Ms. Aqsa Abdullah is the founder and CEO of KWS Middle East and Vigor Business Centre, two platforms complementing each other in providing services to aspiring entrepreneurs and global startups that want to operate their business in Dubai. KWS is responsible for setting up businesses in the UAE, helping navigate all of the local complexities and options involved on their clients’ behalf. Vigor provides startups a place to work from and an opportunity to have an office in a fully furnished and equipped business center in the heart of Dubai.
In this interview, Ms. Aqsa talks about her career, entrepreneurial journey and about doing business in the Middle East.
Hello Ms. Aqsa, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? What’s your story?
Aqsa Abdullah: I was born in a very humble household yet had an upbringing where integrity and principles were considered the most important part of my life. I saw my mother working and struggling day and night to make the ends meet. Being a single mother of 4 kids, she found it difficult to manage the house and her work with no support from either of the families. Yet, she managed everything gracefully and with so much integrity that we already had so much to look up to. She raised the bar so high that, being the elder daughter, I had to pull up the socks to create another fair example for my siblings. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a silver spoon when you are born; you could change it for the one going to be born in your family. So, I started working at a very young age while I was still studying to give my mom support.
There were times when I was doing 4 jobs at a time and was still pursuing my degree. I still wonder sometimes how we have so much energy in us; we just don’t know how to channel that in a productive way. So, the journey started at a very young age and still goes on.
Did you always want to become an entrepreneur? How did it all begin?
Aqsa Abdullah:: No, I never had this idea. I just saw everyone around me getting applauded for getting good jobs in MNCs. So this thought never came that to create those jobs and being that kind of influence in a society is much bigger than working for a 6-digit salary in a good corporation.
This all started when I delivered my baby, as I had no support in my house for him, so I had to leave my job as a business consultant from a very reputed company in Dubai. Since I was always very career-oriented, I thought to start this myself, although I never thought it would grow massive and that I had this in me somewhere.
Can you tell us more about KWS?
Aqsa Abdullah: KWS is a business advisory group where we try to accommodate a client’s needs, from consulting him to choosing the right business and jurisdiction, until his business is up and running fully.
We customise different solutions for every client, as we understand that every client has different requirements, so we alter accordingly.
We set up the companies, arrange their residency visas and family visas, their office space, the marketing and branding plans for them, as well as financial services.
You have also founded Vigor. What services are you providing with it?
Aqsa Abdullah: Vigor also caters to SME clients. We provide these start-up service offices where they can work fully with no headache of taking care of offices. We have all kinds of businesses in Vigor, and for them, we also create opportunities to network within so that they can also find the opportunities on the same premises for no extra fee, as we understand every business is a customer of another business. At Vigor, we are trying to give that platform as well, where people can not only use the offices but also grab business opportunities.
You’ve started doing business in a very competitive industry and became successful in a rather short period of time. What’s your secret?
Aqsa Abdullah: The secret is simple. Anyone can copy your product, and we are not selling anything our competitors are not selling. It’s the level of services they cannot copy.
We take our clients very seriously and make them feel they are in safe hands. Our job is to assure them that the process is pretty smooth and seamless. Unfortunately, many in our industry just think the client is a money-minting machine. I think it’s time we should stop taking our clients’ intelligence for granted.
Reaching your clients’ expectations is no easy task, especially when what you do is associated with the banking sector. How do you make sure you always deliver?
Aqsa Abdullah: As I mentioned before, we try to deal on the same level as our clients. It’s a Google era where every piece of information is a click away. So making them feel like they know nothing is not the right approach. You need to work together as a team, and when you are successful in convincing them to trust you, it’s easy to work.
KWS and Vigor are a big responsibility. What gives you confidence?
Aqsa Abdullah: We do our work with full transparency and honesty.
As a woman in business, do you find any difficulties in doing business in Dubai or in general?
Aqsa Abdullah: I think it’s a little different being a woman in business, but it’s not bad at all. In Dubai, the security given to you as a woman is incredible.
However, it’s overall changing globally. Women are doing wonders in various industries. It’s happening gradually, but it’s happening for sure.
Also, it’s very important to have a strong support system with you. In my case, I have an amazing husband who is not insecure as a man. He always has my back, and because of that, I could do what I have been doing so far.
Now that you’re an accomplished businesswoman, with two solid ventures in your name, what’s next? Where are you taking your business from here?
Aqsa Abdullah: So many things are in the pipeline, and I hope to achieve all of that in coming years.
As a successful entrepreneur, what advice would you give to aspiring women, especially from the Arab world, who wish to become independent?
Aqsa Abdullah: Just believe in yourself and be productive. Recognise your value and worth as an individual and play your part in society.
Originally publlished on Yahoo.com