In Jordan with Al Masar
Andrea Zuluaga, MBA at London Business School
My first 3 weeks in Jordan have been absolutely amazing–from a high impact consulting project to discovering Jordan behind the family doors to visiting the country’s many tourist attractions…
Widad, the Endeavor Entrepreneur I’m working with, is an inspiring and passionate professional. Al-Masar, her business, serves children with special needs through a full-time school and therapy services. I was very lucky to be here a week ago for the five-year celebration. Widad and her partners are expert therapists and highly respected in their profession. With Al-Masar she decided to take another challenge for which she had no formal training: Becoming a manager. With every conversation, I can see that she has very good instincts about the economics of her business and knows directionally where she needs to adjust to grow. My contribution is therefore not revolutionary business ideas, but rather providing additional tools, metrics and financial capabilities so she can effectively execute on her ideas and vision.
I could not have arrived at a friendlier place than Al-Masar–from the first day, when they picked me up at the airport sometime after midnight, to the invitations to connect with their families. I have now been to an all-female graduation party, a family lunch and a house party. I’ve also had the opportunity to talk to many inspiring Jordanian women, who have opened to me their thoughts, dreams and concerns–and have had many incredibly revealing conversations about their culture and reality.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention: Jordan is a beautiful country! Snorkeling in the Red Sea has been one of the most memorable experiences, and I found Wadi Rum, a desert of changing colors absolutely beautiful (although a whole day in the scorching sun might be too much). I could go on, mentioning the Wadi Mujib, Dead Sea, Citadel and Amman in Pink with the sunset (plus, I am saving Petra for last…); it’s truly a privilege to be here.
Figuring our monetization in Amman
Shobhit Datta, MBA at Columbia Business School
I have been in Amman for a month now. It is a fascinating and very laid-back city. I am working with the Endeavor Entrepreneurs at Jeeran.com, and my project is to help them figure out possible monetization strategies. Online advertising is not a great option anywhere, but with much lower advertising rates in emerging markets it is even less lucrative here. This, coupled with reluctance for businesses and consumers to spend online, makes monetization very challenging for Internet businesses. After brainstorming for a couple of weeks, we have decided on a couple of options to implement as mini-experiments. Since one is mostly in uncharted territory here, the experimental mindset is important as it is very likely that we would have to revamp our strategy a lot as we meet potential customers. We are trying to borrow from the Customer Development Methodology to see if our hypothesis is validated before we invest resources in building our new offering. (As an MBA student, I felt this update would be incomplete without mentioning some framework or methodology — I’m curious, did any other eMBAs apply 4 P’s for their project?) Wish us luck!
As for non-work things, here are few highlights:
– Every morning, getting to admire the view of sand-colored houses on the hills of east Amman with the sun rising behind them
– Going to a colleague’s home for lunch and being ordered by this colleague’s mom to come to lunch everyday so she can practice her English!
– The fascinating (and often bizarre) conversations with cab drivers in a mixture of English, Arabic, and hand gestures
– Weekend road trip to Wadi Rum and getting confused what to wish for after watching several shooting stars (I dipped into my beauty pageant experience and chose “world peace”)
– Planned trips to Cairo and Lebanon!