Bpifrance Sends Afaco and 11 Other Companies in Dubai for an Immersive Mission “Explore & Match”

Last November, Bpifrance organized its “Explore & Match” mission in Dubai surrounding City 4.0 opportunities. Afaco is one of the 12 companies involved in sustainable development that took part in this expedition between the 1st and the 4th of November 2021. Founder Moayad Harb tells us more about his experience there.

Make people’s life easier by improving their home comfort and decreasing their energy bills. This is one of the many goals of Afaco, specialist in renovation and energy optimization of buildings. Founder Moayad Harb was reflecting on the diversification of his Parisian company when he came across this Explore & Match mission. It is part of the 6 international missions’ typologies that Bpifrance sets up to accompany entrepreneurs in their worldwide development. It offers an on-field experience with qualified business meetings with potential partners, after months of warm-up including webinars, creation of an English website, and reflection on a presentation pitch in English to prepare entrepreneurs for their B2B meetings. A rich program which “is really time-saving” according to Moayad Harb, coming back from this business trip in Dubai.

 

A mission to better understand local realities

Even before participating in this mission, Afaco was already aware of some of Dubai characteristics. “While French people consume a lot to heat their homes, people in hot countries have the opposite problematic. But the challenge remains the same for us: how can we optimize a building to keep it warm or cool and to make it autonomous in terms of energy consumption?” The company was already thinking about going in Middle East when they came across this mission operated by Bpifrance and with the support of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in UAE. An opportunity he didn't let slip through his fingers. During the 4-day mission, between best practices exchanges with other French exporters already operating in the region and visit of the Expo Dubai 2020, the B2B meetings with some companies’ top management were crucial for Afaco to make itself known. “They give me advice; I could grasp the constraints of the area to better adapt my offer. I would never have had access to this type of information from France and I would have probably spent a large sum of money to develop an offer that wouldn’t have been the good one,” explains Moayad Harb.

 

France at the leading edge of innovation in energy optimization

Even though the 12 companies that took part in the mission are all operating in the same sector and have potentially similar clients, they do not provide overlapping solutions. “It allows us to develop synergies. We exchange advice, we make friends: it's a very positive ecosystem”. And Dubai doesn’t lack opportunities when it comes to sustainable development for French companies. In energy optimization of buildings, France benefits from a long experience of regulations that French entrepreneurs had time to take in hand. Which is not the case for Dubai companies. “It’s normal” says Moayad Harb, “Most buildings in the city are not even 10 years old; the UAE was formed 50 years ago. The first regulations in France date from the same period”.  A characteristic that offers many opportunities for French companies to bring their innovations, offer their expertise and start a technology transfer process.

Moayad Harb didn’t come back with new contracts, but it wasn’t his objectives. “It was first and foremost a mission of exploration to determine what our know-how was worth in the area.” With new KPIs and Dubai entrepreneurs that are now convinced by his innovations, Afaco founder is more than ever determined to reach the area by June 2022. The company is already looking forward to future opportunities, especially in countries where regulations on sustainable development already exist. “This is the case for some countries in Africa, where there is a real need for this kind of projects and where we hope to be able to set up. If Bpifrance organizes a mission in our field over there, we'll definitely go!”