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Barbed Remarks Can’t Hold Back Women Entrepreneurs
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Barbed Remarks Can’t Hold Back Women Entrepreneurs

Pioneer female entrepreneur, Mahrokh Fallahi, 72, believes gender inequality has nothing to do with entrepreneurship skills or activities of women.
“The barriers seemingly erected before female entrepreneurs are mostly rooted in mental attitudes rather than genuine reasons,” she told the Persian economic daily Forsat Emrooz.
Fallahi, a board member of the National Foundation for Women’s Entrepreneurship Development and Cooperation and chairman of the Association of Iranian Female Entrepreneur Managers said: “When I wanted to establish a livestock unit for farming Holstein cattle dairy 35 years ago, people passed barbed remarks as to how a woman can undertake such a task.”
Nevertheless, she did not allow their negative mindsets to hinder her objective and made strides in the dairy venture by conducting scientific study and research. “Four years after I started the unit, I received a gold medallion from the then (labor) minister, having been selected from among 870 male entrepreneurs in the same field,” she said. Again in 2004, Fallahi was selected as the best entrepreneur in the country.    
“Prejudgments always exist, no matter whether you are male or female,” she said, underlining that “barriers are inconsequential for those who are determined to change their lives and do not let disparaging remarks influence their decisions or stop them from pursuing their goals.”
Entrepreneurship is not limited to a certain age group. There are many young female entrepreneurs in the society, she pointed out.
Serving other roles “such as being a mother and wife” also should not stop women from being engaged in business activities. They can easily balance work with household duties.”Couples can also seek help from parents in taking care of children, so that they are not disrupted in their business and social activities.”

 Dual Approval
The National Foundation for Women’s Entrepreneurship Development and Cooperation is registered at the ministry of cooperatives, labor, and social welfare, and is also affiliated to the United Nations. The Association of Iranian Female Entrepreneur Managers is registered at the ministry of interior, and was established in 2003. The two organizations encourage women entrepreneurship in Iran.
On the reasons why there are two organizations in the same field, Fallahi said she had proposed the idea simultaneously to the two ministries, fearing rejection by one of them.”Fortunately both ministries approved the idea.”
The two bodies work as NGOs, and although they interact with executive agencies, they don’t seek financial support from the government. “They will do us a favor by not interrupting our activities, and that is the best contribution they can make,” she observed.

 Encouraging
Not only are the two NGOs making efforts to enhance job opportunities for women, they are also encouraging them to engage in entrepreneurship activities, said Fallahi.
“Our members travel to all provinces, encouraging young female graduates to start businesses of their own rather than waiting for jobs in government departments,” she said.
In encouraging entrepreneurial skills, potential fields of activity in each province are first taken into account. In the northern provinces, female graduates are encouraged in rice cultivation and chicken incubation and in the western provinces they are more focused on herbal production; in the northeastern province of Khorasan, cultivating saffron while in other parts of the country growing mushrooms, is encouraged, she said.
They receive feedback from young entrepreneurs based on which they provide practical advice in their respective fields of activity.

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