Luma Saqqaf, founder of pilot business mentoring program Jeeran, tells how her vocation grew.


There is a seed for Jeeran in everything I’ve done before, especially in Palestine and the poorer areas of Jordan. For 17 years I’ve struggled with sitting here in Dubai feeling I couldn’t do anything about it. I spent 15 years of my life as a finance lawyer; after I left the law in 2009, I went into coaching and that gave me another layer of being able to reach people.

My first mentee was someone I knew. We agreed to talk every Friday morning for six months. By then her sales had increased by 30%, she had a proper marketing strategy and had understood who her client base was. So it was wonderful to see what you can achieve with real mentoring and care.

The most important part is understanding what the role of the mentor is. Some people think it’s problem solving. It’s not; it’s teaching how to think, how to make decisions, asking a lot of questions: is there another way, what about so-and-so, have you spoken to someone about this?

The next thing I knew I was helping more and more small business owners who came to me through contacts in Jordan and Palestine. As an individual, there’s only so much I can do, so for it to become what I wanted, it had to become bigger than me. And the minute I mentioned it to organizations they said, ‘Yeah, we want to be part of that’.”

For more info – Jeeran website

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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