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French Version

Young leaders in perspective : Dina Dukhqan

Who would have guessed that her skill in shaping ceramics, would have led Dina Dukhqan to a fulltime job of shaping other people’s lives into a success story. At the Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA), Dukhqan’s resume garnered her the current position of executive director.

When I first graduated, the idea was that I wanted to work in arts and wanted to have my own atelier since I specialized in ceramics,” commenced Dukhqan. I applied to the Crafts Center at the Noor Al Hussein Foundation (NHF) in order to gain experience. Soon, I got very involved in the project and in the non-governmental sector. For the past nine years Dukhqan has been working with NGOs.

After a three-year span with Noor Al Hussein Foundation, Dukhqan decided it was time to move out. Joining the Cooperative Housing Foundation (CHF), a USAID-funded microcredit project situated in the South of Jordan targets individuals and groups at the lower end of the economic scale. Dukhqan was entrusted to head the Aqaba branch.

From the onset with NHF, I worked with income trading projects for needy woman to establish handcraft centers for products which we used to market in return for salaries,” added Dukhqan.

I joined CHF because I was very much interested in expanding my experience in that field. According to the young woman, who got a BA in Fine Arts from Yarmouk University in 1996 and an MA in Archeology from the University of Jordan in 1999, it was very interesting to see how loans for young entrepreneurs were being evaluated and approved on the basis of feasibility studies. I was able to see how Jordanian entrepreneurs go about their businesses. The membership-based YEA, which plays a leadership role in supporting Jordanian young entrepreneurs, was established in November 1998 as a non-profit organization. Its website highlights the enhancement of entrepreneurial spirit among Jordanians, increase the number of entrepreneurs, improving the business environment and expanding business through regulations.

We do that through training courses, networking and advocacy and we are very much interested in enhancing the business environment by helping entrepreneurs to go global,” explained Dukhqan and added, “We encourage young Jordanians to take risks, to start business and not to give up from the first attempt. We invite successful Jordanians businessmen to speak during meetings so as to help in guiding our members and explain how they succeeded. So they can learn from others’ experiences.

Dukhqan went on to say that YEA established a website called Al Riadi, which has all the information needed for a person starting business, like financial institutions in Jordan and guidelines for establishing businesses, plus a map on how to do things in Jordan.

In my own opinion it is not hard; the only thing is that we need the right skills to do it. You need finance and proper marketing skills; these are the main challenges that young Jordanians encounter when considering setting up businesses,” explained Dukhqan. Being the executive director of Yea is not only a full time job but also a passion as it is at the heart of the NGO sector.

I believe in the private sector, I believe that people should start their own plans. My experience and career are in NGOs,” in answer to a question if she contemplates establishing her own business.

It is a growing sector that still needs work, more regulations and its success depends on structure. For example it represents 10 percent of the working force in the United States and to tell you the truth it is very much needed.

Dukhqan believes that Jordan, due to the numerous trade agreements it is signing with various countries, is helping in establishing a potential market filled with great opportunities. She further added that Jordan’s entry to the World Trade Organization and King Abdallah’s initiatives for the IT sector are providing more opportunities for young entrepreneurs.

To be open for everything new and not to resist change,” is Dukhqan’s key advice for the aspiring Jordanian businessmen trying to breakthrough into the local market.

Mike Derderian
The Star

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