By Hubert Vaz
Injaz Oman winners gear up for Injaz al Arab with a unique product that’s in great demand
A group of nine promising students of Higher College of Technology, who recently formed Mahya – a student company that bagged top honours at the grand finale of the Injaz Oman Student Company Programme and Competition in June – is now gearing up to make its mark at Injaz al Arab, the regional finals to be held in November.
The students impressed the judges in Oman with their innovative idea of producing fish feed, a commodity with high demand among fish farmers in Oman, but still being imported in huge quantities. They hope to cater to the demand in Oman as well as the region in the near future. Their product – Prozolla – has been created for fish bred by fish farmers, ornamental fish, as well as redeared turtles.
Mahya, which was adjudged the ‘Best Student Company 2019’ in the colleges and universities category, has already started production at a facility at Bandar al Rowdha wherein fish farmers regularly visit to procure large batches of the feed, which has a life of around six months.
The students take turns to keep the business rolling as well as have assumed various roles in the company to handle all aspects of production.
Mahya has bagged a two-year purchase contract with one of the largest fish farming companies in Oman which has helped in commercialising the product and boosting its presence in the market, Yumna Mahmood al Shaqsi, operations manager and director of research and development, told TheWeek.
“For now, the company is focusing on the fish feed market. The sustainable fish feed – Prozolla – is for freshwater fish and red-eared turtles. Our company has nine active members covering production, human resource, marketing, research and development and finance departments,” she said, pointing out that currently Oman has to depend on imports. “The fisheries sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country and Prozolla will help meet the local demand, thereby contributing to the economy and ensuring food security of Oman. Our aim is to ensure that Oman becomes self-sufficient to meet the future fish feed demand.”
Yumna further said that company members worked day and many sleepless nights, and the hard work paid off. “Having a team that works together like a family is the real victory.”
The company is working towards improving its product further with continuous testing.
Fatma Khalifa al Amri, director, financial affairs department, said all members of Mahya are gearing up for Injaz al Arab and are confident of winning the contest because they have a unique product to offer for this part of the world.
They have been holding weekly meetings to get well-acquainted with the entire production process as well as to train themselves to make a good presentation at the regional contest.
“This contest is not just about presenting a good product, but also a complete business proposal which includes concept, research, marketing activity, financial planning as well as getting the target audience to believe in the product,” Fatma said, adding that all members of the team are unitedly contributing to its success and looking forward to some day work together in their own company that was born during their college days. The students of Higher College of Technology are in different years of study and of different disciplines but, when put together as a group for the contest, they demonstrated a unique coordination which saw them come forth with a good business proposal.
They spent several weeks researching to find out which product was much-needed, but was not being made in Oman.
Made from locally procured fishmeal, wheat bran, oil and other ingredients, Prozolla has been tested with fish (Tilapia) and found to be a nutritious feed that also enhances the health of fresh water fish in Oman. It takes a few hours to produce a few hundred kilograms with all members working at top speed to see the ingredients being ground, processed and formed into tiny pellets which are dried and collected into sacks in a single unit at the Marine Fisheries Centre.
Fatma said that followng Prozolla’s success, the company plans to conduct further research and produce feed for cattle in Oman as its next step. But for now, the focus is on the upcoming contest, and if they bag the top spot, it will give them a shot in the arm to go ahead full steam in consolidating their company.
The Mahya team
Fatma Khalifa al Amri
Yumna Mahmood al Shaqsi
Mustafa Nabi GulMohammed
Sundus Ishaq al Namaani
Mutaz Abdulaziz al Dughaishi
Fatma Ali al Battashi
Nasser Ahmed al Kharusi
Aziza Abdullah al Murjibi
Othman Ali al Amri
Fatma al Amri
This contest is not just about presenting a good product, but also a complete business proposal which includes concept, research, marketing activity, financial planning and getting the target audience to believe in the product.
Mustafa Nabi GulMohammed
Our preparations for Injaz al Arab are aimed at enhancing our product and we are confident of winning it because we have a sustainable idea. The strong points are locally procured raw materials and the use of a special plant powder that boosts immunity of the fish.
Yumna Mahmood al Shaqsi
The fisheries sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country and Prozolla will help meet the local demand, thereby contributing to the economy and ensuring food security of Oman.