By Shaima Al Tamimi
Fatima Al-Noaimi is a bright young Emirati with a strong vision and focused ambition to become a thriving businesswoman. At the tender age of 20, Fatima has already submitted a business proposal to Khalifa Fund to Support and Develop Small & Medium Enterprises (Khalifa Fund). She is simultaneously taking a long distance degree in Finance at Harvard University and a Bachelors degree at the Higher Colleges of Technology. Fatima was picked as Sail’s Feature interview because we believe that she is one to watch out for and here is why…
Where do you find the time to study two degrees at once?
Since the classes I take at HCT are evening based, I realized that I had enough free time to occupy myself with something I will benefit from. I am very focused with what I want in life, and I spend very minimal time mingling in College with peers so I can study and graduate with two degrees once I turn 21 next year.
Tell me more about your business idea “Fraction”.
I love events, and I wanted to incorporate something fresh, useful and fun into Abu Dhabi. Fraction is basically a concept that was derived from my observation of us Emiratis/Arabs being a highly consumerist society. We tend to excessively purchase things we do not necessarily need and a lot of times we also do not end up using these products. This is where fraction comes into the picture. It will allow people to donate second hand or unused items and we will sell them at a lower cost in our premises. The idea is to have something similar to a garage sale but in a way that will be eventful, live with activity and bring children and adults from different neighborhoods together.
How did you go on about researching this?
It took me almost two months to write up a business plan that was comprehensive of research results through studying the market, surveying people and have them fill out questionnaires I designed carefully. It was quite tough getting people to respond and because I set a self-imposed deadline, I had to resort to two extra people to help with surveying people in public.
My main goal at that point was to learn as much as I could on what was needed to start up a business. So I took it as a personal project of my own, later on I thought to myself “why not present it to Khalifa Fund?” and I did.
Are you going through a hard time convincing Khalifa Fund to finance your project?
Frankly speaking, my business plan spoke for itself, and they were very impressed with the proposal. However, there was one point that was overlooked half way through the process. My age! Apparently, I have to be 21 to be eligible and we are trying to figure out a solution. The process of thoroughly reviewing applications that need to be approved in many stages, may itself take time until I turn 21, but I try to stay positive and show them that my age should not stop them from approving my project.
What if they do not approve your project?
If worse comes to worst, this experience will have been a huge learning curve for me either way. Fraction is not my only business idea, and I will definitely move on to the next project. It will not be the end for me. I am still young and there is a lot of room for me to make mistakes and learn from them.
Any plans after you graduate next year?
I definitely want to work and gain experience in the corporate world. However I do not plan on spending my youth trying to climb up the corporate ladder. It is not why I am taking two degrees either, because it is not the certificate that will prove my worth. It is me. I would rather be building and contributing towards my own success in business instead of working for other people. Not that it is a bad thing, absolutely not. However, I have my own dreams and working a lifetime for other companies is not the direction I want to take, if I plan to have my own business.
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