25 April 2019

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Mixing the right ingredients for success

Bara'a al Thawra - SANAD
Bara’a al-Thawra

“Financial independence was a bold dream. With the Microfund for Women, it became a reality. It makes me proud to see people use my products, and to see how my story is inspiring other women to start a business, too.” 

Within a few seconds upon meeting Bara’a al-Thawra, one is struck by the unique combination of focus, determination, contagious enthusiasm, and the strong sense that she will let nothing get in the way of achieving her goals.

Such as becoming financially independent by starting a business. It was in her third year at the Hashemite University, near her home town of Zarqa, that al-Thawra saw her future in organic beauty products. Shortly after graduating in 2013, she founded her company, Tabeetna, with just 20 dinars (a little under 30 US dollars).

At first, al-Thawra prudently concentrated on soaps and lotions soaps. The ingredients for her formulas came from local farmers and the family kitchen was her laboratory. Rather than opening her own store, she sold her products through local shops and salons as well as social media. 

Within three years, the Tabeetna brand had earned the trust of a growing clientele. Yet al-Thawra was a one-woman operation; she needed to scale up and hire staff to help with production. Banks wouldn’t loan her even the relatively modest sum she required, however. “They all said it was too risky, and, unfortunately, gender still plays a role here,” she remarks.

Enter Microfund for Women, the market-leading microfinance institute in Jordan with a focus on gender lens investing – and a partner of the Finance in Motion-advised SANAD Fund for MSME. Together, SANAD and Microfund for Women have been helping entrepreneurs like al-Thawra achieve their goals since joining forces in 2015.

The first loan of JOD 1,000 (about USD 1,410) in 2017 was for high-quality ingredients. The second one in 2018 enabled al-Thawra to hire staff. “Besides providing just the financing I needed, Microfund for Women is also opening doors for Tabeetna at bazaars and exhibitions, where I get to share my experiences and inspire other women to start a business, too.”