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Meet the Women

Nora

Cairo, Egypt

Profession
Printing and Publishing
Business
Sparkle for Supplies and Printing Solutions
Country
Egypt
partner school
School of Business, The American University in Cairo
Women have the power inside them, and they give life to everything around them.

Business Overview:

Sparkle for Supplies and Printing was established in 1993 by my late husband. I only started managing and running the business five years ago after my husband passed away. The business specializes in designing and printing different forms of publications, promotional materials and books.

This is not a field of business that I thought I would be interested in. I had very little work experience and when my husband passed away, his family wanted to sell the business. However, given everything my husband and I had invested in the business, I was determined to keep it and run it myself.

Challenges:

My biggest challenge was entering into the business field having had minimal previous work experience. Not only was I in charge of all company responsibilities, but I had two boys that I needed to care for and sustain the family’s living.

When I took over the business it was very difficult at first. My male workforce did not believe in me and clients and suppliers expressed doubts as well. My late husband had expertise in this field and built a strong reputation throughout his years in business. When he passed away, I had to learn the printing business from the bottom up. I was unaware of the financial problems the business was facing when I first took over and I had to work with suppliers and debtors to rebuild confidence in the business.

Since the Egyptian revolution in 2011, we have experienced declining revenues, mainly as a result of clients who are no longer able to pay their bills.  In addition, the currency devaluation has made it difficult to find affordable raw materials and the weak economy has impacted sales.

Results:

10,000 Women validated what I was doing and gave me confidence for the first time. I was able to better run the business and lay strategic plans that helped me overcome the difficult economic situation that the country is currently going through. For example, I invested in buying raw materials in large quantities because I noticed that the prices were continuously rising.

10,000 Women also taught me how to read my financial statements and understand the business’ finances. This had a great impact on the business, particularly during the past two years when I had to reduce expenses. I also learned how to price my products and how to structure the organization. I developed an employee manual and started providing staff members with training.

10,000 Women helped me identify new markets, which has been important during the recent economic downturn. For example, I now print small orders of books for authors and publishing companies. Also, many 10,000 Women graduates are now my clients.

I am very dedicated to empowering other women. I provide counseling and mentoring services to young graduates and I enjoy sharing my own experience with other women to encourage them to feel confident and empowered, especially other women who have lost their spouses.

Future goals:

The printing and publishing fields are continuously changing due to the appearance of new technology. In order for me to provide the best services, I plan to invest in a new technology (two new machines) that will give me an edge in the market and will allow me to meet my clients’ requirements and expectations.

I would also like to expand internationally and export my products to other countries all over the world.