Cedar Rose, an award-winning Business Intelligence agency, was originally established in the UK in 1997 and operating in Lebanon since 2004 and Cyprus since 2007. Its CEO, Antoun Massaad, considering the company’s establishment in Limassol a wise choice (for both personal and business reasons) speaks about his experience in the city’s environment.
Working with clients in export credit insurance companies, financial institutions, government agencies, audit firms, lawyers, investigative journalists, globally known exporters and technology platforms, SMEs and several other information providers, the head of Cedar Rose talks about the advantages and disadvantages of using Limassol as a base for the company’s activities in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
1. Why did you choose Limassol, Cyprus for your company’s headquarters?
We chose Limassol for a multitude of reasons, both business and personal. Firstly, it is a great place to live with a warm climate and a low crime rate. From a business point of view, for a company serving clients around the world, it is perfectly placed logistically – with a great sea port and marina, less than one hour from two international airports and in the perfect time zone for a company like Cedar Rose which is providing services to the East and to the East and is continuously communicating with the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
2. Would you describe Cyprus as a Middle Eastern country or as a European one?
Cyprus is uniquely placed geographically between the Arabic countries and Europe. It absorbs the culture from both sides, giving it the modernity and tradition of both the Middle East and of Europe. I would describe it as a cosmopolitan country where you can live and work in a peaceful and fairly modern society and still enjoy traditional values around food, hospitality, family and business. As a Lebanese-British national it is my perfect environment.
3. Are there any issues that need to be solved?
As the population of Limassol in particular is so multicultural, there could be more help with guiding businesses as to where to look for advice, business support, training and funding. If this support is available, I believe it is not communicated well enough, especially to the large community that are non-Greek speakers.
4. Does the Limassol Chamber of Commerce and Industry have a facilitating role?
The Chamber of Commerce does do a great job with regards to providing the opportunity for networking, but it would be good to see more reaching out to the business community to offer support and guidance. We have seen many small businesses come and go due to poor planning or lack of access to financing during our time here – and it is those small businesses today that could be the major employers of the next decade and who contribute largely to the local economy.
5. Starting from research and investigation services, in what other activities is your company involved?
Mostly, Cedar Rose conducts research and investigation services for KYC and credit risk assessment, due diligence and risk mitigation. We hold the largest database of company, director and shareholder information for the Middle East, Africa and Asia, which is linked and searchable in both Arabic and English. Also, because we have advanced technical capabilities, we offer electronic identity verification checks and supply data to large organizations via subscriptions or an API to our database enabling client authentication and verification in real time.
6. What are your most significant achievements so far?
Our biggest achievement at Cedar Rose is creating a business which facilitates secure trade between the MENA region and the rest of the world and which now covers 170 countries for KYC and credit reporting so that is also a major milestone. Also, having the largest business intelligence database for the region – currently over 10 million companies – is something I am also very proud of. It has taken a lot of hard work, intelligence and determination from many people who work with us to get to this stage.
From a personal point of view, employing people both in Cyprus and Lebanon, and providing personal development, travel opportunities and a carrier for them which they may otherwise not have had, gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
7. What are your plans for the future?
Continued stable growth for Cedar Rose and the services we are offering and becoming the world’s most reliable, most comprehensive and largest Business Intelligence provider.