This story is part of our 1,000+ Stories campaign. What’s your story?

Name: Minerva Mazzawi

Business: Philiaفيليا 

Location: Haifa, Palestine

Industry: Education & Training 

Reason for starting? After my M.A graduation in family studies, I realized how important the unit of partnership and family are and how it directly affects our physical and mental health. Also, I was aware of the increasing divorce rates among Arab society in the country and worldwide. The shocking rates (Egypt 60%, Qatar 70%, Lebanon increased by 30%) moved me and made me understand how these rates are affecting us socially, financially and economically. Therefore I decided to pursue my passion through my entrepreneurial drive. In 2013, Philia was born to empower young Arab couples around the world to attain and maintain healthy relationships, starting from before marriage and also helping them choose the right partner for the right reasons! In 2014, I found technology the best modern tool to reach these couples. I joined NaserahTech accelerator, the UK Tech Hub Delegation-London, and the Innovation Generation training Conference in Boston, translating my passion in making the world a better place.

Related: Building a Fashion Business Shaped by Faith and Community

How do you define success? Success is not selfish. Success is sharing. Success is when you share your knowledge, wisdom, achievement and happiness with others, helping to create, at any given moment, a better place to live in and be in. When you do change the world around you for the better (micro or macro), it all goes back at you. It is living a life that makes you feel pleasure more than pain, and passing that pleasure forward to those around me brings more good to them and empowers me to continue.

Biggest success: My biggest success is the increasing number of couples that follow my knowledge, advice and guidance in having happier relationships and happier homes and becoming more aware and conscious partners. Also the increasing number of clients that reach out to me personally for consolation and advice, taking into consideration that is it a conservative community where marriage counseling can be considered taboo.

My goal is to grow my online products — enlarge the online course library and develop more evidenced-based tools, personally created and designed. I want to reach 200 couples from all over the world, registering them for the online Pre-Marital course by the end of 2018. I want to develop Philia’s website and make it the Arab Netflix for couples.

What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Reaching out to Arab couples with a new social idea addressing a sensitive topic was absolutely my top challenge. There is one common blockade in our society, and it is “What do others think about me?” This blockade was holding me back as well, which made me afraid of what others would say about my project and my mission. Would they make fun of me? Would they criticize me? Would they be against it?

But my passion for relationships and marriage, and believing in myself and the change that I can bring to my society and to the world, made me proceed and become successful. What scared me the most turned out to be one of the most wanted subjects among young Arab couples. They are hungry to know about it more and learn more.

My husband and I come from different cultures. I am Arab Palestinian, and he is Polish. We had to learn about our differences and that didn’t always come in the nicest and most pleasant way. Unfortunately, we had to learn our differences and learn how to live with them through difficult times. But this aspect opened my eyes to the importance of having a shared meaning and shared culture that couples create. Differences don’t happen only where there are two different cultures marrying each other. In a way, each person has their own culture within in a bigger culture. Finding shared meaning and creating a unique culture, which covers all members in the family, is one of the most basic qualities for building a solid ground and a solid foundation. Therefore, Philia focuses on that aspect.

Related: The Independent Life – Flora Pringle 

Who is your most important role model? My role model is Oprah Winfrey. As a minority and as a woman who came from a difficult background, she became a truly inspiring woman. Oprah has the ability to feel others’ pain and help those people get through their troubling times. She has reached millions and influenced millions. She is an inspiring woman to me, and I would like to say that she is an inspiring leader, and I would like to be the new Oprah Winfrey in my community.

Twitter   @philiaint
Instagram   @philiaint[/box_light]

Tell us your story!
Read about another entrepreneur here.

Edited by The Story Exchange