During this time (and always!) it is so important to support local and the small business in our communities. Plus it’s great for the economy too! We are constantly inspired by the ambition and resilience of small business founders. We feel that the risks that they take lead to innovation and help in moving the world forward.
Inspired by these entrepreneurs and their stories, we recently chatted with Rana El Chemaitelly – owner of The Little Engineer, about being an entrepreneur, running a small business while also running a family, and how she has adapted to the changes that Covid-19 has brought to her business.
What is your business about and why did you start it?
The Little Engineer is dedicated to educating young minds and increasing public understanding and appreciation of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Done through proven hands-on learning activities. Our STEM content focuses on Robotics, Renewable Energy, coding, Internet of things, artificial intelligence and several industries like space, aviation, automotive and oil and Gas. All our trial sessions and full courses are delivered in an easy yet very effective method with the aim to bridge the gap between theory and practice & schools and universities. We prepare young minds the 4th industrial revolution and tomorrow’s jobs.
We have 5 tracks for different age groups. During each track kids will learn about robots, controllers, sensors, gearbox, simple & complex mechanisms and they will use different coding language to program their robots. They will have the chance to explore the world of 3D modelling and 3D printing. As well as renewable energy resources that will fuel our future.
The first reason that spurred me to set up The Little Engineer was to have an after-school activity centre. Here youngsters aged four to 12+ can learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics! My son Malek, was only seven years old but he was addicted to electronic games! Which is why this idea came into my head. The more time he spent on them, the more unsociable he was becoming. I decided that youngsters today need a place where they can use the Technology in an active way. Where they learn and engage in more practical and sociable activities rather than being passive behind the electronic games.
What do you love about your business?
My business needs a continuous development and is moving very fast with technology. There is no way to get bored, I am always busing in generating new workshops and courses to aspire and inspire young minds about STEM fields and emerging industries.
How do you manage your time between running a business and a family?
Time management is a skill that we must learn once we decide to be an entrepreneur. I am very happy being busy and I know that time is money. So, I make use of every single second. And whenever it comes to family I make the quality of time dominant on the relation between me, my lids and my parent. I am clear and transparent when I can not give a lot of time, anytime they want. They understand that I am too responsible and they plan with me. We have to pay tax on success and gladly without regret. As far as we are reflecting the good qualities to our children they will be even better than us.
How has Covid-19 affected your business and how have you adapted?
It has been a while since we have been facing some challenges of the COVID Pandemic. Be it lockdowns, no schools, no extracurricular activities, less teamwork, or a general sense of reduced social life. We at The Little Engineer, from the founder to the R&D team to the operational team, are still working hard, behind the scenes, preparing for a better tomorrow. With our passion for STEM education and our pro-active innovative approach for sustainability, we are doing well and pivoting the business. Revisiting the great work we did over the past 11 years of success and preparing ourselves for the post-Corona phase. We have to catch the wheel of technology before it is too late. Hoping that tomorrow is more demanding, we should be all ready for the post-COVID-19 journey.
With the forced stop that we encountered in our educational system, imposing the online learning and social distancing, students will return eager for learning, teaming up, collaborating to enjoy the hands-on learning activities in the field of STEM. We are working hard to aspire and inspire them with new topics to prepare them to face tomorrow’s challenges. The COVID phase was taken as an opportunity to engage in revolutionary STEM activities for students. We promise to provide the best for learners to recap whatever they missed during the pandemic. This, in alignment with our mission, our goal for Generation Z and The I Generation is to excel to be ready for a better tomorrow.
All being said, COVID-19 was less of a blessing and more of a burden on our collapsing Lebanese economy. The dire economic climate could no longer harness Lebanon’s native talents. This pushed us outside the country to secure the sustainability of the STEM empire that we have been building since 2009. It is for this reason that The Little Engineer has decided to translocate and establish a new headquarters in the UAE.
In the light of our commitment to SDG 17, we have strategically partnered with StuDiYo Lab in Dubai. We are joining forces as two STEM solutions providers to invest in young minds. Partnerships with like-minded organizations who have the same vision and mission, makes us certain that we will move stronger and approach a shared exponential growth after the pandemic.
We have to support each other and keep investing in young minds amidst all challenges so that they become well-prepared future talents for ready for tomorrow’s innovative industries.
Any piece of advice to other small businesses owners or anyone wanting to start their own business?
Please don’t blame yourself for struggling with this pandemic! You are not alone, it is a global crisis hitting all of us. Be strong and step back to reflect, revise, pivot your business to be ready for the post Corona. If your business can’t survive now, it is ok think of a new one , keep moving with the flow.
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