Dubai: Women's College (DWC) graduate Rafia Al Mulla is among that rare breed of people with a drive to succeed no matter what obstacles come their way.
Having just turned 21, she is among the nation's youngest successful entrepreneurs. She owns and runs YogurBerry, a franchise business based in Dubai Festival City's Festival Centre. YogurBerry is an international frozen yoghurt brand operating in 11 countries. Rafia's franchise is the only one in the UAE.
Rafia graduated with a bachelor's degree in Real Estate Management from DWC this month. She has been selected as the class valedictorian for the college's graduation ceremony being held in February. She also holds a higher diploma in business.
She spoke to Campus Notes.
How did you start the business?
It all started when I was in my third year at DWC and I began looking for the best company to buy. It took nine months to do the market research, search for a location and open the first branch in Dubai... in June 2009.
I had some help from my family. They are in the hospitality industry.
Why did you choose Yogur-Berry?
YogurBerry's unique frozen yoghurt recipe has proven enormously successful in the very fickle and trend-conscious international market.
Traditional yoghurt products have been around for a long time. Now it is time for something different. I own the master franchise in the UAE. I have about 10 to 15 staff.
Why did you become a businesswoman?
I knew I was capable of success and being the youngest UAE national who owns a global brand is a huge achievement. It is not simple however; I had the vision from the beginning and I filled a gap in the food and beverage market.
How did your family feel about you becoming an entrepreneur?
My family is really proud and always backs me up both mentally and financially.
What are your day-to-day tasks?
I get reports prepared by the different departments and I am responsible for making the big decisions. I am the creative mind. I have a great team and I always welcome motivated and ambitious people, the main characteristics I value.
How do your employees handle having such a young boss?
I have a much older staff and it's totally fine managing them. I sometimes wonder how they feel about having someone so young.
Is it difficult for Emirati women to enter the business world?
I do not think there is an issue of gender in this society anymore. As long as entrepreneurs choose a field or industry they like and think they can excel in then there is no doubt of turning back. Entrepreneurship is definitely risky; I would advise careful studies and planning which is the most crucial stage.
What are your future goals?
YogurBerry is currently expanding to four more locations in the UAE, including an Al Qasba branch in Sharjah opening on February 15, a Dubai World Trade Centre branch opening on March 1 and one in Abu Dhabi that opens in April. Certainly I am moving at a faster pace than expected, which is remarkable and I am truly happy!