How women can lead the global expansion of local businesses

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Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) 2024 has a panel of prominent female entrepreneurs shared their experiences and insights on global business expansion during a session ‘The Power of Going International and Thinking Global with Your Business’.

Expansion in business: How local entrepreneurs can go global
Jennifer Blandos, founder of Female Fusion, a global professional network for business women; Mariam Bin Al Shaikh, Director of the Sharjah Business Women Council (SBWC); and Natasha Hatherall Shawe, Founder of Tish Tash PR Agency in Dubai, offered a broad perspective on the subject to moderator Reim El Houni, a TV media consultant and founder or Ti22 Films.

Blandos highlighted the importance of understanding market demand for successful international expansion. “Study the market, understand the demand for your product, and establish partnerships with local organisations,” she advised, underlining the role of digital platforms in facilitating global business without the necessity of physical offices in different countries.In contrast, Bin Alshaikh focused on the significance of community building and the support of a reliable team in different markets. “A great team is essential for success in various markets,” she said, noting the importance of a strong, value-aligned team for international expansion.

On the challenges and learning curves of operating in different countries, Shawe mentioned the variance in market strategies and the need for adaptation, saying, “Every market is different, requiring a unique approach.” Blandos shared her experiences with unforeseen challenges in various markets, while Alshaikh emphasised the importance of changing narratives and perceptions in international markets.

Technology plays a paramount role in communication and spreading team culture across different markets, the panellists agreed, especially for people-focused businesses. Blandos, whose business is tech-driven, shared her enthusiasm for digital tools that facilitate business scaling and efficiency.

Shawe reflected on her unexpected entrepreneurial journey, leading to the expansion of her PR agency across multiple countries: “I started as a freelancer, and now, 12 years later, we have offices in three countries and plans for a fourth”. Her strategy involved leveraging a mix of in-house and freelance professionals, and exploring new markets before establishing formal offices.

 

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