Entrepreneurship... The Women’s Power… by Jollto Ortizo Padilla.
Please take note that the name and the company does not exists in the country. This is an illustration of how women can contribute to the country’s economic growth.
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1. Background of the Entrepreneur
Aisha is the President of Bahrain’s leading construction company, the Aisha Contracting Company and has the stake at the family owned corporation, The Aisha Group of Companies. She perseveres until the company has attained a million Bahraini Dinar. Some of her friends encourage her to retire, but she laughs it off since working hard and loving it is part of her daily life. She is passionate about working with the company and employees. Her father serves as the inspiration and is the motivating factor to work with insights towards achieving the objectives and goals in life.
The Aisha Contracting Company was established in 2005. She was influence by her father to establish the company during the time when the construction sector was booming in the GCC region due to high oil prices worldwide. Her father has predicted what industry will be at the forefront of the future economy in Bahrain; hence this construction company was born. In addition she expanded the business by opening electrical retail outlets in consonant to the contracting company.
When she was young, she has a passion of business. By that time she was taking part with the business of her father because he believed in women’s power which is dominated by men. She was sent to London to learn and acquired business knowledge. The father perception was perfectly right because despite of turmoil and political instability for the past years, the business has dramatically continues to grow into a powerhouse business in Bahrain.
Bahrain’s business slightly fluctuate in the early 2000s due to worldwide economic crisis, but because of her passion motivated by positivism, her struggles succeeded and the company continuously grows as expected. For the last ten years of existence in Bahrain it has grown by 30%. The company has tremendously expanded in the neighboring countries like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Oman where construction sectors grow dramatically. In the late 2000s, the expansion continues to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait where huge investment was being called for, and does not deter the process of expansionism.
The presence of competitors does not hinder such capacity to grow. In fact Aisha thinks of it as a challenge. Armed with her knowledge in Business during her studies in London, she continues to plan ahead with the objectives and goals of becoming the biggest contracting company in the Gulf Countries. The business grows rapidly up to the early 2000s, when the oil started to increase from $100 a barrel to $120 per barrel. This provides Aisha to an aggressive campaign to build more buildings and houses in Gulf Countries. She says; “ There’s no stopping”. She explores this opportunity to build her business empire.
However, in the early decade of 2000s, political turmoil has wrapped Bahrain which part of the so-called Arab Spring. All businesses and construction halted the booming economy of Bahrain. The business was down and most of the investors flew to their country of origin which results to capital flight. The investors went on the “wait and see” attitude and there were speculations among the investors. At that moment, banks have the liquidity problem because of capital flights. The revenue fall by 30% that provides her to go back to her drawing board.
But all of these negative situations did not stop Aisha to relegate her business acumen. She then plan strategic alliances with other investors that give her leeway to reorganized and restructure the systems of the company. Concurrently, the strategic plan works and it creates more employment to most Bahrainis who have the willingness to work in the pressured environment.
2. The decision to start up a Business
Aisha always emphasizes “creativity”. The word is a magic to her in starting a business and convert the empire as the way it is now. She describes it as the ability of the management to apply any thought of imagination that yields innovative solutions to huge problems that beset the organization. She coins the word of Padilla, J (2001) in defining such term as “ Organizations and teams which practice reflexivity and are prepared to continually challenge and redefine their organizational goals, roles and paradigms, via the process of innovation, develop a more comprehensive and penetrating representation of their role. They better anticipate and manage problems, and they deal with conflict as a valuable process asset within the organization and encouraging growth and development. The most reflexive organization are those within which there is a maelstrom of activity, debate, argument, innovation and the real sense of involvement of all employees.
The fascination of Aisha to understand this concept draws her insight of inspiration as she was given a special gift to have such business knowledge with the help of her father’s money. Armed with her background of studies in one of the best business university in London, the London University, and her father’s training from her childhood days to the present time, she was able to establish the company into a million dollar conglomerate.
Her interest is drawn into creativity, innovation, sensitivity and skills in communications become a guide to prepare herself to such big challenge. Being proactive and imaginative in management approach is one of the essential elements that she professes in order to be successful in his chosen endeavor in life. In addition, she believes she could navigate the traditional business practiced by businessmen in Bahrain and can changed into the world of creative mindset thus a generation of innovation can be fulfilled. This according to her without such characteristics can hinder the growth of the business and the fulfillment process is compromised.
Despite the fact that she knew that there are some obstacles that affect the business externally and internally, this does not stops her from pursuing such intensive training and development in order to sharpen her knowledge and improves her level of business knowledge. She knew that one of the characteristics of human activity is learning. There is a growth level if she takes steps to venture into a business as it involves insights and the taking place of change in many ways as a life -long experience. In her mind she needs to learn and develop the way on how to help and support her father to grow the business and provides employment to the citizens of Bahrain. Understanding the concept of dynamism and active dimension of business life draws her attention to such perspective.
Learning from her father’s style of management and financial approaches recognizes a useful process to enhance her effectiveness and this serves as a challenge to her. This creates the idea of how knowledge is link to the learning process. The teaching of her father that knowledge and foresight forms an act of innovation to this competitive world can directly give a direction to an effective and efficient organization. This teaching makes a great track on the mind of Aisha to pursue her career in business.
The thought of being an imaginative and innovative in terms of management capabilities has increasingly brought her to try this method to create a business of the future. Another way is that business requires a creative feeling and intuitive activity that stops the blockage of being creative. The advantage of being coach and mentored by her father contributes to her desire to this challenging business world.
3. The subsequent management and development of the new venture:
Aisha Contracting has a grade AA, the highest grade among contractor in Bahrain awarded by the government. It has several projects from both private sectors and private sector. With the highly skilled people recruited by the company, it developed many successful projects which recently includes The Supreme Council for Women, Nissan Garage in Sitra, Gulf Hotel, RUF Automobile Assembly Plant, Crescent Villas in Amwaj Island and the a multi-million Addax in Seef. It also built the 400 houses for the Ministry of Housing in Wadi Al-Sail and the Ebrahim Tower in Seef.
The financial capability of the company under the leadership of Aisha has been liquid although it has been affected by external factors such as political conflicts in the region and economic changes in the US and European countries. It has fully implemented the quality assurance to ensure reliability and safety among its customers.
A challenging scenario in Bahrain since the political unrest in 2011 is on its headway. There is a continued volatility in the market that results to the country instability. Capital flight and uncertainty undermine the confidence of the investors. The threat towards the economy is going into a “fiscal cliff” to the fragile construction business. Suddenly Bahrain has the sluggish market growth and the healthy property sector becomes a nutshell. Concurrently because of such scenario, the sector is faced with challenges on the social equilibrium which added to the crisis, The Bahrain Weekend News (2015)
In line with the strategic priorities, the company has speeded to invest in office buildings continuously as the company key growth drivers that provides an income of BD150 million a year. The company has continued to strengthen its foothold by means of a joint venture with Bahrain Development Bank and disposed some of its non-performing equipments and businesses. The launching of the two constructed building in Seef area last year has been the company’s successful project adding to BD100 million turnovers.
The company has played a major role in leadership by helping resolve some issues such as climate change. The company approach is to be recognized externally and a leader of the sector in Gulf Country and work as a catalyst organization. It seeks to be proud as a key player in the market where they operate. The company’s growth is sustainable and demonstrate the powerful purpose from where it stand that makes the company “fit to win” in the future scheme of endeavor.
The model is to sustain growth in the property sector. They have to address such issues towards the direction of innovative housing and a happy living. The company is duty bound to address such perspectives. The model content is sustainable growth and has a direct impact to the environment. The Company is to invest into an innovative housing in order to double their revenue and profits. To strengthen the components between the property buyers and the company, the equity must be strong to provide leverage by focusing on projects that are huge that improves margin and efficiency. This will drive a product that is superior and innovative that will drive profitable growth. In order to deliver such profitable growth the company deliver value by enhancing service to the customers and quality housing facilities for customers satisfaction and faster innovations to the market where they operates.
The company builds its leadership capabilities by attracting the best talent to support the sustainable model of business and becomes a tool to the regenerative development that gives life. This will reduce cost and improve marginal profit while sourcing the sustainable methods of developing products and the innovative opportunities to improve the lives of the employees.
Aisha also emphasizes that people is the most important at the heart of the organization. They will pursue a sustainable competitive advantage by building their potential through training and development. It requires a challenging set by redefining their capabilities and understands the reality about the organization. Trust and inspiration are the key components that influence them to work with precision and build a model among peers at work.
There appear to have a reflection of complete harmony in the climate of organization. The conflict is being handled and managed by the group and appropriate adoption of the strategies that could damage the harmful effect of conflict.
On a broader approach of leadership, satisfaction of the job aims to provide a person with greater autonomy to plan, execute and to control their work. It also gives a person with a job that is challenging and an opportunity for growth. The company permits freedom to schedule and pace their work. Giving the workers an opportunity to challenge their skills is to fully utilize their expertise to build their skills. Self management provides them with a greater responsibility to monitor their own performance at the minimal supervision.
Aisha believes that “ In an organization, empowerment means that each staff member is responsible for creating that organization’s culture. There aren’t many motivating forces more potent than giving your staff an opportunity to exercise and express their idealism, Roddick M , (2013).
The Bahrain Weekend News; Bahrain’s Elite Business Entrepreneur, pp 13;14; March 2015 edition.
Padilla, J, Strategic Management, 2nd edition, 2012; pp 345, Pearson
Roddick , Anita. Human Resource Management, 2nd edition, p234, Pearson