It’s not every day that a Libyan comes to Bremen to start a company. But Tamim Fannoush has good reasons for choosing this Hanseatic trading city as the base for his European business – and they are not purely commercial.
Tamim Fannoush is one of nature’s optimists. Always smiling, he welcomes visitors with an irresistible warmth. Is he so cheerful because he is currently in Bremen? “Whenever I come to Bremen I feel like I am visiting old friends,” says the 35-year-old Libyan. “I like the people here – they are very friendly and always willing to help. And I especially like the nightlife!”
Fannoush is a logistics specialist and general manager of Samawat Maritime LLC, a company specialising in the importation of container and project cargo that is based in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
He first visited Bremen in 2015. On that occasion he had come to meet his friend and business partner Hauke Weidemann, Commercial Manager for Germany at the logistics company F.H. Bertling Logistics. Bertling and Samawat have been working together in the import/export business since 2014.
His visits to Bremen convinced him of the merits of the city – so much so that in February 2019 he set up Samawat GmbH here. The decision to establish his own company in Germany reflects the growth of his business over recent years. “We want to provide our customers in Europe with an even quicker and more reliable service in future,” explains Fannoush. “Our site in Bremen gives us an ideal base, as the city has excellent logistics infrastructure.”
Although Libya is five times the size of Germany, it has a population of just 6.5 million. Following a number of crisis-stricken years, the economy is now growing strongly – up 17 per cent in the last year alone. Libya has Africa’s largest oil reserves, and the energy sector is one of the most important pillars of the economy. It is very important to Fannoush, too, who employs twelve staff in Tripoli. “There is a huge demand in the oil industry for imported goods such as valves, transformers and tools. But we are also active in the power supply, telecommunications and – perhaps surprisingly – pet food sectors,” says Fannoush.
Fannoush comes to Bremen twice a year to explore new business opportunities with his German business partner Weidemann. “This arrangement works really well and business is booming. And of course I’m always very happy to see Tamim,” says Weidemann, from Bertling Logistics. They hope to focus even more strongly on offering services together in future and making it easier for customers all over Europe to export to Libya. “We need personal contacts to grow the business,” agrees Fannoush, “and maintaining such relationships requires a local presence.”
He relied on the support of Bremeninvest when setting up his company. The team worked out a detailed plan that enabled him to complete all the necessary formalities within a week – from applying to join the chamber of commerce and visiting tax advisors to finding a bank, a notary, and an office in Bremen’s World Trade Center.
Fannoush already has his next visit planned, and has timed it to coincide with Breakbulk 2019 in May. The trade fair for the break bulk and project cargo industry is a firm fixture in his diary, and has been for many years. He is especially pleased that Breakbulk was held in Bremen for the first time last year. “Last year’s Breakbulk was fantastic – no comparison with its previous home in Antwerp. And I’m sure it’ll be superb this year too,” says Fannoush. With his Bremen-based company, he is now ideally placed to take advantage.
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