When Waed al Taweel started a business, she didn’t know she would become an entrepreneur. But the unknown did not stop the 18-year-old secondary school student from entering an entrepreneurship competition open to all students in the Palestinian Territories. For the competition she started a company called Teen Touch, which planned and managed special events in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Al Taweel hired 28 classmates to send out invitations, rent rooms and order food. Teen Touch organized children’s birthday parties and decorated private houses and buildings for holidays. It even opened a store to sell gifts for Valentine’s Day.
“We took care of all the arrangements from A to Z,” al Taweel said.
Teen Touch won a prize for the best student company in the Palestinian Territories. At the 2007 annual INJAZ al-Arab Regional Company Competition it was named the best student company in the Arab world. Al Taweel was also honored as the 2007 best student executive in the Arab world.
After six months, she sold her business and divided profits among investors as required by competition rules. Then her life started accelerating. Al Taweel went to college at Birzeit University. Then in 2010, President Obama invited her to the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington. She garnered attention as the youngest participant and as a speaker on youth entrepreneurship. Babson College president Len Schlesinger was so impressed by her that he offered her a scholarship to study in the business administration graduate program.
At that time, al Taweel said, she started “having dreams of my future business” — a recreation and entertainment center for young Palestinians in the West Bank. “Young Palestinians need a place like this because they have difficult lives,” she said. Al Taweel hoped her business would also create jobs for youth who do not have many employment opportunities. In 2010, close to 40 percent of young people in the West Bank and Gaza were unemployed, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.
But after talking to Babson professors, al Taweel realized how difficult it would be to make her idea reality. So she decided to focus on her studies first.
“They told me I would be better prepared to develop that idea when I complete my undergraduate studies,” she said.
Al Taweel said what happened in her life in the past three years was “overwhelming.”
“It has helped me realize what I want to do in the future,” she said. Not surprisingly, she wants to be an entrepreneur now that she has gotten the chance to test out her business ideas.
From A to Z (phrase): A common phrase that conveys the idea of "including everything.”
- Our party planning business will take care of all your needs from A to Z. We handle music, flowers, catering — we can even find you a place to get married.