Ibrahim Anwar

10 mins read

Mr. Ibrahim Anwar, Managing Director of Island Beverages Maldives Pvt Ltd, speaks with Hotel Insider about the company’s goal of providing safe and high-quality drinking water to the Maldives.

The interview highlights the company’s strengths and key areas of focus in the coming years. Furthermore, it sheds light on the importance the company places on environmental preservation and its efforts to become eco-friendly.

Hotel Insider: Could you talk about your main areas of focus for the coming year?

Ibrahim Anwar: Let me start by saying that IBM is now a teenager, having passed through the most critical stages of development. Nonetheless, I believe we must continue to grow in order to stand tall in this industry. The most significant change that has taken place at IBM is that we are moving towards being a more independent company whereby we are in the early stages of walking alone. This is a huge challenge for me because I am the first full time MD appointed by the government to run this company. Thus, taking advantage of this opportunity, I believe that now’s the time to run this company autonomously. Our primary focus in the coming years will be to diversify our product portfolio because the challenges of dealing with a single product line are vast. We are dominant in the greater Male’ region because our manufacturing & distribution fleet is based in the capital city. However, due to the geographical dispersion of islands in the Maldives it is not feasible for us to transfer water to outer islands considering the narrow profit margin. Moving forward, expanding our portfolio to include fast moving beverages which can be bundled with water will be one of our main objectives.

Having a reliable team is undoubtedly the most important aspect of any successful business. I am proud to say that we have the largest, most efficient, and dedicated distribution fleet in the Greater Male’ region. Due to the scarcity of space in the retail sector, the distribution of water becomes a challenge to our team since the customer anticipates express delivery which is our main target. We have partnered with MIFCO to supply their canned tuna products alongside ours to capitalize on the strengths of our industry leading distribution fleet. So, what I envisage is establishing similar partnerships with other government and private companies as a delivery partner to distribute their fast-moving food-related products to the customers along with ours.

Being an ISO certified company entails a significant amount of responsibility. Given the nature of our operations, continuously maintaining the quality and level of services provided is a challenge. However, to keep our customers satisfied, we are frequently working on creating and implementing new strategies for the improvement of our services.

The environment is undeniably very important to all of us. It is the moral duty of each and every individual to keep it safe. Being in an industry that only produces single-use plastic comes with additional responsibilities. That is why, we have launched a separate campaign called “TaZa Veshi” through which numerous awareness programs will be held in the capital city and the outer islands, supporting us in our efforts to reduce the environmental effects caused by single-use plastic.

Our aim is to be able to reach every single household in the Maldives. This can be achieved by the diversification of our product portfolio and by increasing our existing island agents operating as our business partners, supplying our water to the entire country.

Hotel Insider: How do you ensure that the water we are drinking is safe and hygienic?

Ibrahim Anwar: Maintaining a high level of quality has been a top priority since the inception of TAZA. We have ISO 9001, ISO 22000, and HACCP certifications from management to the manufacturing process. Obtaining these standards is not an easy task. It is subjected to quarterly audits to ensure that our processes meet the required standards.

Focusing on our production process, our source water is the pre-treated water provided by MWSC which goes through a 2nd stage reverse osmosis system. The water is purified further, and this pre-treated source water is passed through an ultra-violet purification system, which removes 99.99% of harmful microorganisms. We chose UV disinfection, a physical process, over chemical disinfection methods because it has no residual effect on aquatic and human life. Following UV disinfection, the water is routed through an ozonation system for additional disinfection, flavour enhancement, and odour removal. Just after ozonation, a proprietary blend of minerals is dosed to adjust the taste of the water to the preferences of the Maldivian customers. Finally, it is fed into a three-stage microfiltration system that removes extra fine particles smaller than 0.5 microns. Particles that cannot be seen visually are thus filtered out and removed.

Our 5G and glass returnable bottles go through a multi-step disinfection process that includes washing and sterilizing with high-quality disinfectants. We also pay close attention to packaging to avoid external contamination. Since our raw materials are imported from other countries, we ensure that the materials directly used in our end products, such as bottle caps, go through a fully automated process, with no physical contact from production to packing to unpacking at our facility.

It doesn’t stop there. We make sure that each batch of water delivered to our customers meets the ISO standards. To ensure this, each batch is subjected to rigorous chemical and microbiological testing both on-site and at an external laboratory. Distribution begins only after we receive approval from the quality assurance team. Considering these factors, I cannot agree with the assertion that all water tastes the same.

Hotel Insider: We are in a transition phase and are moving away from plastic. What are your thoughts on this, and how are you helping us move towards a greener future?

Ibrahim Anwar: As mentioned earlier, we do understand the damage that plastic is causing to the environment and intend to gradually move to other alternatives. It’s not an easy task given the geographic characteristics of the Maldives. The alternatives are prohibitively expensive, not only in terms of materials but also in terms of logistics. As a result, we launched the ‘Taza Veshi’ campaign, which will allow us to take an active role in preserving and protecting our environment. The most recent initiatives we have implemented are the introduction of returnable glass bottles of 0.5 litre, 1 litre and 19 litre, which is the Taza 5G bottles.

Hotel Insider: You’re supplying glass bottles to resorts, right? Is it with water?

Ibrahim Anwar: Yes, we supply returnable glass bottles and yes, it does come with water.

Hotel Insider: Is it cheaper for them than having their own RO bottling plant?

Ibrahim Anwar: It is possible that having their own RO bottling facility may be considerably cheaper for them. However, ensuring the safety and quality of the water is a big part of our identity. As an ISO certified company, we adhere to certain internationally recognized quality standards which ensure that the water we supply to our customers are of the highest quality.

The returned water bottles are washed and disinfected prior to being refilled. The stages of washing & disinfecting are a thorough process which emphasizes on the extensive measures taken to ensure the safety and quality of water. Thus, having their own semi-automated plant in the resort may be inexpensive, the question is whether it will ensure the quality and safety of drinking water.

Hotel Insider: Where do you see the company in five years?

Ibrahim Anwar: My vision for IBM is to make this company the leading beverage company in the Maldives, supplying and distributing various types of beverages and other fast-moving food items throughout the Maldives. A company that has tripled its assets, sales, and profits. Furthermore, my goal is to make IBM one of the most respected and prestigious companies in the country, attracting talented and experienced employees.