Two years ago, while performing my daily ritual, which is basically skimming through my Facebook newsfeed, I came across an advert. A cute little owl staring right back at me with a magnifying glass on his left eye and a message that read ‘freelancing opportunities’. This is how I came across Nabbesh – the Middle East’s highly popular virtual skills marketplace established in 2012. At the helm of this ship is an awe-inspiring woman Loulou Khazen and a small but highly talented team by her side whose hard work and belief in the Nabbesh vision has led this platform to become the regional go-to place for getting real jobs.
Quite eager to hear the trailblazer talk about her enterprise and the journey, I waited with bated breath to give Loulou a call on the stipulated time. Gracious as anticipated, I was greeted with a warm friendly voice on the other end.
After the routine civilities, we came right down to business. Talking about Nabbesh, Loulou begins, “It’s a marketplace where you can look for and hire talent online. Our vision is to become the go-to platform for talent sourcing and transparent payment management.”
Having worked for a number of prestigious companies and boasting in-depth knowledge pertaining to financial services, marketing and start-ups, Loulou had decided early on to start a business which was socially conscious. “It was very important for me to give back to this region and help empower people one way or another,” she said.
Fully comprehending the significant challenges of employment and job security, the founder realized the immense potential the virtual world promised. “Regionally speaking, more and more people are coming online, and there is a massive Internet penetration in this part of the world. And what better way to help my people than by offering them job opportunities? More importantly, Nabbesh is also a platform that empowers people, especially women, to become financially independent through the use of their skills,” she explains.
Achievements have been numerous for the virtual marketplace from currently possessing more than 45,000 Nabbeshers to facilitating over 5,000 jobs in a very short span of time. One of the company’s early achievements was winning the top slot at the Entrepreneur competition show organized by DU. “It was obviously a very big milestone for Nabbesh because we were still at an early stage of business. This gave us a lot of media attention, and people started exploring and using the services, etc. We have had many celebrations along the way,” says Loulou.
“It is a matter of immense pride to hear women from countries like Gaza availing opportunities through Nabbesh.”
There are many challenges for entrepreneurs while starting afresh – from finding the perfect team, to the nitty gritty of business. “As far as the UAE is concerned, yes, money is a challenge when setting up an office especially because it is so expensive here. But these are challenges one will have to face anywhere in the world, and I think there is a very big drive promoting entrepreneurship in the UAE. Specifically speaking, it is actually more advantageous for women entrepreneurs as the government vehemently encourages our active participation. There are many people who want women to take the lead and break the stereotype,” opines Loulou. She further adds, “Women can contribute massively to the economic activities of the country. Research shows how women can greatly impact the GDP. Even though women represent 50 percent of the population, the MENA region has one of the lowest women labor force participation in the world. There is a huge untapped pool of talent currently not contributing to the economy.”
Connecting all the dots through the highly facilitating Nabbesh network, the founder aims to help people get jobs, especially women. “It’s all about bringing the job to you versus taking you to the job. And you can work around your schedule, your home, etc. I think women are slightly intimidated when it comes to finding a job, or if they have to go on a hiatus for personal reasons. Nabbesh is a great platform that helps women reintegrate into the workforce by helping them out through smaller projects, and thereby making some money. As a result, it also boosts their confidence tremendously,” she says.
Envisioning a very bright future ahead for Nabbesh, its founder desires the company to become the only go-to marketplace for companies and individuals alike for finding expert talent from the region and beyond. With unique and transparent payment services offered, similar to an escrow account that actually empowers freelancers by securing timely payments, the vision is most certainly not farfetched.
“We have more than 15,000 women Nabbeshers – a platform perfect for everyone,” concludes Nabbesh’s chief owl.
A socially-conscious initiative powered by transparency, Nabbesh has, indeed, provided a great platform especially for women in the region who are looking for not only an alternative means of employment but also a way to become more productive, useful and, therefore, happier.