Great Shot: A woman photographer builds her business in Jordan

December 19, 2013
Sameera, Microfund for Women clients, stands smiling with her daughter outside their photo studio
Sameera, Microfund for Women clients, stands smiling with her daughter outside their photo studio

Sameera owns a photography studio in the Sahab neighborhood, a low income area of Amman, Jordan with a predominantly Bedouin population.  She is married and has four children, two girls and two boys, and has been a client of Microfund for Women (MFW) for 10 years.

Sameera started in photography when she married her husband, who is a professional photographer, and quickly learned the trade. She thinks that women are especially good at photography because it requires an artistic and sensitive approach, qualities that women tend to have.

“My husband taught me all I know about photography but now I am a better photographer than he is.”

– Sameera

Sameera got a loan from MFW to start her business (the first one for 1,000 dinar, approximately US$ 1,400). The beginning was especially tough, as she was the first woman to open a storefront business in the Sahab neighborhood, and the male shop owners didn’t approve of her presence. Many times, she arrived at the shop in the morning only to find her signage broken and her padlocks crushed. It took all her perseverance and strength to endure this harassment, but finally, she managed to gain acceptance and her business started to thrive.

In the studio, Sameera does all the work necessary to finish the photography process in-house, included printing the photographs, which allows her to get higher profit margins. Sameera is very aware of the importance of keeping the photography equipment as updated and state-of –the-art as possible, and periodically renews it through loans she gets from MFW, the latest one for 13,500 dinar (US$ 19,000). She also has four savings accounts in different banks.Would she ever consider getting a loan from a bank or an institution other than MFW? “No way,” she says, “they were with me from the beginning and I will never leave them even for a lower interest rate; they are my second home.”

Sameera is very proud of what she has achieved through hard work and dedication: an apartment, a car, a plot of land as well as a good education for her children. Her eldest daughter is at a university studying to become a journalist, and her other daughter is in high school. The two boys are also in school. The four children also help in the family business taking turns assisting their parents running the studios.

Sameera keeps looking at the future and has bigger dreams: she would love to own an event hall for parties where she could provide all the elements that make for a great celebration: the food, the music and of course the best photography services in Amman!

During the Building Women-Focused Finance Conference held in Amman last November, Women’s World Banking staff and network members had the opportunity to visit host organization Microfund for Women’s clients.

Women's World Banking staff and network members posing with Sameera (2nd from right, top row, maroon headscarf)