IF YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS IDEA, AND YOU KEEP WORKING ON IT, YOU WILL EVENTUALLY SUCCEED
An Interview with Maisaa Hamadeh, Femigrant from Lebanon,
Founder of Horoof Arabic School
Tell us a little bit about yourself (where are you originally from? When did you come to the USA?)
My name is Maisaa Hamadeh and I’m originally from Beirut, Lebanon.
I graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Lebanon, and worked in the IT field (in the banking sector) for a couple of years before moving to the USA in 2006.
How did you decide to open your business? Tell us about your business please.
I have 2 girls (7 years, and 3 years old) and we live far away from my home country. So a friend of mine (also a mom in a similar situation) and I came up with the idea of starting an Arabic language school because we wanted our own kids to be exposed to their native language as much as possible.
Although we do speak to our children in Arabic at home, we wanted them to practice reading and writing the language in other environments.
We believe that interacting with other kids in a classroom setting has a much more powerful impact on their education.
Therefore, we started Horoof Arabic School to teach our own kids as well as the children of other parents who have the same passion.
Horoof means “letters” in Arabic.
What is the most difficult situation you have faced when you opened your business and how you solved it?s
The most difficult situation for me was to establish a small business in a foreign country and to spread the word to market it. Trying to reach a specific niche was a bit hard especially because I was targeting Arabic families (and other families interested in learning the Arabic language) living in Boston. For this reason, Facebook helped me a lot in marketing my school especially that it has a great feature where you can specify your target market when advertising your business.
What’s an accomplishment that you are proudest of?
I think that starting with 2 classes (with around 12 students total) and growing to 7 classes (with around 55 students) in just one year was our greatest accomplishment. Horoof is now a well-known Arabic School and most of the Arab community in Boston is aware of it. We’re looking to grow even more next year. This makes me quite proud because my partner and I built something from scratch as entrepreneurs, and we’re giving back to the community by teaching kids the Arabic language.
How do you motivate yourself and stay motivated?
I motivate myself by constantly thinking about the end goal and the fact that we’re seeing tangible results.
Hearing about the parents’ satisfaction from our programs and seeing all our students coming to the school with a big smile and most importantly loving the language itself, is what keeps me motivated.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female immigrant entrepreneurs?
I think the language barrier is the hardest to overcome if you didn’t speak English before arriving to the US. However, I did notice that the people in the US are very nice and welcoming, and are willing to help you if you ask for assistance.
If you were a Mentor, what is one piece of advice that you would give to readers?
If you are passionate about your business idea, and keep working on it, you will eventually succeed.
Do you have any favorite quote that you think might inspire femigrants?
“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki