You Think You Have Obstacles? This Woman Started A Major Social Network In Saudi Arabia

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Don't come from a background that's usually associated with entrepreneurship? Then this story of a successful female Saudi entrepreneur might be an inspiration. By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)

As a Women 2.0 reader, you probably don't need to be told that all entrepreneurs don't look like Mark Zuckerberg.

Inc.com's recent report on Kauffman Foundation research showing that not only do women start 30% of new businesses, but that the middle-aged actually set up shop most frequently, might not come as a shocker. But even those with an eye on expanding diversity in the startup world, can still be (pleasantly) surprised by the breadth of folks starting up.

Take a recent report from whiteboard magazine, for instance. The article highlights the accomplishments of Rafah Alkhatib, "the founder of 3eesho (pronounce: eyee-shoo), the largest Arabic social network for healthy living. 3eesho reaches more than half a million Facebook fans and more than 6 million Arabic speaking followers across all its social media channels."

The three-year old company "delivers a truckload of page views every day," according to whiteboard, and better yet, Alkhatib is hardly alone in her success:

Rafah, the ambitious founder behind 3eesho, is a female entrepreneur who started her company in Saudi Arabia as one of a growing number of female entrepreneurs in the country. A study from 2012 shows that, ‘in spite of significant challenges, both societal and institutional’, female entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia are founding and managing more small and medium sized companies than at any time in the past, and that the trend is accelerating.

She’s also a seasoned entrepreneur – 3eesho is her second company, and without knowing about any theories like ‘The Lean Startup’, she’s also performed a successful pivot.

Read much more about the pivot and the rest of the 3eesho story on whiteboard.

Women 2.0 readers: Have you come across any interesting founder stories from less often discussed locales?

Image courtesy Flickr user zbigphotography. About the writer: Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @entrylevelrebel.