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Swedish embassy event champions promising women-led start-ups

By Sarah Al Arshani - Nov 13,2019 - Last updated at Nov 13,2019

NOFA Creative Space art gallery on Tuesday hosted an event featuring two panel discussions with established entrepreneurs on the obstacles of entrepreneurship in the Kingdom and social-impact entrepreneurship (Photo by Sarah Al Arshani)

AMMAN — NOFA Creative Space art gallery on Tuesday was bustling with people celebrating entrepreneurship and 10 women entrepreneurs who completed a training programme designed to equip them in running their promising start-ups.

The celebration, under the name #EmpowerWomenJo, featured two panel discussions with established entrepreneurs on the obstacles of entrepreneurship in the Kingdom and social-impact entrepreneurship.  

Jakob Ström, Sweden’s deputy head of mission in Amman, said during the event that businesses can foster and develop relationships between countries in ways that general diplomacy may not be able to. Ström spoke of Sweden’s “entrepreneurial spirit and achievements” and his hopes “for Jordan’s continued development”. 

“Sweden is a potential destination for Jordanian entrepreneurs to export their products,” he told The Jordan Times on Tuesday.

Ström also praised the women entrepreneurs who participated in the two-week training, which was offered by the Swedish Embassy in partnership with Creative Startups and support from the European Union. 

“Those who are here, they have a lot of capacity and skill,” he said. 

Panelist Jenny Ahzlén, co-founder of Amam Ventures fund, said that many of the challenges that women entering the entrepreneurial sphere may face are “soft concerns”, such as not having confidence or “executive presence”, and the need for personal growth. 

Lena Ramfelt, who led the training programme, stressed the need for business to be impactful. She said that in the next five to seven years, all business founders will become “impact entrepreneurs” due to the demand of consumers and investors for accountability. 

Co-founder of Jobedu clothing and accessory brand Tamer Al Masri said at the event that all businesses starting out now need to focus on impact. He noted that accountable businesses are the most profitable. The resources available now, specifically social media, are making it easier to start a venture, he added. 

“The whole ecosystem is evolving with us,” Al Masri said. 

The 10 women who participated in the training programme all run businesses with a social impact aspect. 

Luma Adnani is a co-founder of Adam Wa Mish Mish, a cartoon show focused on teaching kids Arabic. Adnani was inspired to start this venture with her husband after noticing that their son responded well to learning Arabic with music. She realised that kids all across the world can also benefit from this type of learning experience, she told The Jordan Times. 

Adnani said the training helped her to “focus and gain structure” on how to advance her business. 

Bayan Btoush describes herself as a “chemical engineer and a coffee addict”, and the founder of Heco, a brand that produces two kinds of spoons that can be used to either heat or cool coffee on-the-go. She is working to have her invention patented to hit the market next year. 

Btoush told the Jordan Times on Tuesday that her invention “wasn’t just about heating or cooling coffee”, as she hopes it will “inspire young Jordanians to be innovative and create their own inventions”. She also hopes to help the less fortunate. 

“My vision is to deliver this technology to people who don’t have easy access to electricity,” she said.  

Alaa Abdulraziq’s business is all about recycling. Abdulraziq is the founder of Khashabiat, a carpentry house that makes furniture out of recycled material. Abdulraziq told the Jordan Times on Tuesday that she is the only woman carpentry house in the country. 

While some men in her industry are “surprised” to see her working in this field, she said, she has built a “great repertoire” with female clientele who “feel more comfortable” interacting with another woman. 

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