Are females less privileged when it comes to starting a business? Specifically here in MENA?
Why do these ladies pursue such a career, and how hard was it? How did they start and what helped them? And.. what didn’t!
These are the questions that I have started addressing in part one of this article. I have presented some facts and a bit of Ms. Al Oraibi’s story; which provided positive feedback about female entrepreneurship. Today, we read about two more experiences here in MENA, to help better understand the circumstances and challenges these ladies faced.
The second entrepreneur I talked to was Ms. Stefania Brunori, a Spanish/Italian experienced brand strategist that was moved to Dubai as an employee with her previous work, early 2009.
On her transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship she recalled “Every time I was offered a position, I imagined myself presenting its business card while introducing myself to people. If I didn’t feel I was proud of it, I just turned that offer down”, she continued “I could not find myself in any of the offers I got, so I decided that it was time for me to start my own business.”
Ms. Brunori started her journey early 2015, in a workshop held by Oasis500, a leading seed investment company and a business accelerator based in Jordan. She met her business partner later same year, and they worked on her idea and the business plan. And on January 24th 2017, they launched Yoginfinity.com, an online platform for Yoga and Meditation for the region; at IN5, an innovation hub based in Dubai.
About entrepreneurship she answered “You realize you are meant to become an entrepreneur, when you feel your choices are driving you in a different direction than the traditional, a riskier path”
I asked Ms. Brunori about what she thinks an entrepreneur really needs to start a business, to that she answered “First of all you need Persistence, no one will be pushing you to your own deadlines. Second, you will need to believe in yourself and your own idea, and know what makes you unique. Third, you need to be able to manage your days, your time and your stamina” and she added “A wise man once said, success is not about your idea, it is about implementing it.”
I also talked to Ms. Dana Khatib, who started her career as a marketing coordinator in a big company. Through her job, Ms. Khatib started realizing there was a gap in the implementation of promotions in the Jordanian market. In 2011, she seized the opportunity, with zero capital needed, and coordinated with individuals on project-basis.
With time, Ms. Khatib was able to expand her clients’ portfolio and gain more credibility. And in early 2014, she started raising funds from angel investors, mainly family and friends.
“To become an entrepreneur I think what you need is a solid idea. Along with, experience in that field, and in what you intend to do. You also need to have strong Will to be able to go through with your idea” And when asked about funds she said “Worry about money last!”
Ms. Khatib also explained to me how many entities have helped her gain knowledge she needed to grow her business. Of them she mentioned, The Open Hands Initiative, and the Empretec business center in Jordan.
And about challenges she added, “We cannot deny we have many challenges here in MENA, especially in my country Jordan, where taxes are higher than in other countries. These taxes burden entrepreneurs. And I suspect it is the major cause for many startups closing down, though their ideas were value adding to the market. I hope we as entrepreneurs can work with our governments to solve these issues to help our economies grow.”
I hope you are finding the bits of these stories as interesting as I did. If you noticed, these ladies have talked about their experiences as entrepreneurs, much more than specifically ‘female entrepreneurs’.
Please stay tuned for the third and final part of this article.