“When I first gave birth, I thought my life would end at this point,” Engy Moataz tells Egyptian Streets. “I thought I would become weaker and less productive, but I decided to challenge myself and prove to myself that life does not end after marriage.”
For many women today, motherhood still carries a negative connotation of obstructing their ambitions and desires, as they are often expected to play the main role of nurturing and raising the child. The topic generally centers around finding ‘harmony’ between being a mother and a working woman, yet never focuses on how motherhood can actually be a driver for success, or how work can actually enhance and improve the motherhood experience.
Recently, there has been a strong and emerging trend of “Mumpreneurs”, which describes mothers involved in entrepreneurial activities, and their desire to create a better environment for their family and overall community. The term also acknowledges that a lot of women starting their own businesses still play a huge role at home compared to men, and the inequality that arises from this.
Engy Moataz is a 27-year-old mother and founder of her own business ‘NG Crafts‘, which not only sells high quality handcrafted pieces, but also has a great social impact as it aims to empower the women in the community and those with special needs and diseases.
Though she graduated as a pharmacist, she started her business when she was just 25 years old, wanting to practice something she truly loves and challenge the idea that motherhood would consume too much of her life to the point of ending her career.
“I always loved handcrafts, which my grandmother taught me since I was very young, mainly teaching me crochet,” Moataz notes,” so I started doing my own handcraft pieces and selling them. But then after a while I thought of having other people with me to help me, and to help people who need financial assistance.”
“With time I realized that they depended more on me, and it started to expand and the project came to be more than just a product I am selling but also had a great social impact. I was helping women who needed to grow and develop themselves, so I thought why shouldn’t I develop it even more and help other people who also need this opportunity?” Moataz explains.
For years, craft practices were a core part of occupational therapy that emerged around the end of the First World War in response to the needs of returned soldiers. Today, it has been researched in order to better understand just how much craft is beneficial for mental health and how it works as a great stress reliever.
“If you read more on crafts, you will find that it is one of the things that can help create a lot of positive energy and release a lot stress. So I started to focus on the mental well being of the people that work with me and work with people who have disabilities or people who need financial assistance because of a disease.”
Up until this point, Moataz has hired and trained 40 people from different parts of society, such as Syrian refugees, women from Upper Egypt and women with cancer or special needs, aiming to help them both financially, emotionally and mentally.
“This is their main source of income because they usually don’t have the opportunity to apply to a job due to their level of education and skills, or because their husbands are not allowing them. So this is a good chance for them to work even from home,” Moataz adds.
She mentions the many solutions she created for women, such as helping them escape their unhappy marriages, conflicts and problems and become responsible for themselves and their own family.
“I once worked with a girl who was in her early twenties and was married, but a huge conflict happened with her husband and he stopped communicating with her completely, not even supporting her financially. So she decided to work with me and support her son independently and learn how to be responsible.”
“Right now I am working to integrate more activities for women suffering from cancer in order to give them more psychological help and to help them become more productive,” Moataz states.
NG Crafts’ mainly sells handcrafted bags and accessories, as well as customized pieces for customers. They are made from textile waste that is recycled as well as out of many other different materials, all according to their intended use and environment, such as cotton for hotter temperatures.
The business also uses natural leather for bags that is completely handmade and woven with the crochet, something Moataz says is unique and not often found in the market.
As for being a woman entrepreneur, Moataz notes that the main challenge is how women view their own selves and how the community perceives them, highlighting the role of Entreprenelle in helping her set up the business.
“The biggest challenge is your mindset and self-confidence, because as long as you convince yourself that you can do it and you are fully capable of doing so, then you will definitely be able to do so,” Moataz states.
“There will always be people discouraging you as a woman and an entrepreneur, asking you questions like, ‘but how are you balancing everything?’ or ‘will the child not be affected?’, but luckily I found the community of Entreprenelle that completely understands you.”
“You feel like you are being surrounded by people who will never underestimate you or look down on you, and they offer their help with no limits. You can talk to them all day and they would listen you, and if you need any contacts they immediately try to link you up with them. Not only that, but they are always contacting you and following up with you for any updates or problems, and that’s exactly what I need, because I need to build a sustainable business.”
Moataz hopes to reach more women in the future in society to help and empower them, and change the way people perceive them.
“I want to center the product more around the women who produce it, and expand to be able to even export abroad so as to show that this was made by Egyptian women, proving that they are strong and worthy despite all the challenges they face.”
For more information about NG Crafts, visit her page here.