Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Loulou Khazen Baz, who started Nabbesh last year, was the inaugural winner of the reality TV show The Entrepreneur. Sarah Dea / The National
Loulou Khazen Baz, who started Nabbesh last year, was the inaugural winner of the reality TV show The Entrepreneur. Sarah Dea / The National

Meet Dubai's first 'Entrepreneur'

The Life: Nabbesh, the winner of The Entrepreneur competition, aims to ease regional unemployment.

The bubbly environs of Dubai start-ups proved infectious for Loulou Khazen Baz.

When she quit her job at ActiveM, a venture capital company, in March 2011, she wanted to set up an enterprise that would have a social impact and be an exciting challenge.

"I did some research and found myself asking: how accessible is talent," she says. "It was not."

Her strains of thought finally led to a company she started a year ago in Beirut: Nabbesh, a skills marketplace, that aims to create jobs in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena).

Entrepreneurs like Ms Baz bank on skills in the available market that can range from graphic designing to plumbing in the fight to drive down unemployment. The idea was so attractive to some businesspeople that Ms Baz in November won the first edition of the reality TV show The Entrepreneur, which is sponsored by du.

"It tackles a serious problem in the Mena region and provides a solution," says Muna Al Gurg. "Moreover all technology enterprises are scalable as anyone can access the site from anywhere in the world."

Ms Al Gurg, the director of retail for Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, was a judge at the competition.

In the Arab countries, the average unemployment rate is 12 per cent, according to the United Nations Development Programme's Arab Knowledge Report for 2012.

Nabbesh "has to be a nonstop place where people thinking of cost-effective way of hiring talent would feel it is an ideal place for them," Ms Al Gurg says. Nabbesh, which means 'search' in Arabic, was started with Dh250,000 (US$68,062) that Ms Baz had saved for 10 years, she says, and now employs three full-time staff, including herself and the co-founder Rima Al Sheikh, 28, and eight freelancers who work on Web design and development from Dubai, Lebanon and Germany.

While support from family and friends is welcome in an enterprise's initial stages, Ms Baz, 31, says too much of it can be counterproductive. "You have to be careful about feedback," she says. "Do not open it up to everybody because then it can become very unmanageable and negative."

The support system and mentors need to be honest with start-up entrepreneurs but "you have to see they will not demotivate you".

One of the challenges of Nabbesh is that it is competing with online jobs portals, such as Dubizzle and Laimoon, that are thriving in the UAE. And Ms Baz knows she has to distinguish her portal from them.

Nabbesh has started with individuals looking to market their skills, but expects to be open to companies in future.

It has 5,000 registered users, with 90 per cent of them marketing their skills and the rest hiring. Almost 70 per cent of the users are based in the UAE, followed by Lebanon and Egypt. Each of the skills listed come with a location pin, to identify the distance between recruiter and the job seeker.

The website would also allow people marketing their skills to get recommendation-based ratings.

The site is free to use and is not yet generating money, but it expects to earn through advertisements and online transaction fees, which it will introduce by the second quarter of this year.

"When a job is done, we will manage the transaction and take a transaction fee," she says. But that is only when payment is made online. If the transacting parties meet face to face and pay physically, Nabbesh will lose out on the fees. Ms Baz knows that is a loophole.

"But we will incentivise online payment, especially for long-distance transactions," she says. "Also, it is less risky."

Another reason: it would help Nabbesh to become a regional website.

"Rima is from Syria, I am from Lebanon, and we have both faced lack of opportunities, poverty and women's issues in our countries," Ms Baz says. "We want to create opportunities for skilled people in Mena."

 

ssahoo@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Miele coffee maker making Cappuccino at Miele Gallery in Sama Tower in Dubai. The cost of this coffee maker is around Dh 17,000. Pawan Singh / The National

Space-age coffee comes at a price from Miele

Miele have taken the coffee machine to a new level with its Dh17,000 offering that is built into your kitchen.

 The bridge of Seajacks Hydra, as the wind farm installation vessel undergoes finishing touches and testing works at Lamprell’s Hamriyah facility in Sharjah before its planned delivery on June 2, 2014. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In pictures: Building the Seajacks Hydra

The Seajacks Hydra, a wind farm installation vessel, is undergoing finishing touches and testing works at Lamprell’s Hamriyah facility in Sharjah before its planned delivery on June 2, 2014.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 The rush of new supply of hotel rooms pushed Dubai occupancy rates down to 87 per cent. Sarah Dea / The National

Dubai hotel room rates rise 10 per cent

The rush of new supply pushed occupancy rates down to 87 per cent, a dip of 2.6 per cent from the previous year. Winter months are the strongest for Dubai hotels, with occupancy and prices falling to half their peaks by July.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National