While it’s easy to mistake that Munira al Balushi had it easy in life because she is now a business owner, the realist and resilient Owner of House of Baraseem for Fashion and Beauty said that she is well aware of the difficulty of finding a job and created her own opportunity by taking a risk and launching her own business.
Hamoud al Amri, owner of Dukan al Asal, producer of mountain honey, also launched his business towards the end of 2015 who looked for alternative career options because of the difficulty he experienced finding a job.
The same can be said about Lamsati — a business that focuses on designing newborn bedrooms and wedding giveaways — owner Samia al Mablasi who took the leap and decided that having her own business would work well for her especially with the vision she has in mind.
The three entrepreneurs were all alumni of Shell Intilaaqah, Oman’s social investment version of Shell LiveWire International dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs and Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through all stages of entrepreneurship.
“Entrepreneurship is one of the best solutions when job seeking becomes too difficult. Although it is taking a risk, I’m a firm believer that running your own business will contribute to your happiness as you are your own boss,” Munira shared.
Munira has always been passionate about fashion. She began her business in 2016 where she was inspired to bring her personal designs to the Omani market.
At a young age, she began to experiment with new fashion styles and researching about other trends. She spent many days looking through magazines and fashion websites where she sat with her sketchbook. She has worked on her own clothing line with traditional hand embroidery designs in the making.
“Taking the leap to open up my business was frightening, but my passion for my work overthrew it. Although I work on my own, I have the continuous support from my husband, family and friends who provide me with the help I need,” Samia shared.
Samia’s passion stemmed from a young age where she spent her summer holidays exploring different art projects.
Through those endless days, she developed her passion for sewing, drawing and even learning to crochet. Samia would stay up and spend her days mesmerised by the art world wanting to make and stitch all kinds of clothing items and accessories.
As she grew older, Samia continued expanding on her art skills, but she did not have enough time to practice, as she began to take care of her family and children. She never imagined herself as an entrepreneur, but after some years, she decided to turn her skills into a viable business.
Hamoud, on the other hand, had always toyed with the idea of the health benefits and importance of Oman’s mountain honey. With some research and upon the discovery that honey helps cure many illnesses and is also used in a variety of recipes, he decided that he’d wanted to bring the Omani mountain honey to the markets.
“Ever since I started Dukan Al Asal, I have had the incredible support from my sister. She believed in me and provided me with the extra hand whenever I needed it.”
All three admitted that it wasn’t easy however having the idea but no clue as to how to make it a reality and finally, a success.
Conducted in collaboration with the Public Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises Development (Riyada), the three receive full support from Shell Intilaaqah starting from generating an idea, developing a feasibility study and a business plan, to supporting the growth of their startups.
They went through the five phases of modular training of the ‘Aspire and Inspire’ programme — counselling and support tailored to provide aspiring Omani talent with the skillsets required to turn original and feasible ideas into real businesses in line with consumer demands in the marketplace.
As a business owner, Munira believed that what she has built “will also contribute positively to the country’s economic growth in the long-run.”
She added, “We are fortunate to have programmes such as Aspire and Inspire from Shell Intilaaqah where we are given the necessary tools we need to start our own businesses successfully. I have taken my learnings and adapted them to how I now run my business and I have seen the positive impact it has made.”
With the knowledge she learnt, Samia said, “I see myself opening a store in the near future where my customers can purchase bulk orders that can be sold across the Sultanate. I aspire for my products to be known worldwide where my business is the first to come to mind.”
As for Hamoud, he is proud of what he has built so far. His team currently consists of eight hardworking Omani employees and he has plans of expanding his company further in the near future.
Najwa Al Kindi, Director of Shell Intilaaqah Oman, said,
“Over the last year, Shell Intilaaqah has seen the growth of simple ideas that have now turned into viable businesses. The programmes’ graduates have put what they have learned and adapted it to the launch of their companies. The Alumni start-up companies vary from fashion, food, health-care and interior design among other industries.”
She added, “Entrepreneurs are first aspired to create something and evolve through the stages of training until they graduate, start their own business, and then inspire others to embark on the path of entrepreneurship. The Aspire and Inspire programme from Shell Intilaaqah Oman continues to capture the spirit of its participants and through their determination and hard work, we are confident they are able to work towards establishing successful businesses.”
The training programme has positively impacted the work and growth of a multitude of entrepreneurs and their businesses. Through this success, Shell Intilaaqah ‘Aspire & Inspire’ programme has launched the Intilaaqah Club “iClub”, an alumni-dedicated association where budding entrepreneurs can network and share challenges and success stories with each other to elevate their businesses.