SME Champions

An agile approach to staying ahead

Winner of the People and Culture Award 2019



Founders of Ecocoast


Through the Gulf Capital SME Insights hub, we look for and highlight the success stories of GCC based SMEs that have achieved sustained growth and continue to set new standards that can help inspire other entrepreneurs and SME business owners to chart their own success stories.

In the midst of the fight to stop the Covid-19 pandemic, it is very difficult to see beyond the immediate healthcare and economic challenges created by the virus. But once the health crisis has passed, focus will return once again to the battle against climate change and the need to protect the environment.  

Reducing pollution of the oceans is a critical part of the climate change agenda and is the focus of UAE-based company Ecocoast, winner of the People and Culture of the Year award at the 2019 Gulf Capital SME Awards.


Founded in Dubai in 2009 by Dana Liparts and Lachlan Jackson, Ecocoast’s mission is: “To solve the world’s most pressing marine problems and create a more pioneering marine industry.”

Established during the economic downturn in 2009, when money was tight and environmental considerations were not high on the list of priorities for developers, Ecocoast set out to provide pioneering solutions for sustainable coastal and marine development.

“Sustainability was not the buzzword it is today,” says Jackson. ”And there certainly were no environmental regulations enforcing sustainable practices.”

“From day one, we knew our clients would not buy from us just because our products or services were good for the environment,” he explains. “There were no regulations and very little money in the market. Therefore, there needed to be some other value for our products and services.”

Jackson says that Ecocoast offers benefits to clients in the form of cost-saving, efficiency, or revenue generation.

“Therefore by taking on our solutions, they are not just doing good for the environment and society, but also for their business.”

This approach has proved to be very successful, with the award-winning business growing 56 percent over the past two years.

With over 150 clients, Ecocoast has introduced innovations in products ranging from coastal and marine protection and demarcation to navigation and pollution management.

Maintaining a hungry, startup mentality was a challenge for the rapidly-growing, decade-old company, so, in 2016, a business coach was enlisted to support the organisation, steering them towards a more agile leadership approach.

Liparts explains: “The objective of this was to enable everyone in the business to align their efforts on a strategic and tactical level, and, most importantly, help them set a very clear goal every quarter to focus on what is most important for the success of the business”.

To make this work, entrepreneurs say that staff engagement is essential.

“We recognise that our employees play a key role in driving sustainability throughout the business,” says Liparts, “and we strive to create an environment that empowers them, fosters innovation, and leverages individual expertise.”

Their comprehensive, structured approach to creating a positive working environment and in developing its staff won Ecocoast ‘People and Culture of the Year’ at the Gulf Capital SME Awards, 2019.

The company’s people sustainability strategy, Ecolife, consists of 4 key elements:

Ecohub is a high-integrity work environment based on a strong brand, core values, performance and recognition programmes;

Ecolearning promotes personal and professional growth through a range of internal and external learning and development programmes;

Econews educates all employees in the rules of business to rally them around a quarterly common goal;

Ecosocial empowers employees to make a difference to the community by leveraging their knowledge and technical expertise. The programme also encourages employee volunteerism.

“The implementation of Ecolife has resulted in a more engaged workforce,” says Lipart. ”4.21 out of 5.00 is our current employee Engagement Score, based on Gallup’s Engagement Every Day curriculum, meaning that our employees are enthusiastic about and committed to their work,”

With dark clouds gathering across so many areas of the global economy, Ecocoast’s engaged workforce and agile leadership approach put it in a strong position to weather any storms.


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