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Winrock International

NowaraCo: A Grandmother’s Legacy Empowers Young Refugees

In 2019 the Arkansas Women’s Business Center at Winrock International piloted Momentum, a first-of-its-kind business accelerator targeting minority women in Arkansas. Momentum provided 10 minority woman-owned businesses with professional development training, mentorship and $500 in seed funding for business development. The five-week accelerator led to the launch and expansion of 10 new minority woman-owned businesses in Arkansas.

Nora Bouzihay’s late grandmother used to call her “Nowara,” which means flower in Arabic. When her grandmother passed away, Bouzihay, a doctoral student in education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, began looking for a way to pass her grandmother’s inspirational spirit onto others by empowering young women. The Jonesboro native eventually settled on a hijab and scarf company, called NowaraCo, which for every three scarves sold donates one to a refugee overseas. Today, its scarves have been sold in countries from Canada and Germany to Abu Dhabi.

Nora received hands-on business training from the Arkansas Women’s Business Center through Momentum, and used the $500 in technical assistance she received to formalize her business. The technical funds helped her acquire a business license in Craighead county, obtain legal counsel and get assistance with branding and marketing.

“Momentum gave me hope, helped me develop a clear vision, define the importance of NowaraCo, and gave me a network of women mentors,” Nora said. “They gave us hands-on teaching on how to be a business owner. We learned how to manage our finances, how to write business plans, how to use marketing tools, and how to pitch our business to investors. Being a part of Momentum is an honor that was not expected. I am very humbled and thankful to be a part of it. It’s been a great experience.”

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Arkansas Women’s Business Center

AWBC is committed to providing technical assistance, training, and access to capital services tailored to meet the needs of women business owners. The Center is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. It is in a network of over 100 Centers located through the nation. Winrock’s staff and team of […]