Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Young Entrepreneurs

When I was diagnosed with pneumonia, I was at the medical clinic in the Dubai Mall. Typical check-up, the doctor listens to my lungs and says "its not good". It sounds like you have bronchitis - maybe even pneumonia. Pneumonia? Ya, right. So I went to xray, came back and got the news. "You have pneumonia".

How does this happen? Well, be tired and run down and then get more tired and run down, and then get the flu the same time as your kid. You nurse him back to health so you dig down deep, and keep going. I don't know if its adrenaline, but mom's run on some super power when they need to. I feel like mine isn't as strong as a lot of other mom's I know, but we all have it to some degree.

The most amazing thing about pneumonia is how hearing that diagnosis psychology effects you. You suddenly feel the need to go lay down and sleep! But, before I slept I needed to go to the organic store in the same mall to pick up a few things. It was an exhausting short walk, but at least an interesting one.

It was spring break for most of the schools here and they were having a young entrepreneurs contest that many of the local high schools participated in. There were Emirates as well as expat children alike. There was a lot of jewelry making booths, some people selling techie things and a few off the wall things. I only wish I had the energy to wander through the hundreds of stalls there because a lot of the kids seemed quite board. I think there was an award for the best idea, and also who could make the most money from their idea. Most of them didn't seem to care about making money too much. Only one booth I passed really tried to encourage me to come to their booth. I really wish I had the energy to do so. They seemed so disappointed when I declined..and probably the dark circles under my eyes didn't help at all. I may have scared them.

The shocker for me in all of this was how many middle age Filipino women there were at the booths. No, they are not exchange students. They are the hired help - the maids and nannies - of the Emirates. And it wasn't just one or two - there were many of them. I saw some booths where it seemed the Filipino women were doing all the stock and inventory while the girls just hung out. I saw other booths with no students at all! I guess in some circles that could be considered innovative. Get someone to come set it all up for you and then you can show up later.

However, it kind of saddened me on some level. When I think of entrepreneur I think of getting your hands dirty. And I'm thinking of the women who were commissioned to go set it up for them. Are they thinking "How did I get here?"...maybe not, but I sure would be.

It would be easy for me to disregard this approach and say its lazy. They should do it themselves, etc. Maybe that is the case. And be sure if my son ever has to participate in a project like this for school, no way will someone else be sent to do it for him. If he sells enough widgets and then can pay for it himself, then more power to him, but I'm pretty confident that wasn't the case here.

I have to remember though, this is not America. Not everyone here is from a culture where you necessarily work hard with no help. Its just not something they grew up with. Don't get me wrong, there are many hard working Emirate people here who are making a difference. Disagree with their young entrepreneurial approach? Maybe. But this is their culture and I can't really criticize it because it is not mine to do so.

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