By Sharmila Ganapathy
Daud Ahmad knows a thing or two about taking risks. After all, he co-founded Cypark Resources Berhad at a time when the domestic market didn’t really know or care about environmental businesses. “When we first started we were involved in landscaping projects in Cyberjaya and Putrajaya, together with the Palm Jumeirah project in Dubai. In early 2000, the local market wasn’t ready then for the environmental business. But it was part of our strategy to be involved in the environmental business. The concept was very new then. We were given the challenge of delivering projects, so we formed a company to form turnkey integrated solutions for a local client,” he explains.
Daud (pic), who is also the group chief executive officer of Cypark, officially started the company as it is today with co-founder and company chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail in 2001.
“The years 2001- 2007 saw the implementation of the Waste Management Act, the Renewable Energy Act and the revision of the Environmental Quality Act which created a new scenario for us to enter into the environmental and waste management business. Everyone was talking about global warming, greenhouse gases and carbon credits. Public listed companies also started doing their part for sustainability and the environment. The business of environment had become a major industry, both locally and globally. There was a demand for environmental solutions and Cypark had the capability and track record to provide such services,” he says.
He explains that Cypark became a fully integrated environmental services provider circa 2005, coinciding with global trends and market readiness. He proudly adds that Cypark is currently the only company in South East Asia to provide integrated environmental services. Among the services it provides are integrated renewable energy generation (solar, biogas, biomass, waste-to-energy), integrated waste management solutions, environmental remediation, scientific closure and remediation of contaminated land through its internally developed technology and landfill restoration.
“Because of the uniqueness of our value proposition, we’ve seen steady growth of the company over the years. In the first year, we experienced modest growth worth a few million ringgit in terms of business. Today, the business is worth a few hundred million ringgit,” he says, adding that the company has invested some RM500 million in renewable energy to date, and over the next three years the plan is to increase the investment to RM1 billion.
“The target within the next three years is to be the first company in Malaysia to offer solar prices on par with that of fossil fuels,” he said.
Delivering successful projects consistently
Convincing investors was tricky, however, during the early years of the business. “The toughest part was convincing investors that the business was a risk worthy of their investment and would give them decent returns on investment,” Daud recalls.
How did Cypark achieve this? “We kept delivering on projects, which assured investors. We are confident that our financiers are happy and comfortable with our progress. The challenge at the beginning was also getting the technical resources we needed because we were going into unchartered territory. We had to develop own resources because it was hard to find trained people,” he says.
On winning the ‘Technology Entrepreneur of The Year 2013’ for Malaysia award organised by Ernst & Young (EY), Daud says that he was surprised at having won this recognition.
“This was the first time a green entrepreneur was nominated for the technology entrepreneur of the year award. I’m very thankful and grateful that I won the award, because it gives recognition to the industry. The award has brought recognition from the masses towards green technology in Malaysia. Green technology has now been recognised as a viable business model,” he enthuses.
Commenting on Daud’s win, Philip Rao, Partner and EY Malaysia Programme Director said: “The judges were impressed in the manner Encik Daud has displayed remarkable fortitude and foresight in the use of technology to transform wastelands and land-fills to create green energy, thereby creating a positive impact on the environment. His many award-winning green energy projects have resulted not only in environmental sustainability, but also the improvement in the livelihood and economic development of the communities he has impacted.”
Daud’s advice to entrepreneurs? “It is important that you continue to equip yourself with all the knowledge, especially keeping up to date on technology. Only then can you profile your risks and prepare yourself. With this, you will feel the confidence. People say I’m optimistic; I say optimism is the result of the effort of investing in yourself. You need to convince yourself and invest your own money in the business. If you’re not passionate, people won’t take you seriously.”