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Yara Ghouth launches 'Naseej Market' to craft the way for craftsmen Built by locals, for locals
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 24 - 01 - 2022

JEDDAH – A young woman's entrepreneurial dream that she cherished since childhood pushed her forward during her journey searching for a job.
Yara Ghouth drove out laziness and disappointment when she was unable to find a job after her graduation from the University of Nottingham in the summer of 2019. She kick-started a more passionate and exciting journey by attending seminars that inspired her to start her own ambitious project – "The Naseej Market."
The spark of inspiration, ignited by Iman Shakur when she spoke about startup projects similar to that of Ghouth, prompted her in due course to start researching, exploring and pondering about laying bricks of her pristine project.
Soon Ghouth, now an inspiring young Saudi woman entrepreneur, proudly announced the launch of her all-new tech startup called Naseej Market.
This social and creative online marketplace is emerging to redefine the e-commerce landscape of Saudi Arabia, and the team aims at expanding it to the rest of the Arab world and eventually worldwide.
On the drive behind her project, Ghouth said it came from "my love of handmade products, and a strong desire to move toward more ethical, sustainable forms of production and conscious consumerism".
"Buying local has many more benefits than buying from big-box chains and corporate companies.
"Local products have a story behind them, which I believe deserves to be heard," she added.
Ghouth calls herself as an entrepreneur at heart, recalling her experience in business since childhood. She said every summer she would start her own thing.
"I had a photography studio business, art classes for teens and kids, sold products from Amazon on Instagram, sold on Merch by Amazon, created custom Snapchat filters and more."
With all these small projects, "Naseej Market" was different, it was bigger than anything she had ever done before.
On her first real steps on the ground, Ghouth founded a team of Saudi web developers and started building the website. Meanwhile, from December 2019 till June 2020, she got a job as a junior architect. The job was very demanding, so it was difficult for her to work on Naseej on her little free time.
Ghouth said: "I took the tough decision to quit in June 2020 to dedicate my full-time to Naseej."
Quitting a regular 9-to-5 job helped Ghouth to focus more on Naseej and engage actively in pre-accelerators. She said, "I entered SPARK by NEOM and Misk and I started entering more pre-accelerators to learn from experts in the field and meet other entrepreneurs."
In September 2020, Ghouth noticed another obstacle on the way. The tech team couldn't complete the website while she was so eager to launch the market as quickly as possible. She had no option but to change her tech team. "I found a freelance Saudi web developer from BAHR, and a part-time CTO who voluntarily wanted to help save Naseej, and we managed to soft launch successfully in October 2020."
The COVID-19 pandemic has entirely reshaped the shopping behavior of people around the world and the 24-year-old aims to capitalize on this social change.
"We are a new digital platform that hosts local designers and independent businesses that create and sell unique and handcrafted products," Ghouth told Saudi Gazette.
"The idea of Naseej Market is brought to life after noticing a huge gap in the creative and handcraft field in Saudi Arabia, which include designers, artists and small business owners," she added.
According to Ghouth, both buyers and sellers in Saudi Arabia were facing several problems and Naseej aims to solve those problems.
In addition, Naseej means weaving or fabric in Arabic, and the startup believes in creating a common thread by uniting the local artists, designers, and craftsmen on one platform. The platform aims to act as a bridge between the artists and buyers and give birth to a revolutionary business model that has great potential for expanding to the entire Arab world.
Another key aspect of Naseej Market is building the local community through encouraging creativity, promoting small businesses, and opening up the opportunity to develop a stream of income from home, which could otherwise have been much more of a challenge to get off the ground.
In just four months, following its soft launch, the marketplace has attracted 50 sellers. There are over 800 products that are live on the website along with over 300 products sold — all outstanding achievements.
"Naseej Market, in a nutshell, is the Etsy of the Arab world and we aim to become the go-to marketplace for locally made products and ethically handmade authentic crafts," said Ghouth, while talking about the aim of her startup.
"In addition to products, we are introducing craftsmanship, talent, stories, experiences and connections," she added.
The emerging digital marketplace is founded on the principle of caring about the community and giving back to the local craftsmen. They believe that Naseej Market is "built by the locals, for the locals, to support the locals."
Ghouth currently is managing a passionate team of eight individuals who fully believe in Naseej's vision.
"I'm a solo founder; however, I am looking for a partner. Right now, my team consists of two males and six females, including me. We are also looking to hire full-timers, but recruiting isn't easy, but we're getting there hopefully," Ghouth said.


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