It was in 2018 that Al Sheemi decided to launch an online platform called ‘more than a mother’.
Asma Saber Al Sheemi had a successful career in digital marketing before quitting in 2013 to focus on raising her children. However, as the years progressed, the feeling of being unproductive haunted her. “I placed my children as my priority, but I also wanted to achieve my ambitions and be successful at the workplace,” the 31-year-old Egyptian national said.
In 2018, Al Sheemi decided to launch an online platform called ‘more than a mother’. It offers free vocational courses to empower stay-at-home mothers with necessary skills to freelance and work from home. Her project came after she faced a series of challenges to find a job as a mother.
Al Sheemi pursued a degree in social work in 2008 before working in digital marketing for five years. Being a stay-at-home mother for six years, she wanted to go back to pursuing her career that had changed due to the emergence of social media and other online platforms.
After finishing online courses and obtaining a marketing diploma, Al Sheemi’s real struggle started in landing a job.
“I searched for part-time jobs, but most of the offers I got did not meet my skills. I had ambitions to work at an agency, but I was rejected for being a mother who may fall behind in performance,” said Al Sheemi. “I was introduced to the then-new concept of freelancing in Egypt and started taking on tasks and working from home.”
Trying to take her experience to positively impact the lives of other women, Al Sheemi launched the online platform to foster a culture of freelancing among stay-at-home mothers, encourage distance learning and utilise technology for good. “Learning different skills can also allow women to start their own online businesses without letting go of their roles as mothers,” she added.
Al Sheemi, along with more than 20 volunteers, uses her skills to design online courses in different fields including marketing, graphic design and video editing and production.
Her team of volunteers across a range of specialisations helped introduce online courses in content creation, handicraft, handmade accessories and leather design to empower women to start their own businesses from home. The platform also provides a section for social media marketing to enable homemakers to promote their handicraft online, giving them the necessary photography and digital marketing skills.
“I have a strong team of volunteers who help in laying out different courses online and bringing in trainers to assist women throughout their course duration,” said Al Sheemi.
5 courses to 13
Al Sheemi started off the initiative with courses in five fields, which, thanks to the continuous contribution of volunteers, has now expanded to 13 fields. In its first year, the platform trained 1,000 women and the volunteers aim to reach 2,000 before the end of 2020.
But for Al Sheemi, the numbers do not compare to her sense of fulfillment when she sees a woman’s progress after taking the online courses. “A number of women who finished our courses have now started their online businesses. My role through this initiative is to give women the support they need to start their professional career.”
Al Sheemi’s ultimate goal is to fight the society’s stereotypes towards working mothers. “Woman can have children and remain productive at the workplace.”
The online classes are also designed for women with physical disabilities who cannot attend classes.
Her next step is to start a similar platform for younger audience titled ‘more than a child’ to equip children with different skills and promote productive use of smart devices.
To reach more women across the region, Al Sheemi aims to seek collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports or the Ministry of Social Solidarity to advance the platform and add more course material.
How the initiative works
>The online platform is run by over 21 volunteers
>It offers free vocational courses to empower stay-at-home mothers with necessary skills to freelance and work from home
>Courses on offer include marketing, graphic design and video editing and production
>Other courses like content creation, handicraft, handmade accessories and leather design empower women to start their own businesses from home
>It also teaches the mums social media skills to help them market their products
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