Al-Jabri sisters use their creativity to turn dates into a must-have item
September 11, 2015: The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. This quote by Mahatma Gandhi is something that inspires Al-Jabri sisters Shatha and Wafa, founders of Meshan Dates and Sweets in Oman.
Their love for Oman’s treasured fruit gave birth to a unique range of refined dates and sweets in their mother’s kitchen. “The idea of Meshan Dates and Sweets came up a long time ago when my sisters and me decided to follow His Majesty’s call and give back to this beloved country by utilising the resources of the land,” says Shatha Al-Jabri.
Prior to launching Meshan, Shatha and Wafa were employed in public and private sectors. “We really wanted to give something back to our country rather than just be another number in a big organisation. And we had the feeling that we can turn our creativity into our business,” says Shatha.
|We quickly identified that a powerful opportunity existed to create Oman’s first refined brand of dates that not only boasts exquisite flavour but also impeccable presentation. It was with this vision in mind that my sisters and me sought to elevate the Omani staple to its rightful place in the market by integrating a mix of traditional and modern flavours with innovation and artistic flare,” says Wafa.
In 2011, they quit their jobs. Though they had the idea of the line of business they wanted to be in, they lacked the required practical training to start one. Hence, they joined a training course in preparing sweets and chocolates. They further honed their skills at home wherein they created different kinds of date-based sweets.
|As the idea is revolutionary in how dates can be introduced and presented creatively, our first challenge was to educate the local market that dates can be an exquisite luxury gift,” Wafa says adding that besides the financial challenges, there were technical challenges, like lack of packaging suppliers and required skills such as marketing and finance skills.
As their small business grew, their younger sisters, who studied hospitality management, also came on board.
According to Wafa, as a woman entrepreneur, she never faced any difficulty.
Shatha says that Oman provides a huge opportunity for women keen to start their own venture. “Actually, Omani women are privileged as they are empowered by His Majesty, who has selected October 17 as Omani Women Day. In Oman, women have good representations in all walks of life and hold important positions as minister, under secretary, ambassador.”
Today, the sisters are a dynamic force in Oman’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and an inspiration to other young Omanis who aspire to start their own business and leave a legacy of economic and social impact.
“Our vision is to become an iconic supplier of exceptional products that preserve local traditions, reinvent contemporary interpretations of date sweets and whose impeccable presentation and flavour fosters a love of dates that grows and matures, as a true love should,” says Wafa.