By some estimates, women only contribute around 15 percent to Jordan’s overall economy. So it’s no surprise they sadly remain widely underrepresented in the Kingdom’s business world.
But despite the many hurdles they face, some female entrepreneurs have managed to start and sustain successful companies across a host of sectors.
This month, we bring you just a few examples of these tenacious and hard working individuals who are blazing a trail for Jordanian women everywhere.
Founder & CEO: Fida Taher
In 2011, Fida Taher had enough. Employed at a local video production company she had reached a plateau. She stopped learning. In a bold, somewhat surprising, move, she decided to step into a world she knew little about – not just business, not just technology, but business, technology and cooking.
While Taher’s cooking skills have been described by her family, no less, as mediocre; it was exactly that which allowed her to see the opportunity. Recipes have always been freely available and in plentiful supply, but for Taher they could still be made much easier and much more fun to follow – through video. Thus the seed for Atbaki, an Arabic digital recipe platform, was sown.
It first it took the shape of the Zaytouneh website in 2011, which provided short cooking videos, then it evolved into Atbaki in 2015, which incorporated content from some of the Arab World’s most renowned chefs, and whose current users number at 1.5 million per month, according to Taher.
For Taher the entrepreneurial journey is full of contradictions. It’s tough and lonely, but at the same time it is very exciting and rewarding. “Everything is amplified in entrepreneurship. It is a rollercoaster ride,” she explained – even more so as a woman. Taher cites global statistics that emphasize the size of the task ahead of her: Women run 30 percent of the world’s startups, but receive less than 7 percent of VC investment money. So it’s easy understand Taher’s assertion that in Jordan, as well as the rest of the region, men are perceived as more credible in business.
But despite the difficult journey, Taher does not let any of the challenges get to her. Throughout her career, Taher’s energy has been focused on one goal: to succeed as a female entrepreneur, to excel in the business she has chosen, and to keep learning.
The best advice she would give other women embarking on their own venture is: “The more you talk about your idea and get feedback on it, the better it will turn out to be.” By pitching their ideas to experts who will challenge them, they will be able to develop a solid product, which is why it is important to accept feedback and be willing to make changes and amendments.
By providing a comprehensive guide to easy-to-use recipes, Taher doesn’t think she re-invented the wheel, she simply made it work better. “In business I focus on clear—and few—KPIs: keeping an open mind and a small space to experiment, but trying as much as possible not to be distracted.”
This is part one of a twelve-piece story.