Nawal Al-Sabbagh Bouquet of Triumph
Nawal Al-Sabbagh runs one of the best-known florist and chocolatier shops in Bahrain. Her clients include royalty and some of the most discerning and wealthy families who value her artistry and quality finish. Her unique story was not always roses though – or rather, it was a rose garden with its share of thorns. Through a failed partnership in an earlier business and the urgent need to provide for her children as a single mum grew her determination to rebuild her business and succeed once again.
“I come from a family where we were not entrepreneurial but we were very independent. From childhood I was taught to find ways to solve challenges and this stood me in good stead when I faced the issue of re-starting my business.”
Bahraini women have an in-built ability to surmount challenges, she says and organisations such as the Supreme Council for Women and UNIDO tap this strength and lend wings to their ambitions.
“We Bahraini women have a long history of independence and entrepreneurship but it needed to be re-shaped to fit the 21st century context. For this, UNIDO is an excellent mentor and a teacher for the new generation. It is a safety net for entrepreneurs and a guide for those of us who want to expand our established business.”
UNIDO has a clear step-by-step strategy to support women in Bahrain since it is involved in drafting women’s empowerment policies such as the 2009 drafting of the economic component of the Bahrain National Women Empowerment Strategy.
Nawal’s inspiring story of business reconstruction began when she found her earlier partnership falling apart just when she was also in the midst of a personal life crisis.
“Many of my former clients from the earlier flower business contacted me and asked me to handle their special event décor but I was unable to do so because I needed capital for flower and chocolate. I didn’t want to overload myself with loans although family and friends wanted to help. I am an artist and in all the turmoil, I had turned to painting to calm me. I sold these paintings to raise the capital and contacted my old suppliers. To my delight, they were happy to extend credit and help me to start again because they believed in my ability to succeed.”
Initially, Nawal worked from her home, supplying tastefully arranged flowers and gifts of top-quality chocolates to VIP clients. Her big break came when she went to BBK to negotiate a bank overdraft. It was Ramadan and the PR department was preparing to place an order of Eid sweets for VIP customers. Nawal persuaded them to use her artistic talent to create a custom-made Eid greeting and also her chocolate supplies.
“Entrepreneurs must always watch for opportunities. I was able to convince BBK of my reliability as a supplier and as a good SME client. I never used the overdraft but got a great client in BBK!”
The three secrets to business success, according to Nawal are to build trust in customers and suppliers because both are your partners in success; to offer quality at a reasonable price always and to always believe in oneself.
“UNIDO’s structured approach to enterprise creation and growth means that we have access to excellent counselling and global exposure. This makes the UNIDO Arab International Center for Entrepreneurship & Investment successful in its nurturing of women entrepreneurs and stimulating economic empowerment of women.”
Nawal is currently working with UNIDO to expand and enter the franchise business for her florist and chocolatier brand.
“You have to explore ways of reinventing your business and UNIDO has been very helpful in helping me to plan this next step into franchising. In this business, nothing smells sweeter than success!”