In this article, the author describes the annual initiative in her store (Spontiphoria) done to support small businesses.
It was late 2014, and I was sitting and thinking of the franchise-savvy nature of the average Dubai consumer. At that point in time, international brands and franchises reigned supreme. Dubai was all about the next big international name to hit our retail and F&B (Food and Beverages) space, and the appreciation for locally-developed concepts wasn’t as mature or developed as it should be.
As a small business owner, I wanted to support other small businesses out there by collaborating and partnering with them, and that’s when I got the idea for the “Annual Small Business Month” (ASBM), which we launched a few months later in April of 2015.
Dubai was full of creative female entrepreneurs operating small businesses out of their home. Their products were handmade and unique and many of these entrepreneurs were balancing their businesses with raising their families. The only outlets for them to sell were online and at craft fairs. There was a sizeable gap of their representation in brick and mortar stores. So, we launched our ASBM as a chance for these entrepreneurs to stock their products in a boutique.
This year, our ASBM is in its second year running and is made up of a wonderful array of products from inspiring small business owners. Our stockists are Emiratis, Latvians, Indians, South Africans, and English- truly representing the diverse nature of Dubai. And their products range from stationery, wedding gifts, shoes, children’s accessories and traditional and western clothing.
We plan, at Spontiphoria, several events related to the ASBM such as small business owners’ panel talk and networking session, blogger mornings, craft workshops, and many other talks.
When asked why we do this annual small business month, our answer is simple. We want to promote the support and recognition of small, Dubai-based, female-owned businesses as these are the businesses that truly deserve our support. In small businesses, it is the entrepreneur who single-handedly manages all aspects of the business- from its product development to the bookkeeping.
It is amazing to see the change in consumers’ mentality over the past two years. When the idea of the ASBM first came up, small businesses were still struggling to receive the recognition they deserve. Today, however, small businesses in the retail and F&B sector have become the main choice for the average Dubai consumer. It is a healthy sign of a growing economy and a maturing community.
With the Annual Small Business Month, we try to add to that growing appreciation by promoting micro businesses within the Dubai retail scene. We hope to see you at our store (Spontiphoria) during April to pick up some wonderful pieces and support Dubai-based businesses.
Sidiqa is 25 years old and is half-Emirati and half-Pakistani. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the American University of Sharjah and a Master’s degree in Conflict Prevention, Sustainable Peace, and Security from the University of Durham in the UK. Sidiqa owns and manages the boutique-café concept store “Spontiphoria” in Wasl Square, Jumeirah.