Nermin (Fawzi) Sa’d, Founder & Managing Director Handasiyat.net & SDB (Smart Detection Bra), talked with Dr. Tausif Malik, Founder-Editor of GCC Region’s First Startup & Entrepreneurship Newspaper ‘gccstartup.news’. Here are the excerpts of the Interview.
Dr. Tausif Malik .Please give us brief background about your self ?
Nermin (Fawzi) Sa’d. I am a fiercely independent woman, who recognizes the needs /struggles of modern Arab woman. I was listed in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 “100 World’s Most Powerful Arab Women” for my achievements and impact in my region. I am a-Senior Mechanical Engineer and a multi-award winning serial entrepreneur, I’m CEO Founder of Handasiyat.net & my new new initiative SDB (Smart Detection Bra). I graduated from the University of Jordan, and lived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for over 15 years working as freelance engineer. I have worked with many leading companies and executed many projects, where I simultaneously built bridges of trust with my clients. I also participated in the translation field, working on engineering related topics, in an effort to enrich Arabic Content in the field.
Dr. Tausif Malik. You were named 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes Middle East; please share your journey?
Nermin (Fawzi) Sa’d. I was named by both Forbes & Arabian Business as one of the 100 World’s Most Powerful Arab Women for three years in row (2014, 2015 and 2016), and this was as recognition for my achievements and impact in the region. Through my business journey I had reached peak accomplishments within short period of time and had the privilege to meet & be recognized by many powerful people like Mr. John Kerry who I not only meet and pitched my company to but I was the only Arab and only women who was mentioned in his speech at the 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) as a role model of entrepreneurship with high social impact!
I was also invited to many reputed events, summits and workshops as a key speaker. the latest was being a key speaker at the MiSK Global Forum in Riyadh – Saudi Arabia after an invitation by HRH Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.
Before that I was also a key speaker at the 2016 GES in California – USA where I was invited by the White House to participate in the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Silicon Valley, California, USA as a key speaker joined with US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Google CFO Ruth Porat and White House Ambassador for entrepreneurship Nina Vaca, and we were talking about Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership. These are only two examples of my activities … Through these years and activities I tried my best to be an ideal role model for women in my community passing the message that we all can do it since if one can do it then anyone can do.I tried also to highlight the gaps that we need to fill in order to participate in the overall development in our region.
Nermin (Fawzi) Sa’d. The idea of creating our SDB was to increase the awareness regards the importance of early detection process by bringing more women into the process with the most flexible route.
Our SDB – Smart Detection Bra: is a wearable device created for breast cancer screening producing vital data sent to the women mobiles to be processed via cloud servers to be translated back into scanned images that can get medical assessment by physicians. The system gives the user the option to generate computerized assessment report of the current status by detecting minor changes across the collected historical data and compare it to the new readings (along with other indices) thus –if applicable- would include an advice to the woman to seek further medical doctor assessment.
The idea implementation was initiated by a group of engineers who merged their engineering background with medical facts to come up with this creatively promising device. Our management team consists of individuals having extensive experience in embedded systems designing and implementation and also includes business consultants. After the design stage, the team will include individuals involved in the breast cancer screening and diagnosis, radiologist, individuals experienced in the programming field and marketing professionals.
Our SDB can be characterized as a wearable breast-screening device that provides women with the option of having flexible screening tool that preserve their privacy and dignity within the comfort of their homes; thus allowing them to gently pass the first stage of breast cancer detection procedure efficiently in their very comfort zone without the need for any medical experience.
The device also offers an option to the already infected women to have handy follow up tool to scan and share their images with doctors in a routine basis without physical presence at hospitals.
SDB is a bra, equipped with a system of sensors programmed and linked to mobile application being part of a cloud processing system to detect unusual breasts’ status. The received data undergoes image-processing algorithms to produce real time scanned image on the mobile APP, further services of having computerized reports and/or medical consultants’ assessment of the scanned images are also available.
Our SDB aimed to be smart and friendly, taking early detection procedures into a completely new level. A patent for the design and for the used technology will be once we produce the first working prototype and get the medical required approvals.
Nermin (Fawzi) Sa’d. Handasiyat.net is a-Virtual Engineering Company which provides Engineering Support Services for firms operating in the MENA region. It is an-online service run by a-group of highly dedicated team members that offers the opportunity for Arab female engineers to work on a-freelance basis, from home, via a-remote platform. Our services are offered as an-outsource solution for firms in the engineering/construction industry.
The Construction Engineering Field is a-routine, systematic field where most of the emphasis is on innovating the technological aspects of the field, while less stress is placed on innovating the business-process. We at Handasiyat.net aim to use the INTERNET to conduct the bulk of our business, which will streamline our business process and client dealings, whilst simultaneously reducing many costs associated with offline business process. Our online platform enables clients the ability to constantly keep in touch with our progress through our virtual meeting room, which we consider to be our main competitive advantage.
This will be the only business providing services, fully online, employing Arabic Female Staff in the MENA region. The Arab culture is one where females are subjected to certain norms/standards which make full-time employment difficult when considering their household obligation. Motherhood has effectively become an-expiry-date in-terms of a-woman’s career aspirations. We aim to challenge this notion and provide females an-opportunity to succeed in both their professional and household careers. At Handisyat.net we believe that women do not expire… they inspire.
The culture of the Arab region is full of cultural stigma, which can provide barriers especially to women. Nevertheless, women in the region seek empowerment and continuous improvement, however they find it hard due to the notion that women are deemed to be financially dependent on others throughout their lives. We aim to address their need through our business model. Our female employees can now make use of their qualifications, gain a-steady income while working flexibly around their roles as mothers and wives. So far, it has been generally considered that women are duty bound to their households.
Many go through all their lives without considering that a-balance may exist. Motherhood, has effectively become an-expiry date in terms of a-woman’s career aspirations. We aim to challenge this notion and provide females in the region an-opportunity to succeed in both their professional and household careers. At Handisyat.net we believe that women do not expire… they inspire.
Successful business venture starts with an-idea, a-seed that grows if nurtured and taken care of with passion and attention. When I had the idea to start Handasiyat.net, it sprung from the pure intention to help other female engineers to use their qualifications and combat cultural stigma which may be of hindrance. Handasiyat had started on Jun./2012 with a small experienced and dedicated team, since then Handasiyat’s idea grabbed the attention regionally and globally, the initiative won, nominated & honored in many reputed events worldwide!
Dr. Tausif Malik. In one of the articles you said, majority of women don’t disclose their symptoms to Doctors, hence detection & treatment of breast cancer is not possible.
According to you, what can be the solution to overcome this scenario?
Nermin (Fawzi) Sa’d. I believe that if someone want to help really help and not only pretending to offer help, then your solution should be customized to suit the environment where the problem exist!
MENA region in general is considered to be a conservative community where shyness and embarrassment play great role in controlling our attitudes. In a survey that we made that includes more than 1000 women from the region: shyness and embarrassment represent 80% of the reasons why women in the region don’t go through breast cancer early detection procedures where women have to expose their bodies to others and have to accept on being touched also which is unacceptable to many.
Because of all that and many other aspects in the region we come up with the idea of our SDB, where women could go through this very important procedure from the comfort of their own homes with full privacy.
Nermin (Fawzi) Sa’d. Our methodology -In the beginning- depends on partnerships with big institutions that are specialized in the Breast Cancer Early Detection where they have access to thousands of women within their communities. Governments and Health care ministries are also included within our plan in spreading the idea and inviting more women to use our device. Insurance companies are also one of the main institutions that will benefit from this device and will act as a key promoters.
These are some examples of where we are planning to start in order to bring huge masses into the use of our device.
Dr. Tausif Malik. Based on your experience, what are the challenges Muslim Entrepreneurs and startups face; especially Women Muslim Entrepreneurs?
Nermin (Fawzi) Sa’d. Well, allow me to object on the term “Women Muslim Entrepreneurs”! For me entrepreneurship has no religion, it has no gender, it has no borders, it has no age … it has nothing to do with any of these aspects/variables … entrepreneurship is the creativity of finding solutions to problems and that’s it! So I refuse to relate it or attach it to any variables other than Problem VS Solution relationship!
For an entrepreneurship ecosystem to succeed there are many stakeholders that have to be considered: The problem, The entrepreneur (no matter what is the gender, religion, place …etc.), The suggested solution, The customers, The applicable policies and the community … These are the main six items that affect any entrepreneurship ecosystem. Through my experience I had seen many cases where these 6 items played different roles in succeeding or failing many startups, while being Muslim or being Women were not in the list. This is because of many changes that happened through decades that had changed the old stereotypes towards women.
I know many entrepreneurs in my community who succeeded and others who failed and the key of those who succeeded was the right solution at the right timing in the right market and of course the hard work.
But one thing that have to be mentioned here is: Through my journey I’ve met tens of entrepreneurs and red about hundreds worldwide, one main difference that I’ve really touched very clear between entrepreneurs in the western countries and our region is … We are afraid of Failure and hence surrender very easily or lets say faster than other entrepreneurs in other countries.
Dr. Tausif Malik. Finally, a message to Women Muslim Entrepreneurs?
Nermin (Fawzi) Sa’d. My message to all entrepreneurs in my community is: If you have an idea for doing something START doing it because after ten years from now you’ll wish that you had started before ten years! So NOW is the best time to start.
Don’t seek for perfection because there are no such thing in the entrepreneurship field: Problems will always appear and develop as you are going-on in your business. Just launch your startup and start enjoying the surprises that will appear along the road. Take these problems as challenges and not as a failure signs.
Study your market very well, know your customers and review policies these things will shortcut many obstacles in your way.
Always look for good partners and enthusiastic member team … they are one major key for success.Don’t compete with anyone other than your self … always seek to be better than yesterday.
This will help you improve fast and in the right direction. If you compete with others then there are two options: (1) you are going to beat them but you are now an improved copy of your competitor and you’ve lost your own identity (2) you failed to compete and hence you’ve wasted a lot of time that could be invested in building your own identity. Clean your environment: get rid of all those people who let you down and who drain your energy and always surround yourself with positive people who push you forward.