“The coronavirus pandemic made my time freeze. I can’t focus, or create new ideas, and my mood is totally off,” Nada Mohsen, founder of Naha Mohsen Arts, tells Egyptian Streets. “All I can feel is just stress from all that’s happening.”
For many entrepreneurs at the moment, time is a currency. Before, it was a constant challenge between valuing time or valuing constant production and selling, but what happens when we truly value time on its own?
Mohsen is part of the Entreprenelle community, an Egyptian social development and business impact organisation aiming to support women’s economic empowerment. But for women, whose percentage of owning startups is relatively low globally, the challenges can be much more complex and different: lack of equal access to markets, business networks, and more importantly, a spirit of community that pushes them to realize their own potential.
“Our role at the moment is not to focus on sales or to finish our stock, but to support each other as a community to get through this crisis,” Doaa Zakaria, founder of ‘Craftastic‘, says. “I’ve been trying to help my customers by sharing tips on how to cope or decorate their homes, and support their local brands by giving them shoutouts on my social media page. It’s a moment of solidarity for all of us.”
A Strong Community for Female Entrepreneurs
As members of the Entreprenelle community, female entrepreneurs are not provided with just educational workshops and programs to follow, but a solid and strong community that supports them both emotionally and psychologically throughout their long entrepreneurial journey.
“There are a lot of resources online, and you can register and search for various online courses at the moment, but the difference is in providing human support and a spirit of community for female entrepreneurs who face different challenges despite the great potential and energy they carry,” Roaa Ahmed, chief operating officer at Entreprenelle, says.
Research has often referred to these different challenges as the ‘invisible barriers’ that inhibit women from reaching the same position as men. According to Herminia Ibarra’s research, due to the few number of women holding top or senior positions in many fields, whether entrepreneurial or political, it becomes difficult for young women to identify with role models to imitate their traits and behaviors.
This is why mentorship that goes beyond just technical content is vital. Entreprenelle is built on this strong community element, which raise the women’s awareness and their capacities according to their own unique needs and challenges.
For an entire month, Entreprenelle arranged an April calendar of online live sessions and workshops to support their community during the crisis.
“First, we focus on their well-being before we focus on their business, because if emotionally they are not well or prepared, it will make them depressed, and this is not needed particularly if they are still in their early phase and it’s incredibly important that they take care of their mental health,” Roaa notes.
Workshops and online sessions have centered on well-being and stress management, such as the session on “Resilience for Entrepreneurs” by Tarek Wael, and an online styling workshop to get their mind off of things for a while.
As digital marketing and e-commerce is also starting to rise in the digital age, various online sessions have been organized on the importance of social media management and e-commerce, such as “The Importance of E-Commerce for Business Owners,” by Manal Negm El Din.
“Right now, we are very much focused on digital marketing, we are using our resources and Instagram accounts with high traffic to carry out online campaigns for them and to support local Egyptian brands,” Roaa adds.
Finally, workshops and online sessions will also focus technical education in regards to financial support, cost mitigation and how to avoid financial stress during the coronavirus pandemic. “We like to bring subject-matter experts, meaning that they share their experiences in regards to the topic, so that it is based on both experiences and technical knowledge and is more human-oriented,” Roaa states.
Currently, Nada Mohsen has been valuing time and using it as an opportunity to learn digital painting through online courses and tutorials, and to scale up her skills. “I am trying to benefit from the time I have as much as I can and as my energy stands, and also do some workouts here and then and watch movies or series as well,” Nada shares.
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the world 10 years forward, and more than ever, businesses and organization have been trying to meet up and adapt with the rapid changes that can suddenly occur in our time.
“We are planning to scale this upwards and provide more online content in the future even after this crisis ends. It will be titled as ‘Entreprenelle Goes Online: Online Workshops and Series,” Roaa adds. “Now is the time to make the right kinds of investment so that we all come out with the least amount of costs.