x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Goumbook is the first step for green entrepreneurs

A couple of years ago, two women were looking for organic products in Dubai and could not find any, so decided to start a business that would help them in their quest.

Tatiana Antonelli Abella, left, and Randala Jishi Anabtawi have found success online.
Tatiana Antonelli Abella, left, and Randala Jishi Anabtawi have found success online.

DUBAI // A couple of years ago, two women were looking for organic products in Dubai and could not find any. Instead of giving up their search and abandoning their green ideas, they decided to start a business that would help them in their quest.

And as the UAE begins to adopt a greener attitude, Goumbook.com, the only green directory in the Middle East, is taking off.

Since launching in November last year, the "Green Pages" website has been creating an awareness of green products, providing news on eco-friendly topics and showing browsers where and how to recycle.

Intended initially as "a little database of green businesses" for Tatiana Antonelli Abella and Randala Jishi Anabtawi, the Dubai women who created the website, the idea took off immediately. After a month or two, visitors were flocking to the site, and a sponsor came on board soon after to create a real platform for the entrepreneurs.

"That made us understand the potential the business had, and the need for it," Ms Abella said. "It's been fantastic; we have more than 700 companies listed in the directory regionally."

Ms Anabtawi added: "And I think since we've put the website together, I have to say now people come to you and they're so happy to have this platform to be able to give them a voice and put them out there."

But she acknowledged that it had not been all smooth sailing. "Because we're a start-up and we didn't begin with a lot of money for public relations, it was difficult, and during the year all expenses came out of our pockets. And as we're green, it's very niche, so you had a very limited number of people who were interested,"

But being a specialised business ultimately worked to their advantage. "At the same time, because we're a niche, the people who were interested were extremely interested, because you don't have that many businesses in this field here, so it was like a novelty and we were lucky to get a lot of free publicity," Ms Anabtawi said.

A turning point, the women said, came a month ago during "Future Green", an event they organised dedicated to new businesses, technologies and services.

More than 35 companies participated, and it was such a great success that they were asked to hold the event again next year, and to open exhibitions in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

"The slogan is: Make your future green today. So if you want to have a water filter at home and start [recycling] your plastic bottles, you can come to the event, source the company next to you and they will come service you," Ms Abella said.

The pair are always thinking of expansion.

"We want to produce a collection of booklets for children, and this is a huge project. It's non-profit as we want to make ourselves available to everyone," Ms Abella said.

They plan to offer additional services to companies and create a section online dedicated to consulting for companies that want to enter the Middle Eastern green market.

 

cmalek@thenational.ae