Last year SPARK, together with Hemmat Shabab Foundation, established a business incubation center in Yemen, called Noah’s Ark. In the midst of the current war, Noah’s Ark incubation center could be a roof over the head of Yemeni businesses. It allows start-ups a head-start to settle in and buckle up the safety belt. But this is only the beginning of a long bumpy road to success. For a business to survive an eventful journey, many factors, other than ‘luck’, play a role.  

Noah’s Ark offers businesses office space, electricity, internet, landline phones, printers, meeting spaces and water. Getting legal licenses, quality networking, administrative guidance, logistic support and awareness seminars are among the services they offer.

A place to stop worrying and start working

A business needs a good plan and a determined owner to keep at it and defy the odds. Ahmed Abdulhaleem Alareeqi and Feathelalah Ali Alhamdani are the owners of The Group Architectural Design. The Group was born in 2014 but remained limited because, ironically, the young architectures found it difficult to secure a building to work in. In 2017, they became a part of Noah’s Ark incubator. “We couldn’t find a place to start our business so we decided to become a member of Noah’s Ark. It was a place for us to start our work, focus and expand without worrying about tricky turns.”

Dare to begin!

As a business grows, so do its needs and objectives. The business owner needs to be strategy-ready. The Ark tries to arm businesses with tools to survive the early stage challenges. They learn how to study the market, think ahead, foresee threats and team-up with the right partners. Many businesses arrive at the center battered and bruised. They are taken in and put through an examination process to identify damages.

“Perspective” is what Noah’s Ark gave Osama Haji, 23, a Yemeni entrepreneur. He started Cool Films in 2016. At times he and his team had to work with little resources. “We needed electricity and internet connection to be able to work. Sometimes having access to these was a challenge. That’s when we decided to join the Ark. Here we have access to our basic needs and much more. The Ark taught me how to build strategic partnerships with stakeholders. It also helped me gain perspective.” Osama’s advice for young people out there with business ideas: “Just start! There is much help from business incubators. You just need to dare to begin.”

The Ark opened the doors to us

The Ark has recently turned 10 months old. With more than 30 businesses supported so far, it has become popular among Yemeni entrepreneurs who are looking after a business in an unfriendly economic system. Anwer Dahaq is the 29 year old founder of Youth of Peace (YOP). He started the organisation by bringing together a group of young people to advocate for peace in Yemen. On benefits of the Ark for his organisation, he says: “We needed financial resources and a place to start. We joined the Ark and right away we found ourselves involved with the international community. It opened the doors to us. Now we are hoping to become regional.”