A great business idea is one that solves a common problem—and that’s exactly what Doha Alibrahim set out to do. Having earned an MBA in marketing and gained years of experience in senior marketing roles across industries as diverse as real state, oil and healthcare, Doha recognized an important opportunity in the market.
“I noticed that the Saudi market was lacking advertising and marketing agencies that reflected Saudi culture,” Doha explains. So, as soon as she had enough experience, she decided to start her own agency.
The road to the business success and personal independence was far from smooth for Doha. It took her several years to negotiate complex legal and licensing rules, given that she was registering the business as a sole, female entrepreneur. “No-one had requested an advertising agency license as a woman before!” Doha recalls.
Nevertheless, her license was finally granted and Doha’s agency, Artech, was born. Offering a full range of communications services in the Gulf states and beyond, Artech has created everything from websites, to logo and packaging design and full social media campaigns. The team prides itself on taking an innovative approach to marketing and communications—exactly what Doha had in mind when she first dreamed up her business.
Convince and convert
In the early days, convincing customers to put their faith in Artech wasn’t easy. “Being a woman and a local agency, people didn’t automatically trust me,” admits Doha. But this was where Doha’s MBA education and marketing experience came to the fore. “I drew up a marketing plan, just as I’d done before when I worked for big companies, and started to share my story.”
Using her contacts, Doha secured a few small projects—and success followed. Today, her clients span a wide variety of industries, from hospitality to beauty and from education to manufacturing. 90% of Artech’s business comes from social media, according to Doha, but platforms like Facebook and Instagram also fulfil another important role for her business. “It’s also where we can offer help, share knowledge and build the network,” says Doha.
The power of possibility
And networks are important, as Doha knows well. She now mentors other SMEs and runs workshops for female entrepreneurs, using her own knowledge and experience to teach them how to start their own business and get access to funding. “My belief that, as a Saudi woman, I could make change a reality is a sign that women can do the things they dream of doing. Despite rules and regulations and cultural biases, with passion, you can do anything.”
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