Bloomberg and IBT: Business women in Iran – Ready for take off!

Excerpts of “Women in Iran Are Ready to Show They Mean Business” from

Women in Iran are ready to make career gains in a way few of their peers can in the Gulf Arab world.

Thirteen years after Mona Hajialiasghar started out as an asset manager in Tehran, she’s chief operating officer of Kardan Investment Bank, which oversees about $300 million invested in Iran. As her country edges toward an historic agreement that promises to plug it back into the global economy, she already sees more women joining her.

“The presence of women in Iran in the workplace and in higher education is much more serious now compared to when I first started,” said Hajialiasghar, 35, who has a master’s degree in business management. “With younger women entering the market, firstly their numbers are much higher, but also their confidence is much higher.” […]

Young couples enjoy a meal in a western style restaurant in Tehran. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Young couples enjoy a meal in a western style restaurant in Tehran. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Kardan’s chief executive officer, Majid Zamani, said that across Iran’s nine investment banks, the presence of women is high compared with other industries and in some cases it even outnumbers men like himself. “I’d say this is definitely the case in the capital markets in Iran,” Zamani said. “We’re looking for dedicated, committed people and contrary to what’s sometimes the public perception, women tend to be the strongest candidates in this regard.” […]

While women have been legally obliged to cover their hair and adapt Islamic rules of modesty in clothing since the revolution in 1979, they have never faced limitations when it comes to driving, voting and access to education. They also occupy some top political jobs – three of President Hassan Rouhani’s vice presidents are women.

Bloomberg - 2015.10.01 - Women in Iran Are Ready to Show They Mean Business 2

Employees work at the Tehran Stock Exchange in Tehran.
Photo by: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The nuclear deal “means economic empowerment for women in Iran,” said Suzanne DiMaggio, director of the Iran Initiative at New America Foundation in New York, a not-for-profit research organization. “Already today there are more women than men studying at Iranian universities, and they also work for a living and can own businesses and vote, so once sanctions are lifted and Iran reintegrates into the global economy, that should help women.”

Government figures show 72 percent of working women in Iran are employed by private enterprises. That’s the area of the economy that’s set to burgeon after sanctions stifled business, according to Shahindokht Molaverdi, one of the country’s three female vice presidents.

While Iranian law protects equal pay in government jobs and there’s maternity leave of as long as 12 months in some departments, women in Iran face much of the same problems as they do in the western world. There are disproportionately fewer of them in the executive suite after making up more than half of university places. They also suffer from a higher rate of unemployment, which at 19 percent is more than twice the figure for men, according to Iran’s National Statistics Organization. […]

Fatemeh Moghimi started her trucking business in Tehran 26 years ago after finishing a degree at City University in London. She’s the first woman to be elected to the board of directors of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce and Industry and she employs several women as drivers.

“I was worried, because I wanted to start my business,” Moghimi, 57, said in an interview at her office at the Tehran Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where she spends her Saturday mornings mentoring dozens of mostly female entrepreneurs. “It took two years. I came across a lot of cultural barriers, with the mindset of people, rather than legal barriers.”

Excerpts of “Trendy Tehran – Meet the female entrepreneurs breaking boundaries in Iran” from the International Business Times:

Mahsa Rezazadeh started her café in Tehran seven years ago and now brings in a better wage than her husband, a lawyer. She attributes her success amid a sanctions-shattered Iranian economy to hard work and the fact that however bad things get in Iran, Iranians cannot resist the smell of a home-cooked meal and freshly brewed coffee. “People may cut other expenses but they don’t compromise their stomach,” Rezazadeh, a mother of two, tells IBTimes UK from her café Little House in central Tehran. […]

Like many Iranian entrepreneurs, Rezazadeh is hoping that the lifting of sanctions following the nuclear deal between Iran and the US will trickle down, so that those who frequent her café will have more money to spend on food and coffee. “If sanctions are lifted and my customers can pay more money and I will able to do more,” she said. […]

International Business Times - 2015.10.05 - Trendy Tehran Meet the female entrepreneurs breaking boundaries in Iran

An Iranian family look at bubbles as they shop at the main bazaar in Tehran. Photo credit: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty

Mona Mahpeyma, 25, is a graphic design graduate and aspiring fashion designer, who owns her own outlet in Tehran. […] “At first some thought that I as a woman could not make it but […] restrictions could not stop me. In business the restrictions for women are less than other areas like politics and sports,” she said. “The main restriction in doing business is financial, which is equal for men and women.”

The sanctions had been particularly problematic for Mahpeyma as they made the raw materials she needs far more expensive. She is hoping that Iran’s textile industry can now grow meaning her costs will go down. “At the time of the international sanctions imposed on us, the market for clothing and fashion was not money making. Now, if I decide to expand my business internationally without any sanctions I will have the opportunity to present myself as an Iranian designer internationally. Now I hope for a better change for women like me who have their own startups.”

Other interesting posts on Iranian women:

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