to flourish.

I feel that access to the market may be harder for new entrepreneurs but they can definitely overcome this with a little extra effort. They would need to ensure that the solution they are providing is unique and one can only understand what the customer needs with a thorough study of the market. It’s all about utilizing the opportunities. Strive to be highly competitive, plan and equip yourself well or failure will be unavoidable.

Even after the pandemic, I believe that the entrepreneurs who are already in the market will have a great opportunity to capitalize and expand as long as they keep themselves agile, adaptive and continue to analyze the situation in the market.

We all keep saying that the future is digital, but the statistics seem to suggest that otherwise. According to the World Economic Forum Report, almost half of the world’s population does not have access to the internet. What do you have to say about this?

The statistics by the World Economic Forum may be right, but I believe that development is a process that continues to happen and so is growth. Today, internet accessibility around the world is so much better compared to a decade earlier. In 2005 only 16% of the world population had access to the internet but by 2017 it had risen to 48%. In 2019, it was 50%. Things have been improving greatly, year over year adoption of digital technology has been on the rise.

So, the statistics will change in the coming years and everyone will have access to the internet which, in turn, will definitely increase the scope for digital businesses. The past was not digital, but the future certainly is.

How do you think has the pandemic affected the startups? How will they be able to overcome the problems they are facing?

Yes, a majority of start-ups have definitely been affected by the loss of business amid COVID-19. But it is heartening to see that policymakers in GCC particularly in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Bahrain and Oman are putting a great effort in aiding start-ups both financially and otherwise.

I was happy to know about Abu Dhabi Investment Office infusing $5 million in the Bedaya Fund to provide a lifeline to start-ups. Such measures are essential to the ecosystem. Banks are also making significant investments to support them. Even global investors are thinking long term. I’m sure we can see positive reflections of these efforts in the region over the next 6 months.

The operational floor at Rizek’s Abu Dhabi Office has witnessed several crucial decision-making moments

More than 100 tech start-ups launch every month in GCC which makes it 1200 news initiatives per year. What are some of the measures that they can take to survive, according to you?

Entrepreneurship is a challenging profession hence the entrepreneur should be a challenging person. There will be no shortage of obstacles in the path. Study the market well and know your competitors. You should analyze your market 24×7 and pick up even the slightest beats. Your research and development department should be extremely active and should contribute to a bigger percentage of your success. Most important of all, please make sure that you understand your customer and provide them a service they actually need. Rizek has been well planned from the very beginning and the service we provide is highly essential to the customers. So, the qualities required to survive can be summed up as adaptability, agility, and customer obsessiveness.

But one must always remember that every business is unique and the probability of success is equal to the probability of failure.

What would be your word of advice to young entrepreneurs?

“Learn by doing” is the greatest piece of advice that I have ever received. But ensure that you study things comprehensively before heading out into something and then learn more while doing it.

What are some of the changes that you wish to see in the technology sector of the UAE?

The IT Department of the UAE government is one of the best in the world. The technological advancements delivered by UAE are par excellence compared to any other Asian country. We are far ahead in terms of technology in all sectors. Look at our energy, tourism and automobile sectors. Yet, very little of it is fully explored/utilized by our  entrepreneurs. It is important to take full advantage of these opportunities that are open to them.

We need to have entrepreneurs who provide innovative solutions that take it from 0 to 1, which means that they need to introduce their service or solution in a sector where there are none. I have observed that most of the start-ups go from 1 to 10 where they do not innovate a solution, instead they just scale an existing service from which would be like going from 1 to 10.

What are your hopes for your business and GCC in a post-pandemic world?

Rizek too has faced the effects of the pandemic but we do not believe it to be a long-term issue. We just need to be optimistic about tomorrow and not give up on our dreams.

Personally, I don’t think there is anything to worry about. UAE and its people have faced and overcome greater challenges in the past. We have mastered them with our fighting spirits which formed the glorious UAE that we see now.

We have been ranked 9th in the world for global competitiveness and are 11th in the world in terms of safety, security, health, and social and economic stability. UAE will recover quickly as we have a solid foundation that cannot be shaken easily.

As Rizek continues to soar new heights and expand to new regions, the number of lives they touch and bring change is also bound to increase. With professional service and a commitment to excel at its core, startups like Rizek are a beacon of hope and optimism to the younger generation of entrepreneurs to learn and innovate in an increasingly challenging and profit-driven economic landscape.

#LiveWithOptimism Campaign

As a NewAge Media, GCC Business News believes that it is our responsibility and long-term commitment to uplift the discouraged society amid the spreading pandemic with relevant initiatives. We are proud to share our #LiveWithOptimism campaign with our readers which intends to radiate optimism and belief within the community (inclusive of business stakeholders) to upscale, innovate and adapt to overcome any present and future challenges in life.

Backed by relevant insights and economic perspectives of regional and global changemakers at organizations across the world, the initiative will provide you with an optimistic outlook on the current socio-economic landscape.