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  • Writer's pictureAnkit yadav

Ahmed Janabi, CEO at Harf

Great Companies: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Ahmed Janabi: Iraq is a 40 million population country with polarised politically-polluted media. Seeing how the public is negatively affected by media needs a stance by local people to have their word in both digital and traditional press. The idea was to create an independent local company to provide services for companies and individuals who want to communicate adequately with the media.

As Iraqis have lived through the wars, sanctions, and the rise of ISIS. We have seen the effects of political and media polarisation on the public, and I believe it is crucial to have a voice or, better said: a “remote control”. It is in this spirit that Harf was created: to encourage people and brands to speak up when they see injustice or unfairness and to use their voices to make positive changes for themselves and others.

The concept was born from my personal experience as an entrepreneur and my five years of experience working in the fields of medicine and youth engagement before uplifting Harf’s advertising company. Harf was a traditional family business that we worked to develop into the one & only local communications agency in Iraq.

I saw first-hand how difficult it was for people to get their voices heard in Iraq because of all the corruption going on within the media outlets at the time, and so I decided that something had to be done about it!

Great Companies: What are the various services provided by Harf?

Ahmed Janabi: Harf provides a wide range of services, including marketing communications, public relations, event management, reputation management, crisis management, creative management, digital and legacy media buying, on-ground activation, lobbying and trendsetting. Our team of professionals is committed to providing you with the highest ‘possible’ levels of expertise in each of these areas so that you can be sure your business is well represented in the industry. We help our clients build their brands through different forms of communication and engagement. We mainly focus on public relations, lobbying and trendsetting.

Public relations—we help our clients manage their public image by ensuring that they’re always putting their best foot forward. This includes crisis management, reputation management, and creative management. We also work with our clients to set the tone for their brand, so it’s always consistent across all media.

Event management—we make event planning easy! We take care of everything from venue selection to booking entertainment and speakers. We even have in-house AV equipment that is low-key enough to fit into any budget or theme but high-end sufficient to impress clients.

Reputation management—as a company, we believe that our clients’ reputations should always be at the forefront of what we do. So, we use every opportunity we get to promote them in a positive light, whether it’s through social media or traditional media outlets.

Crisis management—when things don’t go according to plan, we’re there for you! Whether it’s an emergency press release or helping you recover from a scandalous situation, we’ve got your back 24/7 so that you can focus on what really matters most: your customers and employees!

Great Companies: What makes Harf different from hundreds of other similar service providers?

Ahmed Janabi: The answer is the mindset, philosophy, hard work, and passion.

Harf’s mindset is that we are service providers, not go-get companies. We believe that our job isn’t just to provide services to our clients—it’s to make them feel like they’re part of a family.

Our philosophy is simple: do what you say you’ll do when you say it will be done. We believe that when you do this consistently, trust builds between our clients and us. The more trust we have with them, the more they will want to work with us again and again because they know we can be counted on when it matters most.

Hard work comes naturally to us—we’re always striving to improve ourselves and our services so that we can continue to meet the needs of our clients over time while also staying competitive in an ever-changing industry landscape. Passion fuels everything we do at Harf—we are passionate about helping people succeed in their careers by providing them with the tools needed for success.

That meant working hard at understanding what they needed and spending hours making sure that everything was perfect before handing it off. It meant staying up late on weekends and holidays just so that we could get everything done—because we knew it would make a difference for our clients. And it meant having an open mind about new ideas or processes that might help us become even better than we already are.

Harf’s passion for their clients and their devotion to their craft show in every product they make. It is clear that they are not just doing this for money or fame, but because they love what they do and want to see people enjoy their products as much as they do!

Great Companies: What are the struggles and challenges you face?

Ahmed Janabi: One of the biggest challenges I faced when relaunching Harf was convincing clients that local minds could work better than big foreign companies in Iraq because local talents understand locals. People believed that only large corporations possessed the resources and power to deliver effective solutions, so I had to overcome this hurdle by proving them wrong. The other challenge was that people did not value the time spent on their accounts. Hiring a great team means investing more than what clients pay for, but they do not see it as an investment—they see it as a cost. The industry has been a challenge since the beginning. It is not just about the work, but it is about proving to clients that local minds can do better than what big companies do.

The other challenge is that people do not value your time, especially when you are working with them for free. Hiring a great team means investing more than what clients pay for; this does not happen overnight. It takes time to prove everything but eventually, nobody knows Iraq better than the people living inside it.

Great Companies: How do you plan to grow in the future? What do 5 years down the line look like for Harf?

Ahmed Janabi: In the future, I see Harf as an entirely decentralised company. We are already on the path to doing this, but I’d like for it to be a partially decentralised entity within 5 years.

We will also be expanding into AI and metaverse technology moving forward. We’ll partner with tech companies in those fields to help us reach our goals of improving our users’ experiences and making them more immersive.

In the future, we see ourselves in a metaverse where every platform is on the blockchain. It’s a world where data is more secure, and users have more control over their own information. It’s also a world where we can create our virtual realities, be they social media or gaming platforms. We think this will allow us to reach out to people who traditional media would otherwise leave behind.

Harf is developing a new social media platform that will be the first to use blockchain technology. We believe that media was the first industry to be decentralised, and we’re building our platform to reflect that.

Great Companies: If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Ahmed Janabi: If I had to give one piece of advice to someone just starting out in the field, it would be this: Go the hard way. Never try to find shortcuts! Shortcuts will eventually come your way if you persevere.

The more you invest in yourself and your skills, the better off you’ll be in the long run. And it’s not just about what you do; it’s about who you do it for. The more people you work with, the more connections you make, and the more opportunities you have to work with them again later on down the road.

It’s easy to get caught up in doing things that will pay off immediately—and sometimes they will! But if something doesn’t pay off right away, remember that it might be later down the line when your career is taking off. And even if it doesn’t come back around again… who cares? The point is that these relationships you’ve built along the way will last forever.

Go the hard way. Never try to find shortcuts. The more you invest in yourself, the better your relations, not the other way around. Life is short: Always be authentic.



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