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Narrative of an Accomplished Woman Entrepreneur
People

Narrative of an Accomplished Woman Entrepreneur

F ereshteh Bani Amerian is a female entrepreneur in the field of import and export of food products. She has established herself in the business world for 15 years now and has a trade license. She is an English translation graduate, and a member of the Iran Businesswomen Association.
A grade 3 volleyball referee, and a grade 2 volleyball coach, as well as a member of Iran-Ukraine, Iran-Turkey, and Iran-Kuwait Chambers of Commerce and Industries, her occupations have left her little time for hobbies; however, she believes “my job is my hobby.”
Persian daily Forsat Emruz published an article on the 46-year-old Bani Amerian describing how her business came to be.

 Exports
Bani Amerian Business Institute was launched in 2003 and commenced operation by exporting fresh fruit, nuts, trail mixes, dates, and other domestic products to Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region. European countries were next in line. The institute was the first pomegranate exporter to Russia, and lemons, oranges, onions, potatoes, and Azerbaijani grapes were also among its produce sold overseas.
The Iranian watermelon, known as ‘baby sugar’ for its sweetness and deep red color, was also exported in packs of four by this company for the first time.
“Despite the quality fruit that is cultivated here, there is no packaging standard in Iran, so we came up with the designs ourselves, especially since we export fresh fruit and packaging is crucial for safe delivery,” she said.
The entrepreneur took the initiative to establish a subdivision in Dubai, but “it underwent budget freeze due to sanctions (imposed by the West on Iran’s nuclear program) and lack of foreign exchange” and the plan came to a halt. Nonetheless, exports were steady as products were sent to Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, and Russia.

 Imports
Noting that no country can single-handed meet its entire national market demand, Bani Amerian says there is no “positive attitude towards imports in Iran” as it “hastens outflow of foreign exchange.”
She says imports “are a circle in the economic chain and all demands cannot be satisfied with domestic products.”
The company employs stringent import policies and imported goods comply with the standards of the Food and Drug Administration. It also meets the national market demand for goods unavailable locally by importing well-known brand products from Turkey and Thailand, including coconut cream concentrate, canned Aloe Vera and the world famous Bebeto jelly gums.
“I worked six years on Bebeto products and personally paid for every analysis I demanded from the Turkish side. I was planning to launch its production line in Iran, but there were too many unnecessary bottlenecks that turn a business venture into a grave risk.”

 Obstacles
Bani Amerian says there are two major factors hampering imports. One is the volatility in foreign exchange rates and inefficient laws to differentiate between licensed and unlicensed traders (smugglers).
Certain non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like the Supreme Assembly of Imports as well as Importers Association have been helpful, but “their knowledge and experience should be taken into account by regulating bodies like the Iranian National Standards Organization.”
The other problem is the Import-Export Regulations Act that has never been revised since its ratification in 1967.

 Family Support
Bani Amerian works with 40 people in 30 provinces “directly” and 2,000 people are employed by the institute across the country.
The important role of the family simply cannot be overlooked as it provides one with both financial and mental support, Bani Amerian said, adding that she refuses to accept that married women cannot be an active part of the economy.
Her ultimate goal is domestic production of currently imported goods, but “ample support, particularly from banks in offering loans, is required to make that happen for any businessperson,” she stressed.

 

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