By: Laura Steiner
A buzz of voices, and array of smells greeted visitors to the Muslim Womenpreneurs show. The third annual event was held at Milton’s Teatro Conference Centre March 8, and 9. It was a festive mood as people made their way through vendor tables in a grand ballroom.
Vendors displayed everything from cosmetics, and traditional dresses to teas, and a wide variety of services.It was an exercise in building community, and meeting new people according to Riad Ouarzazi. “It’s something that gets us to come and meet one another, introduce our businesses to one another,” he said. It was family oriented, with a magic show performed by Tyler Fergus, and a clown giving out balloon animals. Admission was by voluntary donation to the Milton District Hospital Foundation (M.D.H.F.), with donations at the door being matched by vendors. They raised a total of $450.
It was about breaking stereotypes associated with Muslim women. Ouarzazi admitted that there’s a myth out there that Muslim women shouldn’t go out. They shouldn’t own their own business. He calls that untrue, pointing the example shown by the Prophet Muhammad. “She was a businesswoman. She was an entrepreneur. He used to work for his own wife.” It’s one of the lesser known stories in Islam.
He feels that kind of support should be provided to everybody. “Have your dream, and follow-up on those dreams,” he said. Ouarzazi is married to organizer Ibtissam Sebbahi. They are living what he speaks about. He admitted early on in the interview he was there to support her. “She’s the boss,” he described her.
The show was smaller than the 2016 version. Organizer Ibtissam Sebbahi says it has reached out to a wider audience. “It’s become more inclusive. Everybody more than our Muslim community. If you see here, there’s a lot of different nationalities. It’s not just Muslims, it’s everybody,” she said. That was evident in the crowd, and the merchants. “More, and more I’m seeing the Milton business show become inclusive of all of the diversity that is in Milton,” she said. That’s something of which we can all be proud. To learn more about the group visit their website: www.muslimwomepreneurs.ca