Antoun Massaad co-founder of Cedar Rose, Christina Massaad CDMP, managing director and Hubert Mugliett, COO were invited to the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus to receive an award from his excellency, the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Nicos Anastasiades. The award was the Cyprus Special Export Award for Services 2018 – the ceremony having been delayed several months due to Covid-19.

Luckily, the team got to go by the skin of their teeth before Limassol was totally locked down. It’s the last time everybody will be allowed to leave the Limassol district of Cyprus until the end of November at least – due to strict measures enforced by our President and his team of advisers who have done an amazing job at keeping everyone safe in Cyprus during this whole pandemic affair.

Christina Massaad wrote:  “Sadly, Covid-19 did overshadow today’s event a great deal. There was no celebratory meal or networking cocktail party as there usually is at this annual recognition, and of course, we all had to wear masks, the President couldn’t shake anyone’s hands, only one of us could receive the award on stage and Antoun had to make do with a congratulatory fist bump, such as has become the new (hopefully temporary) normal. But I’m sure he didn’t mind.

Actually, nothing could dim the light of today for me. I am bursting with pride for so many reasons. Firstly, because when I met Antoun almost 30 years ago, he was a refugee in Greece – having left his family at just 17 years old to flee from the Lebanese civil war which had literally raged for his entire life, leaving him with little prospects there and very little hope. When he eventually moved to the UK with me in 1991, he wasn’t allowed to work until we were married. So, we married in 1992 and because of his impressive language skills, he began working in the field of credit information. The rest is history. In 1997, with help from the Princes Trust and the Essex Enterprise Centre, Cedar Rose was born.

The second reason I am so proud is because we now employ several people in Lebanon who are facing the same harrowing ordeal of a future which feels devoid of hope. This tiny country has not only suffered Covid-19 this year in vast numbers, but it also faced financial collapse where people’s savings and properties are worth a fraction of what they once were. And that was all before the horrific Beirut explosion in August. However, our Lebanese colleagues have kept going, motivated each other, kept striving for excellence and turning out the same high standard of work without slacking, despite the difficult conditions they find themselves in. They are a constant source of inspiration for me.

Also, I am honoured to work with a wonderful team here in Cyprus – who truly treat our clients as their own. I know that I can trust them to value the relationships Antoun and I have built over 23 years in this business, and that is wonderful to know – especially when we are all safely working from our homes. And I should of course mention my colleagues in Dubai, where Antoun and I travelled in March of this year to open our third country office just before we got locked down back in Cyprus the first time. Having an office in the UAE has long been a dream for us – it truly is an amazing country – and our colleagues there are coping extremely well despite the restrictions and the fact that we haven’t been able to visit them since the office was opened!

Most of all, I’m proud of what we all do. This award was for our services to exports – we help to facilitate trade between businesses in a safe, secure and compliant way. Our services lead to money launderers being caught, terrorist groups losing their financing routes, bad payers being highlighted, fraudsters being prevented from conducting their criminal acts. But also we help companies to know more about each other, so they can be confident in the decisions they make when they trade overseas and so that they can grow their exports securely.

I feel like I’ve been showing off a bit lately – we did receive another trophy through the post this week and I couldn’t help but celebrate that news. I wanted to share my excitement with my colleagues and our suppliers and customers too. I know that a lot of businesses are really struggling right now and it somehow feels wrong to be feeling on top of the world, but I hope that Antoun’s story will prove that no matter how hard life becomes, no matter how far you fall, there is always a way up – and bad times never last forever.”

BIIA extends its congratulations for this great achievement.  What a wonderful story and we thank Cedar Rose for sharing it with our membership.