Combining philanthropy with eCommerce to achieve millennial goals

Nadia Al Sheikh, Founder – Deal’n

Born and brought up in Jordan in a family where parents believed in education as empowerment and gender equality, Nadia was privileged to study at the best and first mix school “The National Orthodox School”. A graduate from University of Jordan with a BA in English Literature & Political Science, her career started with the role of a salesperson at TNT Express Worldwide where Nadia worked her way up to Account Director; in charge of the company’s biggest customers, then moved as Sales director to work for World Trade Centre in Jordan.

Her talent & passion always was into the business world. She landed in Qatar with her husband where she established Shop & Ship for Aramex Int’l after which moved to Grind lays ANZ bank to work in private banking, handling investments & portfolio. As she got relocated to Saudi Arabia where she spent 8 years, she took 3 years off to take care of her son and alongside was working on developing sales training manuals for companies from home.

Nadia completed her Masters in Consulting & Coaching for Change from INSEAD. During this time, the seeds for Deal’n were being planted, a collaboration between herself & her son who was pursuing his studies in the United Kingdom. Both are humanitarian by passion and believe in the power of each action regardless of how small it might be; and this augurs well with Deal’n vision & mission.

Recipient of the Women Icon Asia 2018 Award by BERG Singapore, Nadia Al Sheikh shares with team ABT in this interview, insights from her personal & professional journey.

Who is your greatest inspiration & Why?
I have two people whom inspired and empowered me. My continuous inspiration years after his death is my beloved father; may he rest in peace. He was a self-made man, who got a scholarship to the U.S.A and is a holder of two PHD’s in Physics and Education. As he believed education is empowerment he dedicated his life to teaching & sharing knowledge. A professor, a published writer, humanitarian who worked with the UN to help develop educational programs, he helped underprivileged families by supporting them financially.

The other person who has inspired me is my grandmother. She became a widow at the age of 32 and had eight children then, four married and four young. She moved to Jordan alone where she knew no one and started a life on her own, a single mother at a time were society didn’t accept the idea of a women living on her own. She stood her ground and worked, raised her children and never got married. She is a true champion and inspiration for us & many women out there.  Its beyond my imagination what she went through, dealing with a mindset were the male is not only the dominant member of the community.

Whenever I feel tired or weak, or when I encounter women who are losing hope, I share with them my grandma’s story and together we try to imagine what she went through and how she handled it, what motivated her and through that they discover their own strategy and put the main points that we work around developing them.

Tell us about your Entrepreneurial journey

After a couple of years at other Middle East countries, we moved to Singapore. Since most of my professional references came from the Middle East, finding a job at Singapore wasn’t an easy task and that was the first motivator for me to enter the entrepreneurial world. My first venture with my partner was “Flenco” and it was a tough journey!  Back then, I lacked the product, market knowledge and a lack of understanding of consumer behavior. Throughout a journey of 9 years I learnt the nuances of the wellness and skin care industry and studied the Asian culture from a business & social perspective.

Very soon, Flenco introduced its own Sustainable Singaporean Natural Skin care brand “Flen”, that combined Chinese medicine with Dead Sea minerals formulated to suit the Asian climate, it stood out in a competitive market against giants of the industry due to customer’s loyalty and referrals.

As a single mother, flenco is a lucrative business module that provided me with the financial means but as a humanitarian by nature and a philanthropist by passion I had to merge that into the company’s vision. Therefore we introduced CSR as the core of our business module, where 20% of our net profit went to social causes to empower those in need, emphasizing on education. As for Singapore, I felt obliged to give back to my community, so we started collaborating with Make A Wish Foundation, offering a spa party for any girl who had that wish, participating in their Annual Christmas Party providing a spa corner for children, offering our services to orphanages. At Partipas Children Home we treated the children to a spa make over party with a professional hairdresser who volunteered her services and offered free hair cuts. We also treated the employees to their own well deserved relaxation day.

Tell us more about Deal’n and how was it born?
The idea was born during my studies for my Master’s Degree. Deal’n is lucrative business module that incorporates philanthropy with eCommerce, listening to what clients want and need and not what we believe they needs based on our research. It’s an evolving platform that is based on tailor made services per each country under the Deal’n umbrella.

It’s the 1st platform in Singapore that provides users with opportunities & solutions to utilise their skills, talents, expertise, capabilities & abilities to earn a steady income, grow their business and for entrepreneurs to introduce and test their ideas with the support of a team of professionals & educators providing them with a team to ensure the success of their business and mentoring for both their professional and emotional growth at no cost at all.

Deal’n doesn’t just provide solutions and opportunities to empower the underprivileged members of our community it also provides entrepreneurs with a platform to test ad show case their ideas supporting all with interactive workshops and a professional team of experts to help them reach their full potential.

Therefore, every brain storming session to discover their passion and how to utilize their skills, every time an idea is transformed into a business, it’s as if it’s my own and at certain times I’m more excited than they are and feel I’m an entrepreneur every single day. Deal’n is the perfect marriage between my entrepreneurial spirit and my passion to empower others!

Tell us about your most cherished milestone.
That will have to be the upcoming graduation of my son next July as he will be getting his Masters in Chemistry from the University of Bristol in the U.K.

Do you face challenges as a Woman Entrepreneur? Tell us more
As a women entrepreneur you’re always faced with the challenge of certain mindsets, perceptions and expectations. But in my personal case as a single mother entrepreneur I had to face more challenges from struggling to manage work and parental responsibilities, the lack of support as I have no family to depend on, the social stigma that still at this time and age single mothers have to face, stand their ground and have the strength to endure the social isolation by certain individuals and the hard work to overcome the misguided concept that your child comes from a broken home therefore he will have emotional problems.

It’s hasn’t been an easy ride and it was my choice to put my priorities right making sure my son doesn’t suffer from the divorce and to provide him with as much of a natural environment and that meant proper collaboration between parents in not isolating his father from being involved emotionally in his life as it will affect his development negatively.

Today I’m entering a new arena and becoming an advocate for Single Mothers, as I discovered that the social stigma they are still facing regardless of cultural backgrounds, at this time and age is incomprehensible!

If you were to do any one thing differently, what would that be?
Listen to my father when he was trying to share his knowledge and experience with me. What I thought was a lecture, was actually empowerment!

What would you like to achieve in the coming years?
To keep discovering new ways and methods to contribute to the empowerment of others and to be an advocate for single mothers rights and to demolish the social stigma associated with them.