Khartoum- (Sudanow) - If success and how to go after it could be personified in one individual, then it would be one lady by the name of Samia Shabbo.
Cashing an impressive record of achievements, still Ms Shabbo, a Sudanese belle façade, with a clear frank look, and persuasive personality, introduces herself at the moment as Head of the Sudanese Center for Developing Businesswomen.
She stands out, her achievements will show later in this brief chapter, as a symbol of yet another lady who balances her White-Dove amid the tumult high waves of business crisis and tough competition from peers and rivals, alike, to the shores of success.
Yet like any other able captain of ship that sets in venturing in a field otherwise considered men’s domain, she never hang her anchor, and thus in a constant journey for discoveries and brining good to her community and to her gender.
Ms Shabbo seems to be saying what she has achieved so far was nothing but the tip of the iceberg. And one is left with the question of what; a young woman of her age achieving so much could still be planning to do, what remains to be achieved afterwards? Suffices to say that she tells me that “I was born in 1964”- something you have to reckon with as to her personality !!!
It is true that Sudanese woman has played remarkable roles in different fields throughout the country’s history. Today you name the field and you have it. She has always been alongside the man in pushing the country’s development wheel.
Sudanese woman has been a successful teacher, nurse, doctor, lawyer, judge, ambassador, parliamentarian, officer in the Sudanese Army- a senior officer for that matter- policewoman, and business woman and above all else a dedicated mother brining up an enlighten generation, a generation prepared for the future. In fact, she has and is always present at all domains of life.
“We believe in the ability of the Sudanese woman to actively contribute to development and building of the homeland, and therefore we will work together to achieve our aspired goals”, Mr. Shabbo, modest, active, and intelligent woman with a high political profile as an active member in the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), speaking to Sudanow, said in a review of the center’s activities and different objectives.
“We use creative and modern means to speed up the growth rate for the businesswomen and their small projects based on the changes in the economic systems. We work to build strong economic partnerships to distribute the benefits, reduce the risks and build a network of economic relations for the local businesswomen through establishment of a data-base for their institutions to link them with international markets”, she added.
Now that sounds business and serious business, a language and a way of thinking rarely tasted in a community, that had until recently seen very little, if anything in women venturing this domain but decorative role.
The centre, established in early 2009 has trained over 400 ladies on different activities including arts of “etiquette and protocol”, “successful project planning”, “marketing skills” and “fine arts”, “time management skills,” “strategic planning” and creative skills and arts and, she added with a broad radiating smile, “ a course on baking and printing”, she said.
She added that the center brings together all categories of women including widows, vanguards, and pioneers, together with widowed rich women whose husbands left them companies and businesses, adding that all these categories seek the support of the center.
It is not only at home that she focuses her attention, business is business, in or outside the Sudan, she hints, that is why the centre, she explained, sought the skill of the Sudanese trade point which helped the women at the center get commercial information and learn about the equitable available opportunities for them at the external markets together with how to promote for their business through commercial electronic sites.
She said their efforts in this connection were not confined to internal institutions but extended to cover external Arab unions and associations in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), adding that they have established strong relations with an UAE businesswoman, Salwa al-Shaibani, to establish a company and that they also have partnerships in China.
“We intend to present models of successful women and a distinguished industry that goes beyond the distinguished elite businesswomen. We will provide the best factors of success for the women at the center. In fact we combat the harmful traditions in our communities and at the same time work to manage and exploit the time in what is useful for the women and their communities”, Shabbo stressed with conviction and zeal of the youth, and wisdom of a mature lady.
She explained that provision of fund for the businesswomen and development of their skills topped their concerns, adding that the center is working to build relations for its members with all the economic institutions in the country, namely the banks including the Sudanese-French, Savings Bank, The Bank of Khartoum, and Family Bank in addition to all community and development institutions that could assist the businesswomen to move yet further improving what they have and exploring new horizons.
To leverage the bonds and inform with the activities of the businesswomen, Shabo said the center initiated the idea of Souk al-Sabit (Saturday Market) and festivals.
She disclosed that a festival for the Sudanese perfumes would be organized during March 1-8, 2011, with the participation of more than 50 women of local perfume makers to compete in displaying many of the Sudanese women’s requirements in this field.
She said the proposed motto for the festival would be “Sudanese perfumes towards internationalism”, adding that they were keen to present the best of the Sudanese perfumes of high specifications.
Shabo, meanwhile, said that the center was planning to honor Sudan the Spouse of the President of the Republic-lady Fatima Khalid in recognition of her great support for the center and its activities.
“Our Lady last year inaugurated Souk al-Sabit which continues to present products of the businesswomen each week in Khartoum State. The idea will be generalized in the other states that alone deserve to be recognized and honored”, Shabo explained.
The markets and festivals tend to develop and upgrade the skills of the businesswomen and provide facilities and small funding from the banks. The market has achieved a great success as it availed the opportunity for the businesswomen to know one another and exchange their experiences and expanded their activities from the narrow framework of the housing areas to external markets, and above all else contributed to supporting poor categories in the communities.
The Souk al-Sabit displays various products of perfumes, taobs, bed sheets, cosmetics and whatever relates to woman and the family
“The Souk al-Sabit (Saturday market) is an initiative by the Sudanese center for developing businesswomen which tends to build a comprehensive leading and creative woman and decision-maker”, said Shabo.
In the meantime, Madam Alawiya Mahjoub Ahmed Salih, a Sudanese businesswoman, told Sudanow that the market opened her windows for other fields.
Madam Alawiya said she owned three beauty centers, but said that after participating in the market, she managed to move other fields like cloth designing, bed sheets and local perfumes.
She said the market has greatly helped her to better market her products and develop their quality through the standing competition in the market.
Madam Alawiya said that she has previously participated in the Red Sea and Dubai shopping festivals, adding that there were pledges for them to participate in fairs in China and that a twin-ship would be established between the businesswomen market and other similar markets in other Arab countries.
She stressed that the external participations reflect the real position of the Sudanese woman, particularly that the Sudanese woman is known for her creativity.
“Such external participations avails the opportunity for the Sudanese women to reflect their creativity and set toward internationalism through exporting their products and creative works”, Madam Alawiya Mahjoub said.
In the meantime Shabo said that regarding the lease of the display table, the center considers the condition of the participants and provides them facilities in terms of payment.
She added that the center provides reductions for the first three months and if the client completed six months, she would be given a prize in a form of a free two-way ticket to an Arab county such as Egypt, Dubai or others together with a reduction in the rent fees.
The center in May 2010 organized the Sudanese Toab festival which witnessed a remarkable rush that led to organization of a competition for the wining Toab, which was bought by the First Lady Fatima Khalid to encourage the businesswomen.
Ms. Shabo still maintains great ambitions and hopes that the Sudanese women’s participation with the man would reach %50 instead of the %25 granted by the Presidency of the Republic.
She said she was looking forward to the Sudanese women venturing other fields to reflect their embodied capabilities besides her contribution to the economic activity.
She further expressed her satisfaction over contributions of the Sudanese women, saying “We have available opportunities that we must exploit for building and rehabilitating our homeland and increase the living standard of the Sudanese citizen. Investment does not have borders. We are partners with the men and therefore we should acquire skills”.
Shabo further praised the great role being played by the Sudanese women in building the future generations.
She said the center also has many human activities, explaining that the center has contributed to release of many female prisoners from Omdurman prison.
She said the center was embarked on organizing a symposium to discuss prevention of imprisoning any woman for inability to pay her debts.
In this respect, many banks have commended commitment of the Sudanese women to payback their loans or funds, hailing the Sudanese businesswomen for funding many of the political activities in many occasions.
Shabo, meanwhile, said the southern Sudanese women are similar to the women in the north and that there are no geographical or cultural barriers between them, adding that the standing economic interests and joint projects would achieve the unity, which failed to be achieved through the polling boxes.
“We work together and cooperate and we have participated in the Arab Investors Conference in Juba”, said Shabo.
A leap towards internationalism:
The Sudanese Center for Developing Businesswomen has made wide strides towards internationalism through the implementation of a number of joint projects with their Arab counterparts and welcomed those who are interested in investing in the country.
“The center worked out a number of joint projects with businesswomen from Lebanon, United Arab Emirates and other Arab countries”, Shabo told Sudanow.
She added that one of these projects was the establishment of a great commercial center (Mall) in Khartoum to be funded by a prominent Lebanese businesswoman named Ms.. Al-Hariry.
Shabo explained that she met Ms. Bahiya al-Hariry, a prominent Lebanese businesswoman and Deputy Chairperson of Tayar al-Mustaqbal (Future Trend), during the center’s participation at the first forum for businesswomen in Beirut in 2010, and conveyed to her desire of the Sudanese businesswomen to establish a joint commercial venture in which businesswomen from the two countries would participate.
She said she asked her to fund the center, provided that the businesswomen embark on preparing the land and following up the administrative investment procedures, adding that Ms.. Al-Hariry has agreed to fund the establishment of the biggest Mall in Khartoum.
Additionally, she said that Head of the Arab Businesswomen’s Purse, Ms. Randa Buri, has also agreed to invest in Sudan through many projects.
She said she also met Deputy Chairperson of Al Walid bin Tilal Charitable Foundation Ms. Laila Al Salh who affirmed that a branch for the foundation would be established in Sudan with the aim to support studies and symposia which encourage dialogue among the different world religions and contribute to preserving the Islamic and Arab artistic heritage, and to help lessen poverty and hunger
About Sudanese Center for Developing Businesswomen:
The center has a huge membership with over 500 members. The center’s membership is divided into three categories: the beginners, the medium and the distinguished membership. Each of these categories has a certain membership card with a specific color where the white card is for the beginner and the pink for the distinguished and each has a different program and working plan.
The center’s membership terms include presenting three passport size photos, an ID copy, residence certificate and a sum of 100 SDGs for one year membership.
The center tends to develop and train the businesswomen through creative and modern means to speed up growth rate of small projects and inform them with how to form economic partnerships to distribute the benefits and reduce the risks.
The center also tends to inform with the general policies and changes in the systems which economically concern the women. It further works to build an international economic relations network for the local businesswomen and link them with international markets besides a data-base for the Sudanese businesswomen’s institutions.
Samia Shabo- Personal Profile: -
Name: Samia Hussein Mohamed Shabo
Nickname: Samia Shabo
Date of birth: 1964
Place of birth: Omdurman-Abbasiya
Residence: Amarat (1st Extension), 55th Avenue.
Marital status: married and mother of four (Mai, Malaz, Salah and Yousif).
Hobbies: Writing- reading- swimming
Education and qualifications:
· Cairo University- Khartoum Branch (currently El Neilain University) - Faculty of Arts- Philosophy Department- 1985.
· Secondary level- Omdurman High Secondary School
· Primary school- Abbasiya Primary School
Training sessions: -
· A training session of People’s Defense Forces (PDF)
· A workshop of World Trade Organization on Evaluation of Needs for Facilitation of Trade in Khartoum 2009.
· A training session on Arts of Negotiation and Academic Empowerment- enrichment of specialized training- Egypt 2009.
· A training session on Work pressures and Crisis Management Skills- Cairo 2008.
· A training session on Negotiation, Empowerment and Persuasion Diplomacy Skills – Cairo 2007.
· A training session on Etiquette and protocol – Cairo 2007.
· A training session on self and emotional breakdown management- Cairo 2007
· A training session on Successful Manager- Kifah Fayad Institute- United Arab Emirates (UAE) 2004.
· A training session on Arts of Shopping- International Training Institute- UAE 2004.
· A training session on Successful Manager- UAE 2003.
· A Diploma on Photography- Sudan National Training Institute- 1999
· A training session on Arts of Photography- Sudanese Color Photography Labs 1999
· A training session on Photo Print on pots- Photo kina Fair – Germany 1984
· A Diploma on Arts of Beauty- Tawfiqya Institute for Beauty of Arts- Cairo 1987
Participations and posts with National Congress Party (NCP):
· Chairperson of Regional and International Organizations’ Department at the NCP External Relations Secretariat.
· Deputy Chairperson of Businesswomen Organ at the NCP Businesswomen Secretariat
· Member of the Consultative Council of the NCP Businesswomen Secretariat
· Member of the NCP Economic Sector
· Member of the NCP Political Sector
· Member of the NCP External Relations Sector
· Member of the NCP Women Sector
Business accomplishments and posts: -
· Chairperson of Board of Directors of Samia Shabo Group for Trade and Services.
· Chairperson of Board of Directors of Jumira Investment Company.
· Owner of Jumira Commercial Enterprises.
· Chairperson of Board of Directors of Luza al-Humira Beauty Centers’ Group
Voluntary participations and posts: -
· Chairperson of Board of Trustees of the Sudanese Agency for Mine Action and Development
· Chairperson of the Sudanese-Swiss Friendship Society
· Participating at the preparatory meetings for founding the Arab Businesswomen Council – Arab League- Cairo- September 1998.
· Founder and member of the Arab Businesswomen Council
· Member of the African Businesswomen Association
· Member of the International Businesswomen Association
· Founder of Sudanese Businesswomen’s Secretariat
· Founder of the Sudanese Center for Developing Businesswomen
· Deputy Secretary of Businesswomen Secretariat at the Sudanese Businessmen Association
· Member of the Consultative Council of the Minister of Communications
· Member of the Sudanese-Syrian Council
· Agent for Afro-Technical Company for Plane Manufacturing and the first to sign a contract for purchasing a factory for light planes for Sudan, namely for Sudan Master Technology Company.
· Exclusive agent of the International American Medical Center for treatment and training in America and the American medical apparatus and medicines.
· Participated at the preparatory meetings for the Arab Businesswomen Council- Arab League- Cairo- September 1998.
Fairs she organized for authenticating Sudanese Toab (traditional Sudanese clothing for women): -
· First fair for Sudanese Toab – Friendship Hall Khartoum- 1994.
· Sudanese Toab Fair- Hilton Hotel Khartoum- 1998.
· Sudanese Toab Fair- Amarat (1st extension Khartoum), 27th Avenue- 2005.
· Participated at all sessions of Khartoum International Fair- 1995-2005.
Personal initiatives and projects that were for first time in Sudan: -
· First project of Afrah el Eid at Khartoum International Fair to support poor families- 1990.
· First Sudanese woman to organize a fair for Sudan outside the country where she organized Sudan’s participation at Dubai Shopping Festival through organization of Sudan’s participation with the Sudanese village at the festival- 1999-2004.
· First founder and operator of a factory for Islamic costume in Sudan- 1975.
· Founder of the Sudanese Businesswomen Association in 1993.
· First Sudanese woman participant at the funding of the Arab Businesswomen Council 1998.
· Founder of the first beauty center in Sudan (Luza al-Humira centers) where only women work- 1987.
· First importer of the Cat Eye (road reflectors) to Sudan in 2003.
· First Sudanese woman photographer 1987.
· First Sudanese woman video shooter 1987
· First importer of computers for Sudan National Tele-Communication’s project of a computer for each family.
External participations: -
Conferences and fairs: -
· Summit Conference- Kuwait 2009
· Sudanese-Syrian Council’s Forum 2004.
· Agricultural Fair- Doha 1995
· Sudanese village- Dubai International Shopping Festival 1999-2004
· Organizing Sudan’s participation at Summer Wonders Festival- Qatar 2003.
· Arab Businesswomen Conference- Egypt
· Arab Businesswomen Forum- Cairo 2002
· Arab Businesswomen Forum- Kuwait 2001.
· Arab Businesswomen Forum- Bahrain 2001
· Arab Businesswomen Forum- Abu Dhabi 2003
· Islamic Countries’ Forum- Syria 2005.
· Chairperson and founder of Sudanese Center for Developing Businesswomen
· Chairperson of the Economic Chamber at the Sudanese Chambers of Commerce’s Union
· Member of the Consultative Council of the Sudanese Minister of Investment.
She participated at all conferences of businesswomen at the following countries: -
London, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Lebanon, Abu Dhabi, Sharijah, Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Turkey, India, China, Malaysia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Switzerland.
Amani Gandoul/ Mohamed Osman/ photos by Mahjoub M Hassan