How this Emirate Woman Gained Success from Motherhood to Entrepreneur?

It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. By Scott Belsky.

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If you are a woman, then the ideas will be eliminated before it is even shaped. But these didn’t stop Rasha Al Danhani to stop her dreams. Not only did she give shape to it, but became successful in it. She discovered fame of sorts with the brand PappaRoti bun chain. She floated her business in the UAE in 2009 and since then she has been expanding via sub-franchisees across the Middle East and beyond. 

Beginning of the venture:

Rasha studied entrepreneurship at the Dubai Women’s College and graduated in the year 1998. Her initial career kick-started with working in the banking sector but later shifted to the real estate business.

In 2009, she got a franchise of the Malaysian brand PappaRoti and turned it from the maker of buns and refreshments into a coffee shop chain, and the signature being the coffee coated bun. She said that she gained the brand through her savings from her previous job and took a loan from her father. 

During her initial stage of business, she started with five staff. She also worked at the cash counter, took a turn as a barista and in the bakery. She even cleaned the floor after training her staff. Although, now after 50 outlets in the UAE and 300, she still senses the exact details of the finer measure of coffee that goes in a latte and the cup on which it should come in. 

She is not like the normal investor who sits back, just puts the money, and leaves all the work for the staff itself. 

This attitude has surprised many ladies and entrepreneurs, that one entrepreneur even asked her how, as a local, she is working on the cash counter at a coffee shop. Her reply was simply that it is nothing wrong with working, as it is a good way to prove oneself. He then gave her a tip thinking of her to be an employee but when she revealed she was the owner of the place, he praised her and told her she has changed his perspective of how to do things. 

When she experienced for the first time the taste of the PappaRoti, she reckoned it will be a success in Dubai, irrespective of the place. 

The Growth:

Initially, she had no money for marketing, and she didn’t believe in the concept of mouth advertising. Luckily, it was notable. She found people asking her for sub-franchise.

Instead, she became vigilant, as she was not keen on expanding initially the business but to home grow her brand. Although she bought the franchise for the product from the owner, she had a distinct intuition of how this brand functions. Luckily, the owner approved of her vision, and so Rasha started working on the manual that had instructions on acquiring furniture, ingredients, and so on.  

She began franchising in 2010 and presently has authorization for the Middle East and North Africa, and India. Although she doesn’t have authorization to Europe, yet she persuaded the Malaysian owner to allow her to have Paris as she loves that city. 

She aims to have three PappaRoti stores in each country where she has taken franchise, although she has 12 stores in some countries. And her major chore is to sustain the quality across the chains. 

She directs secret shoppers to all locations monthly and reeducates staff who are not up to the level. 

She has won many awards, including the Arab Woman Awards Trophy. In 2013, she was named Arabian Businesswoman of the Year at the Arab Women Awards UAE. She also got an entrepreneurial personality of the year and the best project of the year in 2012. 

Rasha once received a call from HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s office that His Highness was in PappaRoti, The Dubai Mall and he adored its taste and the concept. Since she was in a different shop, His Highness, who had come to PappaRoti and tasted it asked the manager of the mall to call the owner and ask her to meet him. When she met His Highness, he appreciated her work, and he said that he has faith in his daughters. She then realized that she did something right.

The recent pandemic didn’t spare her as well. Since the malls were closed, they shut the airport down, transit stopped, even they locked their business down. Despite all this, she didn’t lay off her staff. 

Although still many of the people are asking for a franchise yet, she wants to take time in developing her home-grown model and study further other country’s cultures and their markets before stepping in. 

Rasha is focusing on new outcomes and product growth, and more amount in promoting ads post lockdown.

While most of the entrepreneurs don’t surmise in shepherding their product’s day-to-day operations, Rasha Al Danhani doesn’t follow the same. She lives in a variety of roles. Through all the hardships because of her birth as a woman and her place, followed by criticism, she followed her dream and never set back. They have appreciated her with many awards and praises. Rasha has set a role model for the emirate women to follow their dreams and take action.

I, Priya Nagarajan, is a past Assistant Professor, mentor, tutor, counselor. Writing has always been a passion of mine and so changed my path to my passion. I believe language is the best way to convey your thoughts and dreams to get the results. I believe it takes a personal approach to reach individual success. I write with a flair for creativity and a keen eye for the professional.

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