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Kutayba Alghanim… Head of Thought Leadership, Kuwait

Name: Kutayba Alghanim

Nationality: Kuwait

Company: Ghanim Industries

Wealth: $1.4 billion

The hurricane-ravaged his company but did not blow away his ideas. Rather it enlightened his path to success and gave him the impetus to penetrate the world’s markets, relying on an effective strategy. He is Kutayba Alghanim from Kuwait, Executive Chairman of the Ghanim Industries Group, the wealthiest person in Kuwait according to Forbes Rich List. How does his success story inspire other entrepreneurs?


Kutayba Alghanim was born in Kuwait; He spent most of his childhood in his motherland before travelling with his family to the United Kingdom to complete his education in Gordonstoun, Scotland.

He grew up in a family that attaches importance to education and believes it to be a key driver for business success. His father, the owner of Yusuf Alghanim & Sons company which was established in the 1930s – was honored with the title “Sir” in the United Kingdom following his successful brokering as an intermediary for the first oil concession between Anglo-Persian company and the Emir of Kuwait.

Foundation of Ghanim Group

Kutayba Alghanim, together with his father and grandfather, laid the foundation of the Ghanim Industrial Group. The company specialized in pearl trading and achieved significant success. It has become one of the top pearl providers in Kuwait.

In the late 1960s, Alghanim joined the University of California at Berkeley. This influenced his views on business and education.

In 1970, after earning his Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Berkeley, Alghanim returned to Kuwait to establish his own company, named El-Dar, his first experience in the world of entrepreneurship in the high-end furniture business. He focused on customer service which raised the quality of products and services in Kuwait, setting new standards for companies in the region.

Alghanim did not give up his family’s dream in the industrial group after the hurricane struck the entire company. He decided to resume work and found a new opportunity after noting Kuwait’s growing need for construction materials. He founded a timber trading company and was able to succeed again.

Effective Strategy

Alghanim was able to take an unconventional course of action when his father requested his assistance to solve the family’s liquidity crisis. Alghanim solved the crisis and provided additional funding. The company recorded significant sales during that period. As a result, his father appointed him as the managing director of Youssef Alghanim & Son’s Company in 1971.

Alghanim adopted a Western-style management structure, using decentralized decision-making processes. Later, the group was classified as a diverse multinational company that succeeded locally and globally. It also established marketing cooperation and strategic alliances with the largest international companies in order to expand their operations.

Al Ghanim Group became the first company in Kuwait to own a mainframe computer in the early 1970s. It introduced a modern business culture that updates the company. It also encouraged feedback at work, constructive professional criticism and urged employees to present their ideas with great freedom. This facilitated a distinctive work environment and remarkable dedication. Hence the company was able to attain greater success.

Family Legacy

Over time, Alghanim obtained his father’s approval to change the name of the group from “Youssef al-Ghanim and Sons”, to “Ghanim Industries”. He then added new sections: diversification of business and expansion in the region by inking deals with global brands.

The company was interested in several areas which included: advertising and media, auto sales and services, home construction products, consumer credit, consumer electronics retail, consumer engineering, wholesale and distribution consumer goods, food, and drink, home furniture retail, insurance, office automation, oil and gas, project engineering, freight, and transportation, as well as travel arrangements.

Currently, “Ghanim Industries” sells General Motors and Ford cars in Kuwait.  It also owns an electricity distribution company and Wendy’s restaurants in the Middle East. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious Arab companies in the region; it has more than 30 companies in 40 different countries and deals with more than 300 international brands and agencies.

In 2003, Alghanim converted family property in Lebanon into an orphanage in honor of his parents. His brother Bassam al-Ghanim struggled to keep the company’s legacy of culture and commerce alive.

With a fortune exceeding $1 billion, Alghanim joined Forbes’ List of Richest Business People in the World, becoming the only representative of Kuwait on the list.

Lessons learned

  • Quality education: Scientific culture influences the entrepreneur’s path to his future career. This is reflected on his company and its competitiveness.
  • Flexible approach: An entrepreneur must develop a different approach, with sufficient flexibility to cope with the circumstances surrounding its work and to set clear standards for his project.
  • Winning the hearts of employees: Alghanim put more effort to win the hearts and minds of employees; he gave them the freedom to express their views at work. This contributed to increased productivity.
  • Creative thinking: he adopted a Western-style management structure, used decentralized decision-making processes, and classified the group as a multinational firm.

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