By Pirah Aijaz
A resident of The Kingdom of Saudia Arabia (KSA), Maha Ejaz is an inspiring figure for many, not just in Saudi Arabia, but also in Pakistan. As can be seen by the Facebook Community Group she created, "Talaash", she has helped thousands of women around the world.
Through Talaash, women have the opportunity to showcase their talents and earn passive income by working from home – selling digital services.
Maha's initiative focuses on helping and empowering women through their skills. Her Community promotes values like religious tolerance, diversity and inclusion.
We at Fempreneur approached Maha to hear more from her about her life’s struggle, initiatives, and milestones she has achieved so far.
So, let’s meet her!
Tell us about yourself and your academic background.
Basically, I’m from Pakistan, but live in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Growing up, I was quite a shy kid but my mother and Mentor both were very active in shaping me into the person I am today. They helped me break out of my shell and am grateful for that. I am the eldest among 4 sisters and have always been the one pursuing my passions.
I had an interest in Computer Sciences, so did my Masters in that. In school I used to participate in sports and won several awards in various outdoor games. I was awarded with Best Player of the year 2005 at my school (PISR) along with Most Cooperative Girl of the year. I believe that my involvement in sports helped me develop leadership skills and a strong sense of sportsmanship. These qualities have served me well in my professional career. Also, event management was something I enjoyed and did as a side hustle during my Masters.
You are a resident of Saudi Arabia, have you ever faced work challenges and barriers to career advancement?
Being an Expat female living in KSA, has it’s fair share of challenges. Here the government policy is beneficial for their native people mostly, which is fair. Countries, should definitely promote the local population first. However, it doesn’t make things easier for the very a smaller number of Expat Women working in offices. For us the opportunities are better in teaching and the Medical field.
You are a founder of Talaash (a community of talented women across the globe). We would like to know more about Talaash.
Talaash is very close to my heart, because, it is something I always wanted to do. Talaash is a community with a vision of creating a space for women and youth to come and discover their hidden talents, facilitating them to actively pursue their passion.
We believe in being Productive, Constructive, and Creative. Talaash believes in learning from others’ experiences and knowledge. It’s always my priority to bring those forward in our group, who may need a platform to start their journey. Though we are growing everyday in numbers we believe in quality and a result-oriented Community, rather than just making it the largest group with no benefits to its members.
Additionally, our platform conducts various mental health related awareness sessions for coping with depression and anxiety. When Covid hit we launched Talaash Learning Portal, a website, which offers boundless opportunities for women across the globe. Through it, they can teach their skill-based online courses. Currently, we are working on bringing e-commerce opportunities for our Women. Meanwhile, we hold discussions as well as online live classes on the group, focused on earning online from home. We aspire to work on many other ideas in future.
What is the main motto of Talaash?
It is to “Help Each Other & Grow”. I always feel that women talk about empowering other women but unfortunately, it’s mostly talk and their actions suggest the opposite. So, we emphasize on our vision to create a difference. I have numerous examples in my group, where appreciation and encouragement, made a huge positive impact. Support is not only physical but also emotional and mental.
You worked on a mental health awareness campaign, what did you learn while delivering the awareness sessions?
I learned that every woman wants a mentally healthy and emotionally stable life. While delivering the sessions, I got to know that many women are living in abusive relationships, which are not physically but mentally and emotionally abusive. What they need is an ear, that listens and a heart that understands them. As our commitment to this cause, we are working with our sister group “Hope Revival” which is supporting us in this regard.
You are working as a virtual assistant. Can you please tell us the scope of this field for women?
Working virtually from the comfort of your home is the future, though I use to work online before Covid, but the last 3 years, has obviously seen a rise in remote working. Virtual Assistance is a service, through which you can do, many things. I am working as a Social Media Manager for a company in Singapore, as a full-time Virtual Assistant, earning a good amount in PKR and I believe computer literate people can work as Virtual Assistants.
Among all the niches you work in, which one feeds your soul?
I enjoy working. But the thing I love doing the most is, listening to and counseling people. They can talk to me on relationships, discuss business ideas, ask tech-related issues and so on. So, counseling and mentoring are something that I always do for peace of mind.
Women Entrepreneurship is now a growing economic segment in Saudi Arabia. What do you think about it?
Yes, women entrepreneurship is growing, in KSA. Although from my last 20-years of experience, I feel Saudi women were always, active on this front. So while, it wasn’t a new thing for them, now the policies are changing to facilitate them even further. Mohammad Bin Salman is keen to create more opportunities for Saudi Women. And I believe the rise of social media platforms have helped women entrepreneurs connect with each other and share resources.
There are still extremely restrictive laws regarding what women can and cannot do in this country. How can women in Saudi Arabia find a rewarding career or business?
I think these are all, old stories now. Saudi Arabia has changed. Now, women are allowed to travel alone, drive, work at workplaces, and what not. Still, the government is working on more initiatives to help and support their residents.
Who would you like to thank, for your success?
I would like to credit my mother who was my strong support system. She helped and encouraged me to pursue my dreams and become the woman, I am today.