Women Success Stories: Arzaq Al Najjar
Arzaq Al Najjar

Arzaq Al-Najjar is one of the women in Yemen whose story is exemplary for a strong and independent woman who went against all the traditional understanding that women should not contribute to the labor market.
Despite the pressure of her society to not participate in the public sphere, Arzaq started Mocha Valley, a company providing studies, training for coffee workers to ensure a quality standard for Yemeni coffee.

Having a background in English language, Arzaq felt most challenged by complex management tasks.

That’s why she completed her master’s in business administration in Lebanon. With the skills that she learned during her Master studies and her conviction that, as a woman, she has special management skills, she felt confident about the obstacles that would be ahead when starting her own company. Rooted from her love of coffee, Arzaq came up with an innovative idea that would benefit the Yemeni society, but that would also disrupt the coffee market – a market dominated by men.

Arzaq explains: “Our role as a company in this sector is to act as an impartial third party to judge the quality of the coffee and the matching process during testing process to ensure that the quantity matches the sent samples being sent.”

With her company, she therefore aims to establish a minimum quality standard for all Yemeni coffee, which contributes to a unified reputation of Yemeni coffee for potential experts. She elaborates: “When we examine the quality of coffee, we set certain quality standards for the farmer, the coffee traders and the companies. This creates an incentive to meet the required quality”. The mission of Mocha Valley is to maintain a stable reputation of Yemeni coffee in the foreign market which will result in an increase in the demand for Yemeni coffee outside. Hopefully the increase in coffee trade will significantly contribute to the development of Yemen.  
At the time Arzaq realized this was going to be her mission, she knew it would not be easy.

Women are being widely discriminated in the business and investment sector, which Arzaq had to fight against. On top of this, Arzaq realized that coffee traders would not find it easy to accept a quality monitoring company. These two factors made that Arzaq, being the face of Mocha Valley, had to work hard to convince the male dominated coffee trade market that it needed quality standards.
To create a supportive public opinion for her company, Arzaq started by presenting her mission to clients and train them in quality standards for free. 
Arzaq explains: “Slowly, the company that I managed created a need in the market for this service because the coffee workers were unqualified and untrained, and we started by providing knowledge and free training to coffee workers to understand why we need quality standards in Yemen”. Gradually, the community started to accept the mission of her company, until their commitment towards coffee standards sparked interest from international traders.

Arzaq was able to manage the road towards her success by having a plan and being aware of the obstacles on the way as much as she could.
One cannot always foresee every obstacle on the way, but when something unexpected came up, she tried to handle with it by being patient and honest. She explains: “my persistence to success and not giving up to despair or stumbling in front of obstacles helped me to succeed and thrive”.

She furthermore clarifies that she has not reached her goals yet. She has many more ambitions and is full of energy to further help the Yemeni economy.
Arzaq said: “a woman’s work reflects her identity.
To all those who perceive my journey as a struggle, I say to them that it is a journey full of enjoyment and discovery.   

I drew my roadmap, and I enjoyed following it. I advise all women to enjoy their journeys; they should know what they want in life.”

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