Changing career paths can be a challenge. For Munira Elmaşal, it meant breaking into a new industry in a new country. In Syria, Munira worked with civil society organizations on psychological gender-based violence issues. She moved to Turkey after the war broke out and worked in the protection sector in Gaziantep – a hub for both Syrians and international NGOs.
Munira, like many refugees, enjoyed a meaningful career in her home country but faced difficulties in obtaining a work permit in Turkey to continue in her trained profession. However, with resilience and determination, she decided to change paths and start her own business – a retail store called Rotana Tekstil.
“Although I didn’t have any business experience, I had the encouragement of my mother, who has always been my biggest supporter,” she says.
To grow her business, Munira sourced garments at low prices from manufacturers, promoting them through social media and selling them locally. Then, she began to target markets in other countries in the region. She opened two wholesale stores, selling clothing for women and children. In the future, she hopes to set up her own factory.
Like many SMEs, Munira’s business was affected during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly due to increased fares for domestic and international transportation. Through Building Markets, Munira was connected to her first buyer in Africa, opening a new and promising market for her business.
For women entrepreneurs looking to start their own business, Munira advises: “Try to make your product unique and special to make it stand out in a crowded market. I faced challenges as a woman working in the trading sector. I overcame them by building trust and credibility with my customers.”