If you have ever dreamt of owning your own chocolate factory, this entrepreneur will spark some envy in you.
If you’ve ever dreamt of owning your own chocolate factory, this entrepreneur will spark some envy in you. Sonya Mohamed Abdulla Janahi, whose background is due to over twenty years in Bahrain’s banking sector, may be the founder and CEO of Bahrain’s premium artisan chocolate brand, Maya La Chocolaterie. Launched in July 2007, Janahi took benefit of untapped opportunities in the Kingdom to produce a niche F&B concept around an ingredient she’s particularly passionate about: chocolate.
The aficionado, who pursued a specialist Chocolatier Certification from Ecole Chocolate, debuted with a concentrate on healthy, preservative-free ranges of chocolates and desserts, and continued to introduce the Maya chocolate bar concept out of its chocolate factory- which, at that time, was a a significant new concept, and paved just how for a homegrown Bahraini brand to be exported beyond its market as a franchise business. Through the same year, Janahi also established The Living Concepts, a hospitality and F&B consultancy company that aims to create Bahrain-born brands which can be franchised internationally, and she’s also founded other brands such as for example Maya Delices and ChocoB’s.
Janahi’s entrepreneurial drive was ignited when she felt an inclination to “promote change for the better of the marketplace.” Forgoing the original corporate setting began when the founder felt that “what I was doing had not been enough, and I would have to be able to do a lot more to create the required change that may reflect not merely on myself, but also on the society, the sector, and future generations.” And with Maya La Chocolaterie, Janahi has clearly were able to make a dent on the market. “Maya as a brand has already reached an adult stage of validation, and the next thing is to expand the brand globally with the optimization of technology and affiliations/JVs with new partners to produce a global brand,” she says.
Source: Maya La Chocolaterie
With franchise locations obtainable in Bahrain, Riyadh and Jeddah (and soon in Europe, US, Canada, Australia, SOUTH USA, and choose Asian markets), Maya La Chocolaterie’s philosophy is due to creating “a business about great chocolates, breakthrough recipes and passion for what we do every daya unique experience,” which includes enabled the enterprise to grow through franchises and strategic partnerships. Its state-of-the-art facility in Bahrain produces the average 25 tonnes of chocolates annually, serving a wide range 200 types of delicacies from pralines, truffles, chocolate pastries, crepes, waffles, and an array of hot and cold chocolate drinks, and also tinkering with spices and herbs for distinct flavors that provide the brand an extra edge, as well as the quality of the raw chocolate.
Managing various entities and roles takes dedication and discipline, so when asked about the strategies she uses to accomplish everything, Janahi says it’s about being flexible (yet organized) together with your key milestones at heart, delegating responsibilities, and managing your expectations. With regards to making critical decisions, Janahi encourages entrepreneurs to reflect what’s it set for the team and stakeholders, and the worthiness it will enhance the economy. But most of all, she states it’s about passion in her endeavors: “My passion drives me to constantly work and aspire for greater milestones.”
The founder and CEO believes that as a leader, you need to have the intention to bring the very best out of, challenge, and reward employees to grow and develop their capabilities. Besides respect and trust, she also emphasizes on the need for transparency together with your team to make sure that no matter one’s position, many people are in tune with the aim, and can share the passion. “Creating a culture where everyone feels [like] they are partners and not simply employees is vital, which is why many who’ve been around for over 15 years, share our vision for development.”
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Source: Maya La Chocolaterie
Janahi can be an ardent advocate of Bahrain’s entrepreneurial ecosystem as a board person in the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI), she heads the steering committee managing the 10 sectorial committees, and she’s also an associate of the audit committee, head of the business enterprise management system committee, and head of the working committee for the Arab Businessmen and Investors Conference (ABIC), which is scheduled to occur from November 11th to 13th 2019.
Janahi notes they’re currently along the way of transforming BCCI to become prominent partner available community, with a concentrate on non-oil sectors that the BCCI identifies will add value to the economy and support the Bahrain Vision 2030. Held beneath the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, the ABIC (which is held with the Entrepreneurs Investment Forum 2019) aims to gather stakeholders such as for example policymakers, regulators, investors, entrepreneurs, and universities to foster an ecosystem which will enhance MENA’s business sector.
Janahi calls it a “challenging, but rewarding experience,” since it will create the required information to aid the economy and hopefully, future generations. She encourages entrepreneurs to get a global vision, and states Bahrain’s business-friendly conditions as perfect for any business design to created and tested. An integral consideration, she says, is to truly have a good legal structure and a trusted accountant to be the “backbone of the business, and who may bring you right down to reality, if necessary.” But also for sustainability, she says, “Entrepreneurs must ensure their model can have a forward thinking edge, and will sustain globally, and not simply in Bahrain.”
Source: Maya La Chocolaterie
In terms of obstacles she’s faced, Janahi says that, like many SMEs, finding funds and having VC entities who have confidence in her vision is a challenge. She feels that there’s still too little in the centre East who’ve an “appetite to talk about the passion and the chance for SMEs, never to just succeed within Bahrain, but also to be global brands.” Has being truly a female entrepreneur affected her at all? Janahi states that she hasn’t faced any pressure or restrictions in her career up to now due to her gender.
“Actually, I’ve always felt empowered, and was mentored by a lot of women and men who were my superiors, and mentored me to be who I am today. Furthermore, of course, my parents always believed in me, and gave me the strength and capacity to have faith, perseverance, and a vision for success. As a worker or an employer, I never really had to compete with a guy to prove myself, actually I had to contend with ‘the best,’ irrespective of gender.”
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