Over the years, Syrian women have been and remain a force to reckon with in our society. It is difficult to enumerate the achievements made by Syrian women; or to recount their inspiring success stories in a few lines or even volumes of books. Syrian women had to fight even more fiercely than their male counterparts to achieve their goals and fulfil their aspirations, especially within the fields of business; and the ipso facto new societies that could be vastly different in their components from the traditional Syrian strata.
To fathom what needs to be done, there’s nothing better than hearing from the horse’s mouth. So, we sought the opinion of these women who started their own businesses abroad and asked them about the challenges that they face and what expectations they have of SIBA.
As a female Syrian entrepreneur, what expectations do you have of SIBA?
Sara Al-Sawaf, the founder of Aya Animations dedicated to the production of animations, says that female Syrian entrepreneurs need first and foremost moral support and appreciation for what they do. They also need conduits to spread their success stories and their achievements in this world, in addition to guidance and advice on how to proceed in developing and expanding their businesses. Commercial support is also a must through enabling them to communicate with potential business partners, associates and angel investors. Finally, female Syrian women need consultations, recommendations, and fresh ideas to offer further added-value to the Syrian contingencies, whether men or women living abroad.
Lama Mardini, the founder of Soul Art Centre dedicated to arts in Dubai, UAE – whom we interviewed in a previous article – said that by joining SIBA, she aims to build bridges of communications and robust business partnerships while receiving training on how she can improve her business and excel at it. She certainly seeks financing to expand her business.
Lina Abo Nabout, is a founding partner of Gyalpa enterprise, which aims to support Syrian women who have a knack for manual crafts like making bags and clothes. She plans, afterwards, to market those products and sell them on the German market via online channels or her physical store that has just been opened in Berlin. Lina told us that she expects the help of an organisation such as SIBA to establish channels of communications between the Syrian contingencies living in host countries, governments, and various local sectors. Such collaboration would result in smoothening their running of business affairs, resolving their problems like obtaining licences, visas and freedom of movement. In addition, this would facilitate organising activities that would help gather Syrian entrepreneurs under one umbrella to exchange business ideas, share experiences, and expertise to improve business productivity for everyone especially women.
Therefore – and unexpectedly – we found that direct financial aid is not the crux of the issue for Syrian women. Despite its significance, other factors like training and polishing skills, building bridges with business owners, setting the scene for new partnerships, providing facilitations, and overcoming obstacles that exist in host countries; all of these, are considered of top priority for the business Syrian woman.
SIBA is indeed sparing no effort to enable Syrian women to reach their goals via their periodically-organised activities that allow them to meet and communicate with businessmen and representative of the private factors. Not to mention participating in sharing information, providing investment opportunities, and sharing expertise about the difficulties Syrians face while establishing and running their businesses in new countries and societies.
SIBA also endeavours to organise events and workshops to help develop skills for business owners in general, and women entrepreneurs in particular, to help them expand the scope of their businesses and overcome the obstacles and challenges that might impede that.