Jordan’s economy is based on SMEs: this programme is essential
Acrylic and More struggled during COVID-19, and they faced unexpected challenges. Financial grant, customised coaching, and mentoring have helped the company launch its e-commerce website, safeguard its employees, and create new job opportunities.
In March 2020, Dana Hattar was stunned by what her business was exposed to. She had to close her business for nearly six months because of the government measures to fight COVID-19. Like all businesses in the Kingdom, Acrylic and More closed its doors for a while.
“Shops couldn’t keep their doors open; we closed the workshop and the gallery. It seemed counterintuitive. The city’s economy, as a whole, was in a terrible state,” says Dana Hattar, founder of Acrylic and More, which creates acrylic products, such as poster and brochure stands and trays for shop displays.
Acrylic and More, established in 2015 by Dana and her husband, is the first and only professional acrylic store in Jordan. Acrylic products are new to the Jordanian market, but they are in high demand. Because of that, Dana and her husband invested and imported the latest machines to produce acrylic merchandise in different ways locally.
Over the years, they improved their production techniques and created customised designs. As well as commercial products for displaying merchandise and food, and office-related stands for brochures and suggestion boxes, they also now produce homeware products like furniture and accessories. Yet, COVID-19 and its implications changed the shape of businesses.
Good news on the horizon
“In September 2021, the government eased the COVID-19 preventive measures, but all businesses struggled,” Dana says. She began thinking about new ways to recover from the pandemic. They seized the opportunity from SPARK and Manafeth, offered as part of the Economic Resilience through the COVID-19 programme financed by the Qatar Fund for Development.
Meeting customers where they’re at
“The majority of businesses in Jordan start on Instagram right now,” Dana says of the increase she’s seen in online shopping from customers still hesitant to browse the inventory in person. “That sounds a little nuts, but Instagram is so easy to show people stuff,” Dana added.
Dana completed a customised coaching session about digital transformation, marketing and exporting through the programme. Those coaching sessions resulted in a road map to recover and mitigate financial hardship. Based on the road map, Acrylic and More received a financial grant of $5000 that helped them launch their online website to sell their products and meet their customers where they’re at. Additionally, the grant enabled them to hire a marketing officer to support the new shape of trading.
“The special thing about the SPARK opportunity is that we can see its effect today and in the long run in Acrylic and More,” Dana says. “Jordan’s economy is based on small and medium-sized businesses. That’s why this programme is essential. It helped us, and I hope more companies can benefit from it.”