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Money and me: Only plan for the short-term

Serial entrepreneur and investor Khaldoon Tabaza says he was never motivated by money - success always came first.
Khaldoon Tabaza is the founder and managing director of iMENA. Christopher Pike / The National
Khaldoon Tabaza is the founder and managing director of iMENA. Christopher Pike / The National

Khaldoon Tabaza is the founder and managing director of iMENA, an operator of online businesses in the Middle East and North Africa region, including OpenSooq and SellAnyCar. Mr Tabaza, 44, from Jordan, has founded and invested in several technology and media businesses over the past 20 years.

Describe your financial journey so far.

My first sense of ownership came with the equity I had in my first business, a publishing company I started immediately after university in 1995, which published the Arabic edition of Byte magazine and then evolved in 1997 into Between 2000, when I left, and 2005, I went through several evolutions as an angel investor, a founder and an investment manager, until I came back to my roots as an entrepreneur with Riyada Ventures, which was acquired by Abraaj Group in 2009, bringing me full circle to the internet business with iMENA Group. Throughout my journey, I was more motivated by success than financials.

Are you a spender or saver?

Definitely a spender. I believe in investing in one’s business, one’s self, and family, more than saving. I’m a big risk-taker when it comes to saving for the near term, versus investing in the long term. Money loses value with time, all the time. I believe in seeing the impact of funds that one has on his lifestyle, family and business, and in leveraging any liquidity to grow the businesses, achieve more productivity and feel the rewards of hard work.

What is your philosophy towards money?

Money comes and goes, but relationships, people and success stay forever. Therefore I am more of a relationship-driven person than a transaction-driven person. If one is comfortable with regards to ethics, relationship, reputation and knowledge, then money will come. Money is not the only measure of success; I find more joy and satisfaction when I am in a position to give away money, be it an investment or philanthropy. The best ‘money’ for me is the one that works for society, rather than the banks.

Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?

Of course. I have made some investments in ships that sank, and lost time and effort prioritising a safe and stable income, versus long-term gains from taking risks. I have also made bets on people who let me down, resulting in significant financial losses, but I never regret any decision that I made. I try not to worry, using a simple principle that if a concern is within your authority and capability, then you should not worry because you have the power to address it. If it’s outside of your capabilities and authority then you should not worry either because there is nothing that you can do about it.

If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?

I would spend Dh100,000 taking a vacation with my family and invest the rest in iMENA Group.

What has been your best investment?

Business-wise, certainly iMENA Group. But the best investment ever will always be in one’s self and one’s family.

Do you plan for the future?

I don’t believe in planning beyond three years in today’s world. Every now and then, I sit back and look at where I am – business-wise, personally and family-wise – and plan for the next six to 12 months. In between, I never hesitate to pivot, review and change my plans. More than ever, it is very difficult to have long-term plans, and becoming fixated on one that is in isolation of one’s environment and this world that changes every day can be a fatal mistake.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

Time with the family. I also spend on my home, office and home office, and of course on technology and gadgets.

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Published: February 6, 2015 04:00 AM


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