Tamara Abdel Jaber “Empowered women mean stronger communities, and stronger economies”

Tamara is living proof that passion makes everything possible. This unbelievably inspiring Jordan native is Co-Founder and CEO of Palma Consulting, Co-Founder of Women in Business Arabia, Founding Member of Girls in Tech – Jordan Chapter, and Partner in Amam Ventures, among many more remarkable roles in prestigious organisations. We speak with her to gain more insight into her inspiring work and how it empowers women in the community.

You are a woman with an extensive and impressive resume. How do you stay motivated with so much on your plate?

I know that I should not attribute it to luck, but I am certainly lucky that I was able to find my passion and determine my competitive advantage at an early stage in my career. So, what keeps me motivated is following my passion; be it in learning something new every day, supporting other women, or having some impact on my clients and community.

Much of your work is deeply rooted in women empowerment. How do you ensure that each step forward you take, is also a step in the right direction for women and girls?

There is no way to ensure that every step forward is the right one, but being a constant learner means that I am able to learn from my mistakes and correct my path quickly. I also believe that I cannot do things on my own, so I make sure to have the right partners. I listen to the community and do my best to understand their requirements. 

You started out in the late 90s. How has the industry changed from then till now? Especially in terms of women empowerment in the workplace.

I grew up with many empowered women and saw that as a norm. As I matured in my journey, I learned of the challenges that women in the workplace face. I saw that mentorship was not available, that women networks were very limited, and that women’s economic empowerment was a need but was not prominent on agendas. These things have started changing, so I would say that things are moving in the right direction, but this means that we have missed so many years when women could have contributed more to our societies and economies and now, we have a lot of catching up to do.

What were the greatest obstacles you faced when you started out? And how did you overcome them?

What I faced were business challenges, not obstacles. For a long time, and as a single female, I could not travel to Saudi which had been the largest market for my business; I had to travel to build a client base in interesting places like Libya and Sudan. I looked at those as learning experiences. However, early on, I learned that I needed to build a strong team that can do the things I could not do on my own. Another early learning was that I needed to seek out mentors and advisors, being an entrepreneur is a lonely journey and having a sounding board always made things easier. At the same time, being passionate about what I do allowed me to persist

What is your advice for young women starting out in the industry?

I would advise them to find out what their competitive advantage is early on. Competitive advantage is where their passion crosses with what they’re good at and can make money out of. This means a lot of learning and pursuing knowledge. Another piece of advice is: don’t accept obstacles and surrender, instead look at them as opportunities. To do that, make sure you seek mentors actively, put yourself out there and ask for mentorship. And finally, network, network, network!

Changing society’s perception of women is not an easy task, especially in the Middle East. How can powerful female executives, creatives and entrepreneurs contribute to that?

Women in a position of power have to understand that it is their role to bring change. They should support other women whenever they can. Women should understand that they have a responsibility towards their communities and local economies. Empowered women mean stronger communities, and stronger economies. It is not a luxury nor an option.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans entail continuing to do more of the things I am passionate about. This includes launching Amam Ventures, a gender lens investment fund that we’re building in Jordan and expanding soon to other countries in the region. This will help address a financing gap that women-owned and women-led businesses face. My plans also include growing the network of Women in Business Arabia. The network has 38,000 members now from different walks of life. We need to grow this soon to 100,000 members knowing that the sky is the limit. 

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