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They may not have to pay for expensive locations, but local woman entrepreneurs operating out of their homesteads still don't have it easy in courting success.
''The mandate to have a local partner is quite stressful... There are also no active go-to or free advisory services provided by the government that would encourage such small ventures unlike found in most countries,'' said Jemima Hussain, who imports clothes and toys from her home country South Africa.
''Expensive licensing and red-tapism makes it very difficult to start an independent business for someone who wishes to make a minimal investment.''
A solution would be for official recognition of microbusinesses that can operate out of homes. ''Extortionist retail rental and additional staff can pinch into the profits and therefore a deterrent to lot of women who otherwise are endowed with the creativity and ability,'' said Reesha Al Meida, founder and creative director of Pret a Papier, maker of customised stationery ''Banks require a minimum deposit of Dh20,000 a month in the account, which is high for a start-up and can be quite discouraging.''
Until more help comes via government sources, these start-up owners are using online and social media platforms to connect with potential leads.
They also have a website called 'Little Majlis' that allows members to work under their trade license and also be an online store selling directly to the public.
''I started with Little Majlis as part of my market research to see demand for my products before making any big investment,'' said Jemima. ''[One could] also consider sponsorships from organisations and selling through fairs since they help you connect directly with the customer base and gauge your performance in the market.
''After two years, I have now got my own trade license and aim to target retail outlets as my next step.''
But managing the often limited advertising budgets can be a challenge. ''I find it particularly hard since the cost of advertising in newspapers or magazines is relatively quite high,'' said Sidiqa Sohail, who owns the boutique café Spontiforia. ''We have to end up paying the same as the big companies and it can be hard competing with that.
''Being a local, I may have complete ownership and relatively lower licensing costs, but the hardships faced as an owner of a small-scale business unit remains the same irrespective.
''I can identify with the challenges faced by women [business owners], since we are running one-man shows shouldering all the responsibilities — from production, designing, stock keeping to marketing, advertising and accounting.''
Source: Mannat Jaspal, Special to gulfnews.com
The writer is an intern at Gulf News