Sana Bagersh is trying to take advantage of her position as the chief executive of the marketing firm BrandMoxie to help fellow entrepreneurs in the Emirates. But as she explains, her efforts to expand Tamakkan, a series of monthly seminars she launched on entrepreneurship in 2009, have led to some unique challenges.
- Q) What does “Tamakkan” mean?
- A) In Arabic, it means empower yourself. Arabic tends to be more polite. I just really wanted a jarring effect that you don’t have to wait for someone to spoon-feed you. You can do it.
- Q) Why did you launch this series?
- A) When I started BrandMoxie in 2004 a lot of people would call me and say, “How do you put together a marketing plan? How do you write a press release?” I thought it would be nice if BrandMoxie somehow acted as an enabler for more people like me to share knowledge … [with] people starting their own ventures. We focus on certain topics – branding, social media – but they’re quite broad in nature. If anybody has specific questions, they can ask during the seminar and get input from peers and experts.
- Q) How have you tried to expand what Tamakkan offers?
- A) A month ago we introduced short, one-day courses on subjects like the fundamentals of accounting for small businesses, how to get funding, how to hire the right people. We’re trying to keep them cheap. I’m talking to organisations to see if they want to pitch in.
- Q) How is that going?
- A) A lot of these big entities are so bureaucratic and take so long to decide. With entrepreneurship, things need to be faster. Entrepreneurs need help now.
- Q) How do you plan to help them in the future?
- A) [Providing referrals] is the only thing we’re able to do because we’re not a funded organisation and we don’t have a proper office. I’m hoping Tamakkan can evolve to offer an online knowledge base, in Arabic and English, on how to start this, how to do that, and a proper affair aimed at fueling more SME [small and medium-sized enterprises] creation. Hopefully if we get revenue coming in for courses we can support it a little more permanently.
- Q) On May 29, you’ll be taking the seminar to Dubai for the first time at the University of Wollongong. Why have you stayed in Abu Dhabi until now?
- A) I felt Dubai had so many things happening and with the Khalifa Fund we were getting a lot of people in Abu Dhabi who were funded but just didn’t know how to really make a go of it. There is a certain category of entrepreneurs in Abu Dhabi where money is really not the big problem – it’s knowledge. You get very young serial entrepreneurs who are well into their third or fourth venture, and it’s my belief that if they got some really good grounding when they started their first or second the survival rate would have been higher.
* Neil Parmar