It is a brave new world – a dynamic landscape fueled by innovation and the spirit of entrepreneurship. A time when women have emerged from the shadows to take reins of their destiny, bringing awe-inspiring talents to the forefront. One such woman is Salwan Al Shaibani – CEO of Spellbound, UAE, a multi-faceted establishment that strives to empower clients through cutting edge marketing, brand creation and a unique approach to advertising.
“I started working for the Citigroup as an intern immediately after graduating from business school. My career actually began as a banker, enabling me to grow and specialize in risk management,” reveals Salwan Al Shaibani. Always ready to take on new challenges and exploring new opportunities, the trailblazing CEO contemplated about setting up business. “I saw huge potential in the market and it was in 2006 I decided to venture into the fields of media and advertising. This is how Spellbound was established.”
The pre-recession time was immensely competitive and launching a start-up was no easy task especially in the midst of an economic boom. “Our biggest challenge was to penetrate a highly saturated market as far as media and advertising was concerned,” she said. But the company capitalized on its core competency – B2B communication solutions. It was the challenge that fed and instigated our creative side to develop innovative products,” says Al Shaibani. She adds, “Personally speaking, it was because of these tests and challenges that I have learnt to channel my all-rounded approach to business effectively and continuously work on achieving that little girl’s dream.”
It is not untrue to claim that women entrepreneurship is poised to be a tipping point for global economic comeback. Worldwide, women own or operate 25% to 33% of all private businesses according to the World Bank. Women-owned enterprises grow faster than those owned by men, and faster than businesses overall. Countries and governments can and do play a pivotal role by tapping into this ‘not fully’ explored area.
“I have always dreamt of running my own set of ventures. But in order to do that, one needs to go through the process of learning and attaining the right skill-set and knowhow.” – Salwan Al Shaibani
Talking about the encouraging position of the UAE, Al Shaibani says, “The government provides full support and adequate multi-faceted platforms as well as opportunities for women to participate in the country’s progress and advancement. Our visionary rulers have provided us with all the necessary tools, technologies and funding necessary for productivity and growth. Now, it is our responsibility to utilize these benefits for our country’s advancement. We are capable of rising to the challenge but it is imperative to invest in continuous self-development to keep moving forward.”
Emerging markets such as the Middle East and Africa are bursting at the seams with opportunities particularly for women entrepreneurs. “We are lucky to be born in an era with ample access to technology as well as guidance. The climate is perfect for women to grow and excel,” says the CEO thoughtfully.
Al Shaibani has high hopes for her company and envisions it to becoming a household name in the times to come – serving not only the community but also acting as a catalyst for economic growth. Praising His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum, she concludes, “His Highness has put a lot of faith in us. In his book, His Highness remarked, ‘I have said it loud and clear: Beware, men, lest women deprive you of all the leadership positions in the country.’ We at Spellbound believe no differently – come and grab the opportunities.”