This woman has successfully navigated the tricky waters of owning and running a business in a tricky male-dominated scenery.
“Historically men have held the helm in the business world, providing visible examples of what it means to be a leader, and link women’s shy manifestation to the fact that they often struggled to find other female role models who can share their career paths and experiences,” some argue.
How about nowadays; is it the case in Lebanon?
According to Cherie Blair Foundation For Women, the situation for women entrepreneurs in Lebanon is more favourable than other countries in the Middle East. However, female entrepreneurship in Lebanon is still relatively low and the majority of women-owned businesses in the country operate in the informal sector, making it more difficult for women to access formal finance from banks. Women tend to use their personal savings to start their businesses and expansion is limited to investments that can be made from subsequent earnings.
Yet, to many, this was never a hindrance! We can now look around and see that women entrepreneurs are the fastest growing segment of Business owners in Lebanon. They are becoming the major spot in the media and they’re making powerful strides in real life; they are even shaping the future with what they are doing, and surely becoming role models to many if not to all.
BIM POS celebrates month of March with entrepreneur Aline Kamakian; let’s have a look at what one key word could mean to her in relation to her business story, entrepreneurial journey and professional advice.
Oh back then, it was insurance saleswoman. I remember my first sale was an insurance policy to a company manager here in Lebanon. My first job is probably the most important decision I have ever made in my career. Seriously, you learn so much in your first job about what you want for your future career and what you don’t want; it is that time when you know you haven’t reached satisfaction yet and you still need to thrive.
I was working on my own; funding was never from an outside source. It was self-funding all the time. Despite this challenge, I am very content and proud that the company has survived for 15 years now. And this goes back to credibility, good management from the team and I and of course its innovative concept. You can find Armenian food in nearly all restaurants in Lebanon due to Mayrig putting it on the culinary map.
If we say credibility?
Well, it surely never comes easy; it takes time, perseverance and an inviting reputation. Honesty is the key to credibility next to being extremely transparent with the client and with yourself. I believe what helped build credibility is how I decided what my authenticity lies in; I needed to choose which values I was ready to commit to unwaveringly. These assets are a must-have in any business in order to strive and be credible.
Working hard is a lifestyle, you either have it or not. As entrepreneurs, we have a real need to wear many hats, especially in the beginning. It requires us to wake up early, set goals, and actually take action towards our achievement; it also means that we need to be persistent. I remember waking up early to finish all restaurant related deals, then moving onto the insurance sales and management and ending the day at the restaurant again.
Positivity; positivity; positivity. No matter what happens, a positive mindset within the run of the mill, a happy face and hard work are what kept me rolling through hard times. Interestingly, positivity builds resilience over time, and is contagious that everybody you deal with is infected by it; how rewarding is that!
I am very glad that Mayrig is a concept by itself that went down its own path; it is an experience and a culinary adventure. Armenian cuisine was just tucked in the houses of Armenian mothers. Now the mothers cook for Mayrig and to the world. I have learned that it is not smart to dwell on other competitor’s success while they don't have your passion or your know-how. The zeal I have for my business is what I call my secret sauce.
Tell us about the Regrets
Well yes! It’s trusting blindly some partners and not speaking up when things were not the way they should be. You know now I came to a conclusion that it’s very important to be aware of your boundaries and to know the difference between stretching yourself for growth and allowing others to push you past your comfort zone. I should have drew a line in the sand, and as important issues came up, I should have taken a stand and decided which things I should be unwavering on.
Now comes “failure” I believe the most difficult part to discuss perhaps?
Well, listen I firmly believe the fear of failure limits any chances to scale the business; it could be that it compels one to stay in the same markets, not to expand the offers, not to hire more personnel, not to grow sales too far or too fast. Luckily I overcame this fear early throughout my entrepreneurship journey. We are now an incredible team; the members are exquisite. They pull it through thick and thin as if the business is personally theirs. When life knocks you down, the best thing to do is to cry at first, then wipe the tears and walk tall. Failure is the most expensive and impactful teacher.
The point is that you just never know what surprises await you, but you have to do your best to be ready for the unknown. Some things are out of your control, but others can be prepared for if you think ahead. I knew that the concept was a success. The unexpected was the love of people and their loyalty to the business; the smiles, the good times and the 15 years of success. I would have never dreamt to be here now.
Share with us a lesson
Everyday is a chance to learn and get smarter. I have learnt to say NO at the right moment and in the right circumstances.
… And Aline’s Business Advice is:
Make use of Technology without abusing it. Always keep an eye over finance, trust in your team, never discriminate, always accept anyone whatever their gender, color, sexual orientation or nationality is. Always give positive praise or constructive criticism, and never use negative words.