*Text in English below.

Martin Zaarour, rođena i odrasla u drevnom gradu Byblosu, u Libanu, oduvek je gajila strast prema arhitekturi i nasleđu. Svoju ljubav prema dizajnu je sledila diplomirajući sa odlikama na Odeljenju za arhitekturu i dizajn na Libansko-američkom univerzitetu. Martin je započela svoju karijeru u Madridu i od tada je putovala svetom, uranjajući u različite kulture. Martinina posvećenost održivom razvoju i rodnoj ravnopravnosti dovela je do toga da postane izabrana za alumni program Youth Leadership u njegovom četvrtom izdanju, gde je predstavljala UNDP na Regionalnom forumu o rodnoj ravnopravnosti u Tunisu, ECOSOC-u u Skupštinskoj dvorani UN u Njujorku i IYF3 u Nanjingu.

Nakon završetka programa o ekonomskom osnaživanju u Vašingtonu, Martin je osnovala svoje preduzeće, Jar Thuraya. To je inicijativa koju vode žene, koja osnažuje žene koje rade u lokalnoj prehrambenoj industriji i slavi tradicionalnu libansku mouneh ili ako prevedemo – zimnicu. Martin je završila program Kulinarske diplomatije sa ambasadom SAD u Bejrutu i trenutno studira Upravljanje projektima i UX dizajn. Takođe je deo Agore za inovacije o rodu UNWOMEN MENA. Martin je posvećena implementaciji održivih strategija u svom radu na ostvarivanju rodne ravnopravnosti i osnaživanju.

jar thuraya
Foto – Jar Thuraya

CSP avantura i izazov

Ona je jedna od prvih CSP stipendista koje sam upoznala na aerodromu u Frankfurtu. A ugostila je mene i još dvoje stipendista kada smo posetili San Francisko.

“Promenila sam karijeru, prešla sa arhitekture na preduzetništvo, radeći na promociji rodne ravnopravnosti i tradicionalne hrane. To je bio preokret u mom životu. Ponosna sam što sam mogla da izgradim MSP koje osnažuje lokalne žene koje pripremaju tradicionalne proizvode. Pružamo im finansijsku podršku i priznanje za njihov trud kroz pričanje njihovih priča. Uspela sam da registrujem kompaniju u Libanu i Velikoj Britaniji, a naša roba je trenutno dostupna na tržištima SAD, Australije i Katara”, kaže Martin.

Kao CSP stipendistkinja, Martin je živela u San Francisku četiri meseca i radila u organizaciji Centro Community Partners u Ouklendu.

Jar Thuraya
Foto – Jar Thuraya

Razmišljajući o svom najvećem profesionalnom izazovu, rekla mi je: “Mesec dana pre nego što sam se preselila u San Francisko, moj suosnivač, koji je trebalo da vodi posao tokom mog odsustva, odustao od svojih odgovornosti. Našla sam se u situaciji da pokušavam da se nosim sa već uspostavljenim poslom i pripremam se za novu avanturu. Bila je potrebno posvećenost i naporan rad da bih se prilagodila promenama i okružila pravim ljudima.”

Martin kaže da je njen život u San Francisku bio avantura. “Naučila sam kako ljudi mogu širiti dobru energiju i učiniti da se osećate bolje pokazujući ljubav i podršku. Naučila sam da se mnogi mladi ljudi interesuju za održivost i ulažu napore u razvijanje veština koje će im pomoći da ostvare uticaj.” Planira da otvori centralnu kuhinju za žene s kojima sarađuje u Libanu, kako bi im stvorila siguran prostor za rad i proizvodnju većih količina za snabdevanje većih tržišta.

Jar Thuraya
Foto – Jar Thuraya

Žene u poslovnom svetu

Kao žena u poslovnom svetu u Libanu, Martin ima iskustvo u dve oblasti – arhitekturi i preduzetništvu.

“Kao arhitekti, uvek je bilo izazovno biti na građevinskim lokacijama, bilo je zastrašujuće i iscrpljujuće zbog ogromnog rodno zasnovanog jaza u industriji. Međutim, radeći u preduzetništvu, imala sam priliku da upoznam mnoge druge žene poput sebe koje se zalažu za rodnu ravnopravnost i pokušavaju da predstave žene u različitim oblastima. To je osnažujuće, posebno uz prisustvo mnogih drugih posvećenih pojedinaca.”

Gledajući u budućnost, Martin je podelila svoje planove: “Nadam se da ću moći da se vratim u San Francisko i otvorim kuhinju odatle koja će funkcionisati kao distribucijski centar za nove proizvode inspirisane libanskom kuhinjom.”

Koliko ja znam, ona se tamo zaista vratila, pa čekam vesti o daljem razvoju njenih planova.

Jar Thuraya
Foto – Jar Thuraya

From an architect to an entrepreneur

Martine Zaarour, born and raised in the ancient city of Byblos, Lebanon, has always been passionate about architecture and heritage. She pursued her love for design by earning a degree with honors in Architecture and Design from The Lebanese American University. Martine began her career in Madrid and has since traveled the world, immersing herself in different cultures. Martine’s dedication to sustainable development and gender equity led her to become a selected winner and Alumni of the Youth Leadership Program in its fourth edition, where she represented UNDP at the Regional Gender Forum in Tunis, ECOSOC at the UN Assembly Hall in New York, and IYF3 in Nanjing.

After completing her fellowship in economic empowerment in Washington DC, Martine founded her own social enterprise, Jar Thuraya. It’s a women-led initiative that empowers women working in the local food industry and celebrates traditional Lebanese mouneh. Martine has completed the Culinary Diplomacy program with the US Embassy in Beirut and is currently studying Project Management and UX Design. She is also a part of the Gender Innovation Agora for UNWOMEN MENA. Martine is dedicated to creating social impacts and implementing sustainable strategies in her work towards gender equity and empowerment.

CSP adventure and a challenge

She is one of the first CSP fellows that I met at the airport in Frankfurt. And she hosted me and a couple of fellows when we visited San Francisco.

“I changed careers from architecture to entrepreneurship working in gender advocacy and traditional food. It was a life-changing turn of events. I am proud that I could build an SME that empowers local women who prepare traditional preserves. Allow them to financially sustain themselves and offer them acknowledgment for their efforts by telling their stories. I was able to register a company in Lebanon and the UK and our merchandise are currently available in the US, Australian and Qatari Markets,” says Martine.

As a Community solutions fellow Martine lived in San Francisco for four months and worked in Centro Community Partners in Oakland.

Reflecting on her biggest career obstacle, she shared, “A month before moving to San Francisco, my co-founder, who was supposed to manage the business during my absence, resigned from his responsibilities. I have found myself trying to deal with a running business and preparing for a new adventure. It took commitment and hard work to keep up with the changes and surround myself with the right people.”

Martine says that her life in San Francisco was an adventure. “I learned how people can spread good energy and make you feel better by showing love and support. I learned that many young people are interested in sustainability and are invested in developing skills that will help them make an impact.” She added, “I plan to open a central kitchen for the women I work with in Lebanon to create for them a safe space to work and produce bigger quantities to supply bigger markets.”

Women in Business World

As a woman in business world in Lebanon, Zaarour said, “As an architect, it was always challenging to be around construction sites, it was intimidating and exhausting due to the huge gender gap in the industry. However, working in entrepreneurship, I got the chance to meet many other women like myself who are advocating for gender and trying to represent women in different fields. It is empowering especially with the presence of many other committed individuals.”

Looking towards the future, Zaarour shared her plans, “I hope to be able to go back to San Francisco and launch a kitchen from there that will be operating as a distribution hub for new products inspired by Lebanese cuisine.”

As far as I know she did go back there, so I’ll be waiting for the updates.