LAU institutes partner to spotlight women in business
Talks by six female entrepreneurs during Women Entrepreneurship Week inspire students and reveal criteria for a successful business.
The Institute of Family and Entrepreneurial Business (IFEB) at the Adnan Kassar School of Business, in cooperation with the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW), organized several talks led by six female entrepreneurs, as part of the fourth annual Women Entrepreneurship Week 2017, an initiative by Montclair State University that celebrates women entrepreneurs.
“We invited women with strong concepts and successful initiatives in order to encourage our students to investigate their ideas and come up with entrepreneurial ventures,” said Josiane Sreih, IFEB director, assistant dean and associate professor of management. “When students are exposed to the hardships of entrepreneurs, they won’t be discouraged if they face hurdles and problems in developing their own ideas.”
The talks, held throughout October at the Adnan Kassar School of Business, were delivered to students enrolled in Entrepreneurial Marketing, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Family Business and Organizational Behavior — as well as other business students — with the help of professors Amine Abi Aad, Phillippe Zgheib, Josiane Sreih, and instructor Amal Rouhana.
Carine Daher and Mina Hussein, the founders of e-commerce platform GarageLuxe, shared the value of maintaining focus and specialization during the early years of the business, while addressing students of marketing and innovation courses. “We have to develop our core business before we consider diversifying, else we will lose focus,” said Daher in response to a student asking why they did not sell men’s clothing as well as women’s. Daher and Hussein spoke in detail about market competition and the importance of concentrating on customer relations and product authenticity.
Asked if they faced discrimination as women, Hussein said that being female did not stand in their way, but as working mothers, organization was of the utmost importance. “Time management and strong partnership are essential.”
Partnerships indeed played a significant role in the survival of a business, said Sarah Hermez, founder and director of Creative Space Beirut, a school of fashion design for the underprivileged. “It’s important to empower your team and the people you’re working with,” said the designer. “It’s difficult for social enterprises to survive, but at the same time, there’s a great network of support in Lebanon for them at the moment.”
Hana Alireza and Leila Fakih, co-founders of Qi Juices, an organic ‘green juice’ producer, also shared their experiences, while Roula Moussa, mentor for younger entrepreneurs and founder of Netways, a pioneering internet tech company, discussed how her company became one of the leading providers of business technology and e-Government solutions in the Arab world. Moussa also expounded on her new project, DiasporaID, a digital platform that aims to capitalize on the enormous potential of Lebanese diaspora to contribute to employment and economic growth in Lebanon on a bigger scale.
All six speakers have led by example in championing businesswomen in Lebanon and the MENA region.
In order to identify strong women who could be part of the talk series, Sreih reached out to IWSAW. “It is critical that we highlight female role models who have defied convention and achieved success, specifically as entrepreneurs,” said Lina Abirafeh, the director of the Institute. “Financial independence is a critical component of women’s lives that is often undervalued, overlooked, or sidelined due to socio-cultural expectations and constraints. But the ability to survive on your own — to earn your own income and govern your own life — is something that, once we have, cannot be taken away. Hopefully these talks will inspire a new generation of women to follow suit.”