Berytech and Groupe Bel have teamed up to launch the Kiri Mompreneur Challenge, and to inspire women to become entrepreneurs, we have asked four mompreneurs to share their tips on what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and mother.
Elsa Aoun is a mother and a serial entrepreneur. She co-founded 3 content platforms and 2 e-commerce platforms gathering millions of followers from across the world. It all started with a simple idea she and her husband had back in college in 2006 of creating Arabic content, which was lacking at the time. Elsa eventually quit her job when her first child was born to fully focus on her startup, which also gave her the time flexibility she needed to be the mom she wanted to be. Since then, Elsa has been able to raise $1.5M for Ounousa.com and $1M for Sohati.com and grow her team to 25 full-timers.
“Juggling motherhood and entrepreneurship takes a lot of organization, I take turns with my husband in driving the children from school and no matter how loaded are my work days, I make it a point to be there for homework. And weekends are nothing but quality time! My advice to women who want to launch their startups is to find a supportive environment that will lift you up – a friend, your husband, a family member, a co-working community – find the right business partner who will complement you, plan ahead and be prepared to be challenged every day.”
After her own career as a professional photographer was overturned by the birth of her children, Tanya Atallah decided to focus solely on teaching photography in universities. She then decided to launch the Fine Arts Photography Academy with an all-inclusive curriculum that allows students from different backgrounds to build a solid portfolio in photography with a choice between 24 different courses based on their photography passion. After 3 years of hard work, the academy now has a certified program, 180 students, 16 instructors, classes for all ages with a schedule that runs both in the mornings and evenings, and throughout the summer.
“The only way you will have the power to succeed is finding something that you are truly passionate about. Don’t worry about your management skills, you will learn that along the way – if you can manage a household, then you can definitely manage a startup. My advice to women who want to launch their startup is to stop feeling guilty about not being present for their children all the time. The best part is that it will teach them the great skill of managing their own lives. Just make sure to plan in some quality time together with your family that you will all appreciate.”
Stephanie Hanna took time off from her investment banking career after the birth of her twins. This restless mother of three was already looking for a startup idea when she realized the lack of customized label services in the region. This led her to create ESSMAK, an online platform that simplifies the life of mothers allowing them to order their custom labels online. Since its launch in 2015, ESSMAK has diversified into creating customized home items and has grown from Lebanon to the whole Middle East.
“Juggling motherhood and entrepreneurship is really hard: you are constantly overstretched and have conflicting priorities. However this is also a big advantage: you become much better at managing time, and have improved decision-making capabilities. This is going to be the best and the worst time of your life. My advice would be to have a good support system. There are no real office hours for mompreneurs and you will need your husband, your mother or family to help you out at home while you’re busy with your project. Finally, validating your project with professionals like Berytech will allow you to start on the right step before investing time, effort and money in it.”
Nisrine El Turky
Nisrine El Turky co-founded her startup IoTree last year from a simple idea to protect fruits from harmful insects. Since then, IoTree has been jumping from one achievement to another: winning the Agrytech Hackathon, receiving the LIRA award, reaching the third phase in the Agrytech Accelerator, partnering with touch, and winning the GSVC regional competition. Nisrine has also won the top 3 women entrepreneurs in the Arab world award by Potential.
“Motherhood makes us better leaders. Being a mom is a full-time job and my daughter has always been my priority and will always be regardless of my work; but, I also believe that every mother should keep her own productive space to be able to move forward as an individual. My advice to mompreneurs is to believe in themselves despite the obstacles that will be set in their way just because they are women. A mother is by nature a multi-tasker, this is what makes mompreneurs more skilled and agile than other entrepreneurs. Motherhood changes your vision, it makes you have better emotional intelligence while leading with determination and discipline.”
Inspired to become a mompreneur yourself? Apply to the Kiri Mompreneur Challenge and grab the chance to turn your business ideas into reality.
Learn more and apply on http://competitions.berytech.org/mompreneur/. Besides all the business support you will receive to get started, you may also be the winner of the Grand Prize: a 6-month incubation program at Berytech valued at $10,000, and another $10,000 grant from Kiri!