We are in a great period where number of opportunities are being opened for women business owners as the market is in search of more innovative ideas and solutions. And for the longest time, I’ve been wanting to write on this little space I own on the internet ,the stories of these women  who are making a mark in the start up system in their own ways; starting from my home countries – UAE and India.

Starting a business is a challenge for anybody and for women it is a no easy feat. There are specific challenges faced by a woman through a course of a business’s growth, but these women from different fields know their worth and are embracing persistence, learning continuously and have adopted a global mindset to be driven with passion and integrity. With the number of women owned businesses growing, we have an amazing list of entrepreneurs who are serving as role models for future generations.

For this article, I reached out to a few women I know to know about their entrepreneurial challenges and how they are overcoming them. Because these women are not only entrepreneurs but often wives and mums, I want the world to know their stories.

Farida Lokhandwala – Handcrafted.in

Farida lives in Mumbai, India and started making chocolates for her family while her sons were still very young, almost 10 years back. As people started tasting and appreciating her hard work, she branched out to people within her inner circle to offer them as gifts. This gradually got her more excited and intrigued to try new flavors which eventually made her take a professional course in chocolate making to be innovative and creative in her craft. When her children started getting older, she had more free time on hand to channel her chocolate-making passion into a home-based business. Apart from chocolates, she also sells mukhwas, borrowing recipes from her mum but reaching at her own signature ones with trial and errors.

All through, she says that her family has been her biggest support. Her sons have kept her updated with technology and branding Handcrafted.in whereas her husband is the biggest driving force in getting the materials on time to logistics to sometimes assisting in completing the tasks if she is running behind the schedule.

Connect with Farida on Facebook and Instagram to satiate your delicious chocolate cravings.

Malavika Raghavan – The Spice Route range of Artisanal Spice from Peace of Bake. (https://www.peaceofbake.com/spice-route/)

Malavika Raghavan is a certified pastry chef and creator of The Spice Route. Prior to taking this leap into the beautiful world of Artisanal Cakes, Bakes & Desserts, she worked with Global FMCGs in Brand Management for nearly 10 years. She started the range of Artisanal Spice Mixes in October 2017 to recreate authentic meals inspired by world cuisines conveniently and economically at home.Malavika bakes cakes & desserts, manages the blog {Peace of Bake}, curate content for Instagram, do the product development of new variants, produce and pack the mixes and work weekends at the ARTE Makers’ Market showcasing her range of Artisanal Spice Mixes and ofcourse it gets harder to balance it all independently. She also has recently dived into the world of ceramics, making her own tableware. But for the dedication she has for her business, she doesn’t whines. She says, “I honestly can’t complain, it’s been an extremely enriching journey and I love that I have so much yet to learn.”

The Spice Route range of Artisanal Mixes will be available at ARTE Makers’ Market from September onwards (post the summer break) at Times Square Center, Dubai. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on new launches, cake orders and more.

Nadine Tayara – Plotos (https://plotos.com/)

Nadine moved back to the UAE after she attained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutritional Sciences from Canada and started to build her career in nutrition and dietetics services. With over a decade of experience, Nadine has been a part of the clinical team of a leading diabetics center in Abu Dhabi as well as a well recognized diet and nutrition center in Dubai. 

In 2016, Nadine co founded KeepEATreal with Maria, a nutrition consultancy that offers tailor made and personalized nutrition solutions mainly targeting the food and beverage industry as well as schools. She later co founded Plotos with her business partner at KeepEATreal, to spread her passion and knowledge within the field of nutrition to connect people to healthy food.

Maria Abi Hanna – Plotos (https://plotos.com/)

Maria moved to UAE in 2010 after her education in Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics and training at Saint George Medical University Hospital in Beirut. She worked at two leading diet centers as a clinical dietitian encompassing all the different areas of nutrition including individual counseling, community work, and
food service.

With a decade of experience in the nutrition and dietetics field, Maria co-founded KeepEATreal with Nadine, and went further to build Plotos, the region’s first
nutrition and wellness platform and accompanying healthy food delivery app to suit individuals’ dietary and lifestyle requirements.

Arwa Federal – Arwa Federal Signature Cakes

Arwa says that baking didn’t happen to her accidentally. Her mum used to bake a lot and their home was always filled the aromas of freshly baked cakes and cookies. When it was time to choose the career, she was very sure what she wanted to do. She enrolled herself for a Hotel Management Degree Program. While she had a full support from her family, her teachers thought she probably was ruining her career options. As the luck would have it, the course was failing to deliver it’s promises and she was almost about to switch to a BBA program, but decided to pursue until the end of the semester. 

She worked long hours at a leading five star property in Dubai as a Commis Chef in the pastry kitchen. It was when the hours of work, physical labor and work politics started affecting her health, she decided to call it quits and start something of her own. Her first order was a black forest cake in the year 2005. Arwa has explored different mediums of sugar crafting which is so well exhibited on all her beautiful creations. She concludes that living in Dubai has given her the advantage of attending the workshops by leading cake artists from around the world and 13 years later, the learning never stops. 

Connect with Arwa on Facebook and Instagram for your next celebration!

Dr. Summia Naz – Maya’s Organic (https://mayasorganicworld.com/)

Dr. Summia Naz, is a British citizen who has an extensive pharmaceutical, medical writing, academic consulting background. Her PhD was based on antibiotics, however in recent years her children suffered which is why she transitioned from allopathy to functional medicine. She started her own company in 2017 in the name if Maya’s Organic that is based on natural products and an Integrative Therapy Program. 

Apart from Maya’s Organic, Dr. Naz also has an extensive 15 years of experience in professional writing. She established ProfessionalWS in 2004,  delivering high-quality writing and research to customers globally. Her areas of expertise range from medical research, medical writing, academic writing, academic coaching, business writing, web content, resume editing and regulatory affairs documents (assistance with your PhD, MBA, MA, BSc, dissertation, thesis) with a proven track record spanning over two decades. 

She wraps up our conversation proudly saying that the online therapy consulting is rewarding and a huge responsibility which has helped many women and families benefiting from it so far. 

Connect with Dr. Naz on Instagram or email at helpdesk@mayasorganicworld.com

Scheherazade – Scheherazade Photography (https://www.scheherazadephotography.com/)

Scheherazade started photography in 2012 when she first bought her first professional camera. She was so blown away by the quality of the pictures, it made her curious to learn everything about her new camera – from settings to photography techniques. And later, a course by Dobi Baba, a Pakistani based photographer who introduced her to studio photography. After coming to Dubai,Scheherazade continued her passion and was fortunate enough to take classes from world renowned family and portrait photographers.

She says, her husband is very supportive of her little entrepreneurship. Mommy duties keep her busy through the week and she is only available to shoot on the weekends but her 2 year old girl is turning into a perfect model for any test shots she needs! 

The most concerning part of all is that people don’t realize how much time, effort and money is involved in their photo sessions. Scheherazade winds up saying that since she is taking the time away from her family taking pictures and spending time on editing the pictures or working on the props, she expects them to take her dedication for photography seriously.

Connect with Scheherazade on Facebook and Instagram to capture your memories in beautiful frames. 

Mifrah Alavi – Home•Grown

Mifrah is a textile designer and a photographer by education and had her own studio in Pakistan before she moved to Dubai in 2012. She was a stay at home for the most part after her children were born, making it difficult for her to take any projects. Also that her husband is a film maker and work for longer hours allowing him to stay away from children, she always wanted to utilize her time effectively. 

Over the period of 5 to 6 years that she has lived in the city, the harsh climatic conditions started having adverse effects on her skin. Mifrah’s skin related issues led her to delve deeply into aromatology – where she used the blend of various oils to heal her body. That’s where she found a chance to practice something that she truly loved and enjoyed doing. It’s rewarding to see its beneficial to so many others, she says. During her research and study of the subject, she came across a lot of people going through a similar struggle living in the UAE. Hair loss due to the salinity in the water levels, eczema, dry flaky skin, pigmentation due to the harsh sun is all very common here.

Home•Grown is a range of carefully developed products that combats skin related issues. She affirms that the brand uses 100% organic cold pressed oils (which are imported from vendors all over the world) and 100% organic essential oils. These are also customized according to individual needs in the form of body oils, face serums and soap.  At the moment Home•Grown makes 4 different kinds of body scrubs, 4 different lip scrubs, 8 flavors of lip butters, 3 different body soaps and a hair loss oil.

To pace order, contact Mifrah on +971529603264.

Nilshree Damani – Aneeqa

Nilshree started looking for a work-from-home jobs as soon as her baby  turned 1 so she can be present at home for mommy duties and home responsibilities. She also registered for multiple data entry jobs which turned out to be fake. She stuck to her goals for finding a right opportunity and began Aneeqa, an online store where she re sells clothes from various brands and secure a couple of orders every week to keep her busy and satisfied.

Nilshree didn’t just stop at Aneeqa. On her quest to give something back to the society, she writes motivational posts for Diva, an online community for uplifting women from different parts of the world and registered herself for an Early Child Care course in pursuit to become a pre-school teacher one day. As a young mother, she aims to be financially independent. And juggling all of this is only possible with having an understanding and supportive partner, she concludes. Find Aneeqa on Facebook.

Priyanka Yagnik – Phenak India

Priyanka lives in Delhi and is a graduate in B.Sc Bio Chemistry. She has always been a fan of beauty products but excess use of it, eventually started showing on her skin which made her switch back to age old methods of keeping the skin beautiful without the use of harsh chemicals. After her son was born, Priyanka says, she was adamant on reading all the labels behind every product available in the market and found it best to use the pantry staples like besan and cream for her son’s baby skin.

Priyanka loves to teach as well. In one of her class, as a part of a syllabus for 10th standard Chemistry class, they did a practical of  Saponification Process and followed instructions to make a soap. This soap was tried by one of the student’s mom and it showed great results on  her otherwise itchy skin. Taking this incident as an inspiration and her love for natural products, Priyanka started more research on ayurved and began her own brand “Phenak India” {Phenak is a sanskrit word which translates to soap}. Supporting local, all her products are made using the herbs and elements grown in India also stabilizing Indian economy in whatever little way she can contribute. 

Priyanka starts her day early with yoga as it helps her to meditate and start working on her products while her son is in school during the day. She is extremely contented to have a supportive family, she concludes; while her husband is the biggest cheerleader and a business partner, her brother and sister in law helps her with branding. 

To place an order, connect with on Phenak India’s Facebook page.

After researching about these ladies and hand picking them myself for the first article in this series on the blog, I am so proud and convinced that women has it all in herself to become what she wants to. 

2 thoughts on “Women Entrepreneurs Share Their Stories – Part 1”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *