SME Events SME Focus

WE for Women Entrepreneurs!

This year WE at SME World 2016 inspired us to Initiate and Innovate! Sandi Saksena moderated the Women Entrepreneurs session at the conference and presented five success stories.

The much-awaited session on women entrepreneurs at SME World 2016 was bigger and better than expected. Carefully selected by facilitator Sandi Saksena, the Women Entrepreneur speakers were Dutch, British, Palestinian- American, Indian and Emirati. They gave a variety of business and personal perspectives of their entrepreneurship journey. Keeping a strict time frame, each speaker delivered an insightful presentation, which kept the audience engaged.

Sandi-Saksena-Intelligent-SMEAn energizing introduction Sandi got the session into top gear. Talking about the opportunities in Dubai’s SME space, she made a special mention of the three-finger salute, which was introduced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in February 2013 during the Government Summit in Dubai. She emphasized that WIN VICTORY LOVE, the innovative trademark for work ethic, success and love is what makes the SME sector here so vibrant. “It’s as simple as ABC – Attitude Belief, Courage. Bring it on is what WE say! WE heard from women who dream big, face challenges, have failed and got right back into the game.” says Sandi.

 ANOUK PAPPERS 
Anouk-Pappers-Intelligent-SME“Your (online) reputation is the most important asset you have.”

Brand Anthropologist and co founder of Cool Brands invoked the Harley Davidson biker kick to start the session. Through her book, “Around the World in 80 Days,” she has combined her love of travel and meeting different people into a business. She said: “In the Internet age, storytelling is both a powerful and necessary way of communicating – illustrative, easily memorable, and allows any firm to create stronger emotional bonds with the customer.”

Cool Brands specializes in that Wow factor to catch your audience’s attention. Tell the story in a way that people can easily remember. Don’t tell a story about “our company” or “the brand,” make it personal. The story has to be about you, in relation to the company, authentic and relevant.

You are what Google says you are! When people want to know who you are they will Google you, before (and after) meeting you. What they will find on the first page is your online public image, your online reputation – whether accurate or not.

BARAN ABDULLAH 
Baran-Abdullah-Intelligent-SME“Success is not final; failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Baran shared her journey from a naïve young college grad with a dream to a successful Woman Entrepreneur – the hurdles, resistance, lack of support and choosing a business in an environment not friendly to women entrepreneurs. And yes, inadequate funding, trusting too much, taking people on their word, she has experienced being cheated and left to face the bills, the dismissive attitudes of friends. The scorn, “Oh, she went to get a university degree and is
now selling flowers,” hurt and saddened her.

Baran’s Message: 
As an entrepreneur, be prepared for the scrutiny, cynicism the ridicule, friends and associates making fun behind your back. They don’t see your vision, they don’t see the bigger picture. Be prepared to be the owner, assistant, tea-boy, delivery man /woman  odd job person . There is dignity in labor. Never let it get to you.  Know the last laugh belongs to YOU when YOU succeed.

CORDELIA HENRY
Cordelia-Henry-Intelligent-SME“Real entrepreneurs are passionate; they turn their passion into their business”.

Raising the energy of session to higher level Cordelia Henry took the audience back in time on a bus journey with her mum when she had a life changing moment at age three. What she realized from an early age was that she was destined to build relationships with different people as she enjoyed being visible, as recognition was what she had longed for from her parents. 

Her visibility in turn created an atmosphere where people started speaking to each other. She was astonished that just by being the little girl on the red bus at the centre of the conversations she helped people to feel at ease with each other. She had started building communities and impacting the lives of complete strangers without even realising it. That was the beginning of her dream… “to connect people to each others….how fab!” She recalled feeling needed, visible and loved each time she did this……it felt like magic! 

She invited 12 women to join her on stage and share how passion in connectivity has worked for them.

Cordelia’s Message:
Explore how your childhood helps to fuel your business purpose. Learn how passion motivates you when everyone else tells you to quit. Understand that business without passion is a mere exercise in numbers. Foster deep relationships with like-minded people who are excited to forge their own futures. Build authentic communities, which are not governed by rules and tradition but instead by passion and joy.

By connecting people to each other you gain instant visibility and empower each individual to be all that they can be.

DINA TAJI
Dina-Taji--Intelligent-SME“Transform Your Life, Transform Yourself”

Dina’s journey

Super fit and healthy, strong and successful, Dina was an obese teenage who did not perceive herself as obese! She fitted into clothes because she just continued to buy bigger sizes, till one day she really saw myself in her XXX large swimsuit and stood back in shock and horror at this unhealthy, unsightly, image that was HER. She had a big task to transform the massive Dina into a healthy trim person.

“I used to compare myself to others thinking I wasn’t capable enough, strong enough or smart enough etc. Look at me,” she urged the audience, “did I just transform into this fit healthy energetic person overnight? You need a plan and I can give you a plan right now that you must follow four days a week and do each one of these routines and you body will transform completely and you will reach your fitness goals. Won’t you get inspired when you see the gradual transformation and tackle that workout with full force?”

Using this analogy she went on to state that same thing goes with any one of your goals in life. Dina wanted to start a company, a project to
make millions

but it was just dream vague because she had no focus what she truly wanted, what she was good at what she enjoyed doing. She dismissed the idea of fitness, health, nutrition, make overs as something she just did for friends!!!

Now of course it’s a different story and she is going from strength to strength so here are her takeaways

Dina’s mantras for success:

  • Every professional was once a beginner.
  • Every skill is learnable. Just because we’re not good at something doesn’t mean we can’t learn how.
  • Destroy thought repellents because that critical it stops us from following our passion and dreams.
  • Stop setting limitations on ourselves and not believing in ourselves
  • Transform the way you think of yourselves because that
  • Transform your actions and have a positive influence your decisions
  • Build your confidence by getting out of your comfort zone.
  • Be Receptive to new ideas; don’t reject things without trying them because that’s how we learn what we like
  • Motivation can only get you so far! So Inspire yourself to Innovate and Initiate
  • Invest your time every day and create habits that become a routine. This will make a make a huge impact on how fast you get to achieve your goals.
  • Transformation to a healthier, happier, more successful you, no matter what the present circumstances is always YOUR CHOICE.

KIMBERLY MIRANDA
Kimberly-Miranda-Intelligent-SMEThere are three key steps to transformation: Positivity, Passion, and Perseverance, says 16 year-old Kimberly Miranda is a student at Dubai College.

Aspiration: to be a fashion designer. “So what’s the big deal?” The story behind Body Image:

Born with a medical condition called Cerebral Palsy, which predominantly affects the function of her limbs, Kimberly has undergone five major surgeries.  Along with all the pain she endured, there came the scars and the insensitive reactions of people. Kimberly confidently walked on to the stage with the help of quad canes and took her place center stage to share her personal journey regarding  dbody image.

“It’s as simple as ABC – Attitude Belief, Courage. Bring it on is what WE say! WE heard from women who dream big, face challenges, have failed and got right back into the game,” says Sandi.

Kimberly has always provoked mixed reactions, most which were negative and insulting. People, some adults but mostly young children, just stare at her. Some just out of curiosity, and others in a more insulting way, they laugh at the way she walks, and kind of call it ‘retarded.’ On occasion she has been so incensed that she has gone up to the perpetrator and said “Excuse me. Please don’t laugh because I don’t think you can walk like me, can you?” What she usually does is politely tell people to stop staring, or tell them not to laugh because it’s not funny.

There are two ways, to react to a situation like this. Either ignore them, then go home feeling depressed and negative about yourself, or stand up for yourself. She chose to stand up for herself and she felt empowered!

Her scars are not a good sight and she felt they ruined her body. She never wore shorts or skirts out in public. But friends told her that they actually admired her scars because it showed her bravery. This boosted her self-confidence!

This young lady is an inspiration to all. She says, “I am in control of my life and the way people react towards my so called imperfections. And you know what, so you can you! When you display confidence about yourself, you not only raise your self-esteem, you also change the way people view you and your body.”

Most importantly, she spreads a positive message to people who are perhaps too shy or embarrassed to stand up for themselves. “Just do it! It might be hard at first, but once you do it the confidence will come. It’s your life and it is important that you live to make yourself happy, not others!”

“Cerebral Palsy (and many other disabilities) limits the choice in the clothes that we can wear. Nobody designs clothes for us and we just have to fit in to whatever is out there. Sure, we don’t form the majority and we may not be a profitable segment, so what?

She was INSPIRED TO INNOVATE AND INITATE and this was precisely why she wanted to become a fashion designer. Her aim is to create comfortable and contemporary clothing, easier to wear and that looks great. She offers simple designs, bold colours that accentuate the natural beauty, suitable to wear anywhere, and affordable.

More than anything, she want to empower teens with disabilities and make their fashion bold! “It’s a great business for me. I have a ‘captive,’ loyal market that will be coming to me!”

Her mission is to “transform the attitudes of those around me, not only for me but for the thousands of other people with a body shape or disability and design for people who don’t fit the norm of the acceptable  or stereotyped.”

To a standing ovation from the audience, she thanked her amazing, loving, supportive parents, family and friends who encouraged her and helped her be the confident person she is today.

About the author

SPI Group

An integrated platform created to serve entrepreneurs and service providers. SPI engages with over 100,000 Entrepreneurs & Senior decision makers through a unique combination of cutting edge business magazines, high profile B2B summits and conferences, strategic alliances with Govt, business associations and government bodies. SPI also leverages the power of digital marketing and social media.

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