RIYADH: Amid the fast-paced reforms underway in the Kingdom, a Saudi woman has decided to contribute to the change in her own way. She decided to turn the pain she experienced from her failure in business into an inspirational story for other female entrepreneurs.
Noura Al-Otaibi wants to leave a long-lasting impact on her society and to join in the government’s efforts to help empower women.
Her story began when she first quit her job in the public sector to start her own business. Her life was turned upside down from being used to her monthly salary to knowing nothing for certain. The journey of not knowing what to do in the world of business, which path to choose, how to manage and market, how to finish paperwork, and how to pay the office rent, lasted for two and a half years.
She went through a trial-and-error process. It was much harder than her expectations. However, she never regretted this phase and is grateful for the pain and obstacles she went through. “It was a beneficial experience that taught me lessons I could never learn in any college.”
Al-Otaibi then decided to do different courses and enrolled in training programs, a move that helped her to give a proper direction to her new career.
The first course, which she attended, served to be an eye-opener. It made her realize the important role a woman could play in other women’s lives. Only 23 trainees took part in that course.
Driven by a deep belief in female empowerment, Al-Otaibi wants to achieve this goal by replacing the idea of competition with collaboration and making it a win-win situation for all.
She started implementing her ideas by conducting meetings and gatherings with her course mates to share knowledge. Al-Otaibi then linked female entrepreneurs to decision-makers to find solutions to existing issues.
After witnessing the success of the idea, Al-Otaibi decided to officially establish Rawd Business Community to empower women, encourage female entrepreneurs to find what suits them, provide them with practical content, and enhance cooperation between female entrepreneurs.
“It is not just an online group. It is an actual community where everyone is ready to cooperate with one another. We grew from 20 female entrepreneurs to 450 from all over the Kingdom. Many of them come from outside Riyadh just to attend our monthly meetings,” said Al-Otaibi.
She provides many essential services to female entrepreneurs, such as law or consultancy to tell them how to finish paperwork, legislation and rules, effective planning, etc.
The group is divided into different groups and sub-groups based on the level of experience and sectors. The group provides all its members with marketing service for about three hours daily.
Al-Otaibi said: “I want to serve womenfolk. I believe that as women we don’t have to work in isolation. Cooperation is the key. That is why I am planning to have a mixed-gender community in which we can benefit from each other and support each other in business. No one can succeed alone.”
Manal Alshakrah, CEO of Manalook Center for Training and a group member, said: “In the center, we offered many free-of-charge courses to support female entrepreneurs in Rawd Community. We also offer the group members 20 percent discount on all the courses and workshops in the center.”
She said she benefited a lot from her participation in the group: “I like the healthy environment that pushes for support, cooperation and development. We don’t consider each other competitors. Instead, we treat one another as colleagues.”
Ahlam Cluntun, founder of the Standout Center for Pediatric Physiotherapy, said: “I benefited from the quick answers to my questions without having to contact the organization. Ms. Noura also visited us in the group to brainstorm with us on how to enhance the services of the group.”