KuwaitOther News

Not what you expect: Kuwaiti small business owner talks journey

By Munirah Al-Fayez

KUWAIT: Business has been booming in Kuwait in the past couple of decades. Many Kuwaitis are considering setting up a business rather than being employed in the private or public sector, although many are wondering if this is the right option for them. Kuwait Times interviewed Dhuha Al-Surayei, co-founder of a well-known bookstore in Kuwait, to ask her about her entrepreneurial journey. Surayei said she had wanted to start a business ever since she was a child.

She said she couldn’t find stationery items like planners and congratulations cards that were in Arabic and had an Islamic theme, so she always made them herself, until it reached a point where she felt like she had to share them with other people. She said people around her believed in her and supported her, which helped in the success of her business. The business slowly grew online, until it became so big, she started needing outside help, and it could not just be a home business anymore.

Surayei said the easiest part about starting a small business is that it does not need a lot of money to start and maintain, because it is only part of your life. As the business grew, she discovered running a business is not exactly as she expected. She said she expected coming up with product ideas and designs would be difficult, but it was not. On the other hand, she expected the finance, accounting and monetary part would be manageable, but she discovered that it was not. After a while, and the more her business grew, the more Surayei needed support.

That is when her husband joined her, and a company was able to help her. She emphasised that her bookstore is “not reliant solely on Dhuha”, and that there is a team that helps with a lot. In general, Surayei said opening a small business in Kuwait is getting harder and harder, especially in terms of high costs when it comes to renting, and employees’ wages. She said there is no support for small businesses in Kuwait when it comes to renting stores in malls and commercial buildings. The bigger a business becomes, Surayei believes, the more details, tasks and expenses materialize that you never knew would come your way.

The Kuwaiti consumer, according to Surayei, is different but not difficult. She has noticed that Kuwaitis “are up to date on everything around the world and do not accept anything that is of low quality”. However, she believes that as long as you have something special that you believe in, then the consumer will cooperate. Surayei said if she had the ability to change one thing in Kuwait when it comes to opening a business, it would be the cost of renting stores in a mall and similar edifices.

She believes there needs to be prices that are specific for small Kuwaiti businesses. According to her, it is unrealistic to compare a Kuwaiti business that has just started and is trying to succeed in its first years with a multinational corporation that has been in operation for years. When asked if she has any advice for people who are considering starting a business, Surayei said people should ask and search for information and make sure that starting a business is truly something they want to do. She said one should ask about the failures, rejections and impediments, before asking about the successes, victories and joys of being self-employed. Starting a business, according to Surayei, is not all rainbows and sunshine. However, she believes that the beauty of owning a business is how tiring it is.

Back to top button