“Nadira El Khang came to the United States five years ago not knowing any English from a male-dominated society. Now, she speaks English, has a college degree and owns her own business. If that’s not the American Dream, I don’t know what is.”
This was my introduction to Nadira El Khang, which was given by an Accion volunteer, David, at Accion East’s MicroConsulting Program Celebration event last Wednesday at PIMCO’s New York City office. Accion East’s MicroConsulting Program, led by Accion’s Microfinance Council, pairs young professional volunteers with Accion East clients for a seven week consulting project with the goal of growing their business. (For more information about this program, I’ll be writing about that next week.)
Nadira owes her success to her talent. I can’t stop telling people how incredible her bags are. Standing in front of her exhibition table, I could see all of her talent manifested in the beautiful and stylish designs. Each of her handcrafted bags is soft to the touch and smells of rich leather. And, every bag is unique!
Nadira, a micro-entrepreneur and the founder of NadiraBag, grew up in Marrakesh, Morocco, a place where businesses are typically operated by men. It was difficult for this young lady, who dreamed about owning her own business, to break into the industry. Can you imagine how difficult it must be to have a dream that goes against the fabric of your society? Fortunately, Nadira had an extremely important person to support her dream– her Father. Her father is a business owner in Marrakesh and has been the only successful entrepreneur in her family. He is Nadria’s role model, teacher, and most importantly – supporter. Nadira came to the U.S. as an undergraduate student and majored in accounting at LaGuardia Community College. While studying, she couldn’t stop designing bags, which led her to start her own leather-making business. Her decision was solidified when EVERY SINGLE BAG WAS SOLD at the flea market in Williamsburg and at Chelsea Market.
To invest in the tools and materials she needed to get her business off the ground, Nadira used all her savings. However, in order to grow further, accessing capital was crucial. Accion East helped Nadira build her credit and also supported her with a microloan. Today, NadiraBag continues to grow with through a new studio space and website. Nadira has also sold over 134 handmade bags around the world through her Etsy store!
In the future, Nadira plans to hire talented women who want to work but who are unable to get jobs. The barriers for these women can be high because of household obligations and cultural restrictions. I am impressed by her accomplishments in the past and am excited to see her accomplishments in the coming years.
To support Nadira’s business, visit her website and purchase one of her handmade leather creations and to check out more pictures of Nadira at the Accion MicroConsulting Program Celebration, click here.