Every week, the Soukie Speaks’ Club Courage series celebrates a brave entrepreneur in the Arab startup ecosystem, by sharing their story and the impact that their startup is having on the community. This week we interviewed Rola Fayyad, founder and CEO of Friendture.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your educational experience and how you got into tech and entrepreneurship.
My name is Rola Fayyad and I am the founder & CEO of Friendture, an app that allows you
to create and manage your social activities with family and friends in one central location. Before Friendture, I worked in commercial management in the travel industry for 11 years. After years in that field, I used my extensive experience to co-found MICEit, an events booking engine for the MENA region, which was seedfunded by Oasis 500. In 2014, MICEit was selected as one of the top 10 innovative startups in the Gulf region, by Hadafi, a women’s entrepreneurship competition and program, which I am still an ambassador for. I am also a founding member of the Girls in Tech –Jordan chapter, which focuses on empowering, engaging and educating women in the technology sector.
2. Do you think that there is a lack of women in tech in the Arab world? If so, why?
Recent statistics show that the number of women in the tech industry is increasing in the MENA region. In fact, everyday, I’m seeing more and more successful companies being run by women, since it’s easier for housewives, for example, to set up a technology business at home. In Jordan, women entrepreneurs are emerging and becoming leaders and the great thing is that we all support each other. The gap is there, but I believe that it will decrease year after year.
3. What are the biggest challenges facing women in this field and do you see any efforts to resolve these issues in the MENA region?
I wouldn’t say there are many challenges, in our era things have changed. However, the equality problem can be felt at times. Some people argue that women entrepreneurs are being empowered just to showcase that the Middle East region is becoming more modern, which I believe is nonsense of course. The challenges that I have seen are restricted to specific communities, where women aren’t empowered to believe that they can be business owners and they lack support from their families. That being so, efforts are being made by many local influencers and, occasionally, governmental entities to change this. By increasing the awareness of opportunities that are available and educating communities and the society in general, I believe that we can have a positive impact on the women who are facing these challenges out there.
4. What advice would you give to women who want to enter the tech field in the Arab world?
Don’t be worried about the gender factor! Ignore the naysayers and participate in any business opportunity that comes your way. Dream big, because you have nothing to lose and make sure to work 24/7 on growing your idea into a validated business. And more importantly, don’t forget that failure is awesome! In Life, we only expect to succeed and move on, but failing is a reality check, a learning process, which highly benefits you and your company. The ultimate key to success is to learn from your mistakes, move on and become stronger than you were before.
5. What project(s) are you working on at the moment and how can people learn more about you and your project(s)?
I am working on Friendture, which is a fun social app to create, invite and co-ordinate group activities with all your friends in one app. No more 100 WhatsApp groups, no more chasing friends and nagging them to finalize an outing! You choose, we gather and say goodbye forever to inefficient groups and hello fun! Make sure to follow me on Twitter, where I am actively posting information about my projects and future plans. Also,don’t forget to follow Friendture on all of the social media accounts below!
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/FriendTure/
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