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There are no specific qualities that set one globally accepted definition for an entrepreneur. There are various definitions with different sets of characteristic of an entrepreneur as each entrepreneur can be categorized differently based on his or her personality, character, background, etc. The set of characteristics that I found related and applies on the entrepreneur I had chosen is the study done by Welsh & White (1981).
The entrepreneur I chose to write and analyze the entrepreneurial characteristics is a long time good friend of mine from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who became one of the most prominent influential jewelry designers in the Middle East: Sheikha Fatima Bint Mohammed Bin Sager Al Qassimi gave me her valuable time to answer few questions and analyze her character.
Sheikha Fatima comes from a dry desert region Ras Al Khaimah which is one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She was born on born on 8th January 1980. She comes from a royal family and is the grand daughter of the ruler of Ras Al Khaima. Since her childhood, Sheikha Fatima was an artist to heart. She was raised having the artistic genetics characteristics from her family, as many of her family members are very talented and successful artists and designers known locally in the UAE and internationally. Not only did Sheikha Fatima come from a royal family, but also from a Bedouin tribe.
Sheikha Fatima had studied her BSc in Business management and marketing at one of the best Universities in the United Arab of Emirates- University of Sharjah. She found interest at an early age in jewelry designs and her enthusiasm in establishing her own business and creations made her strive to take her diploma in Jewelry business management at Higher Collages of Technology in the UAE to improve her managerial skills before she establishes her own jewelry shop in the years 2004-2006. In 2006, Sheikha Fatima got her Diploma from International Gemological Institute (IGI).
With most of her family members talented artists and designers, Sheikha Fatima Al Qassimi is a natural artist. However, being influenced by her family and the people around her made her eager to start a small business of her own. One of the reasons that has influenced Fatima was her all time role model and the person who ruled and progressed Dubai with his vision, the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the father of the current ruler of Dubai who is now continuing with the developments and has bought the small city into international lime light his highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum. Sheikha Fatima admires the risk Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed took in changing Dubai from a dry desert to a well-developed city that never sleeps.
After graduating with honors from design school, Sheikha Fatima took the risk in establishing her first small jewelry design business, which she named "Duwan" which is a local jewelry shop in the UAE. The name "Duwan" is derived from the word 'Dana' which is the prevalent pearl in size and value. It was slightly difficult for her to establish big in the beginning so she decided to start a small business as she took the risk in investing from her own personal money and spent a lot of hours in managing her small business right from scratch. Sheikha Fatima wanted to be successful by marking her name with the giant world designer. She was able at initiating change and also capable to identify an opportunity by using her creativity and ability to turn it into reality. (Kirzner, 1980)
As gaining profit was not her main goal, this exemplifies from her personality that she's a person who seeks for achievement (McClelland, 1961)
The myth that 'some entrepreneurs are born and not made' can be well applied on Sheikha Fatima. The genetic traits she acquired made her one of the born entrepreneurs who are born for a purpose and to achieve their goals.
Like most of her family members, Sheikha Fatima wanted to be the boss. She does not want any one to be her superior and by establishing a business of her own, Sheikha Fatima is definitely a hard working individual, who has the traits to manage, multitask and operate a business. She gains the managerial skill from her grandfather who was the ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. She took advantage of her talent and managerial skills by starting her small jewelry design business. Starting up a new business was not a problem at all because she is financially stable and comes from the royal family but she did risk spending from her personal money in business that's luxurious and requires a large amount of capital. Even though Sheikha Fatima did not face any problems financially, she went through a phase of difficulties. One of the difficulties that she faced and had over come was to show her presence in the busy and highly competitive market of Dubai that has many jewelry designers in the same field. With her confidence and creative unique designs, Sheikha Fatima had over come this difficulty and stood out by being the first designer in the region to design jewelry that is arabesque inspired. Moreover, a woman and from the royal family that are very much protective about the women was also another difficulty that has to do with culture as it was hard to make the people around her believe in her work; and also she faced difficulty in working till late hours in Dubai while her house is in Ras al Khaimah. A person that has been inspired by a man who had changed a dry land to a developed one made her overcome all the difficulties. People in her family supported her idea that has been translated to a real venture of her own.
Her creations are simply beautiful, sophisticated and elegant. The unique pieces satisfies her clients who are mostly local and from the Arabian Gulf. "Duwan" jewelry design is a small business but has its loyal clients. She was able to capture customers, as her shop is located in Mall of Emirates in Dubai, which is a strategic location that attracts middle class as well as high-class customers. By advertising her work through social media (facebook, twitter, etc), sheihka Fatima was able to capture more than three thousand costumers and build a customer based relationship. She also received moral support from the ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum who supports local talents and young entrepreneurs in Dubai.
Fatima Al Qassimi is neither a craftsman entrepreneur nor an opportunistic entrepreneur, as she did not have any problem with starting the business as she came from a wealthy royal family. However, she can be related to very few characteristics of an opportunistic entrepreneur as she has gained wide education in the field of her venture- a jewelry designer and also a manager of her own business (Smith, 1967).
Sheikha Fatima uses her creative skills to design custom jewelry for her clients. What makes her designs special is that she likes to grant her clients a connection to the piece created or through the story built into her designs. Most of her creations have pearls that represents the place from which is coming from. The pearl used in most of her jewelry collections is from Ras Al Khaima- the first pearl cultivating farm in the Arabian Gulf region and the Middle-East. As the manager of her own business, she makes sure that each piece of pearl is up to highest standards so they are graded by the labs in Switzerland and Japan to ensure high standards. The traditional local influence in her creations attracted most of the Arabs in the Middle East.
From her small business "Duwan" with her jewelry piece ranging from 400 dhs to 4000 dhs, the ambitious passionate designer was eager to expand and glow in a market that has high competition. She now is the founder and owner of "Sough" jewelry shop and gold smith.
Her entrepreneurial role:
Sheikha Fatima took advantage of her talent as an artist and her love for gemstones and jewelry design to a very well small-established jewelry shop that was later expanded. It was not difficult for her to start a business financially and managerially as she had the entrepreneur traits in her. Her willingness to mark her name amongst the well known competing jewelry designers and her desire to succeed in her work made her one of the most influential jewelry designers in the Middle-east.
Her technical-functional role:
Sheikha Fatima has graduated with honors from design school. She is a natural artist and also learned to make the jewelry herself. Due to expansion of her business from the small jewelery shop "Duwan" to her jewelry shop and gold smith "Sough", it is very difficult to make all of her designs by her own hands. She monitors her craftsmen and supervises their work to make sure the pieces created are up to the standards of her designs. She also travels across the globe to purchase the world's finest gems.
Her managerial role:
Being a woman and from the royal family, sheikha Fatima-a hard working wife and entrepreneur managed to be a leader and start from scratch. Sheikha Fatima designs with inspiration, created her line of collections and also deals with common issues like manages the workshops and buys gem stones from around the world. She also makes sure that each piece of gemstone is of high quality and up to international standards so labs from Switzerland and Japan grade each stone.
The women in Emirates are known for their love to gold and pearls and Sheikha Fatima never fails to satisfy their need for them to stand out in their occasions and gatherings. Combining the traditional Arabic twist in the elegant western design craved for herself a niche locally at the beginning and globally now. Fatima is young, creative and ambitious. She competed in a market that had experienced jewelry designers but adding the traditional Arabic twist and her sophisticated elegant touch in all her designs made her stand out in a market that is highly competitive at the same time supported talented local entrepreneurs. Fatima al qassimi uses creativity in her inspirational designs by bringing together the amazing Arabic calligraphy in her designs.
"They achieved their vision. This is the spirit of union, to have a vision and the inspired energy to achieve it, this is how history is made."- Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 2012
Sheikha Fatima became the first local jewelry designer in UAE creating arabesque inspired jewelries. She makes sure that each of her created pieces is unique and has a beautiful inspirational story.
Sheikha Fatima gets satisfaction when she sees women glamour themselves with her designs. She is a confident positive woman who works with high enthusiasm, inspiration and her sincerity to her work. That exemplifies the set of characters that Welsh & White (1981) put together to describe an entrepreneur.
From the above analysis it can be illustrated that Sheikha Fatima uses her right brain as she is intuitive, artistic, emotional, and imaginative and gets influenced easily.
"The most successful leader is the one most capable of motivating his people, encouraging them to strive harder and be creative to distinguish themselves"-His highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
As for the future plans, Sheikha Fatima has set a target to achieve it with high hopes. She is a woman with vision who wants to establish a design house were young talented designers can leave a mark in the design arena. With her leadership traits and as a motivator, she also is willing to sponsor local talented artists by giving them an opportunity to experience the success she has accomplished.
The following is a phone call interview made on 26 October 2012:
What had inspired you to become an entrepreneurship in a highly competitive market?
Inspired by role model- Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed AlMaktoum
Love for art as it runs in the family
Interest in creating personalized pieces with gemstones
Do you have a particular hobby that has to do with your business?
Artist since childhood, love to paint and draw. Also had interest in collecting gemstones at an early age.
Did your family/society support your idea before translating it into a well-established business?
Got moral support from family members as most of them are artists and designers and have their own established business. Also got support from society as they support local talents and encourage them to compete and succeed.
When you started your business, what were the difficulties faced?
One of the difficulties was competing in a market that had experienced designers
As a woman and from the royal family, it was hard to make people believe in her work
Arab culture regarding staying out of the house till late
Did you have any financial problems at the beginning?
No financial problems, but took the risk in spending from her personal money to start up her business.
Is there a demand for your jewelry design abroad?
Got offers from USA, Europe and North America. Considering to work on the offers
People in the west have interest to learn about Arab culture and about women in the Arab world.
Do u create your pieces by yourself in all aspects?
Yes, but after expansion, I supervise my craftsmen to make sure the piece is created as per my design and standards.
Do you have any plans for the future?
Build a design house to attract young designers
Sponsor talented artists to give them an opportunity to experience success