Maternal instinct nurses a business


Maternal instinct nurses a business
Shifa Yusuffali, CEO of Ideacrate Edutainment Company. She is the youngest daughter of Yusuffali M.A., managing director of LuLu Group.

dubai - Shifa Yusuffali established play centres when she noticed a market gap while trying to keep her toddlers engaged


Sandhya D'Mello

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Published: Sat 12 Aug 2017, 6:29 PM

Last updated: Sat 12 Aug 2017, 8:33 PM

The UAE is the ideal place for women entrepreneurs with a progressive leadership that is driving a diversity strategy to empower and enable women in different fields, says Shifa Yusuffali, CEO of Ideacrate Edutainment Company. She is the youngest daughter of Yusuffali M.A., managing director of LuLu Group, who ranks among the top business personalities in Asia.

Shifa holds a degree in business administration with a focus on marketing and aims to build homegrown brands and concepts through her entrepreneurial journey.

"The country aims to be one of the top nations worldwide in the field of women's empowerment. Factors such as the UAE's membership in UN Women, the global agency for gender equality and empowerment of women, shows the government's interest to make this happen. It is up to us to make the most of these opportunities. The UAE is also one of the safest countries in the world for which we have to thank our visionary leaders," says the mother of two toddlers.

An established entrepreneur, Shifa was already juggling numerous businesses (director at SRS Retail and director at Sands Infrabuild, India) when she noticed a gap in the market for quality facilities and services in 'edutainment'.

While Shifa's interests are varied - from gastronomy to photography and travelling - her experiences as a mother inspired her decision to expand into the education and entertainment market. Being a parent, she was able to relate to her peers who struggled to find indoor activities to keep their children entertained and enriched.

Shifa disrupted this saturated industry by combining traditional business practices with innovation. Thus, she decided to launch Ideacrate Edutainment Company, with its first brand, Orange Wheels, a one-stop educational and entertainment centre for the whole family. It is located on the ground floor of the Al Wahda Mall Extension in Abu Dhabi. This indoor play centre features various fun zones, including climbing walls,arts and crafts area, gym, classrooms and party halls, salon and spa for kids and moms, Café - O serving healthy treats for the whole family and retail space.

When it came to opening her venture, Shifa's priority was to give back to the community of the UAE where she was born and raised. Shifa's eye for aesthetics and creativity can be seen throughout the premises of Orange Wheels as she was personally involved in selecting concepts, designs and colour themes. Her business philosophy is to treat each venture as an extension of her family.

Learning curve
"My journey so far has been a constant learning curve. I realised there was a gap in the market for quality facilities and services in 'edutainment'. This is how the concept of IdeaCrate Edutainment was born and my journey towards entrepreneurship began," said Shifa.

"I wanted to create an environment where we could reintroduce children to traditional play and, in turn, encourage a healthy lifestyle. We first launched Orange Wheels, an indoor activity concept aimed at entertaining and enriching young children, and then Orange Spin, an arcade gaming zone. With careful planning, we created different zones within the centre where children could enjoy a variety of experiences and development triggers."

IdeaCrate Edutainment is planning expansion with four to five projects within the UAE. "We are also analysing various markets and working on a plan to take our brands, Orange Wheels and Orange Spin, across the UAE and other parts of the region. Over the next few years, we plan to create more unique concepts for family entertainment centres and operate nurseries and schools at a regional and global level."

The concept of Orange Wheels was born from Shifa's experience as a mother of two toddlers. Children are left to play with electronic gadgets as a medium of entertainment right from an early age. This lifestyle not only limits their physical activities but also results in them missing out on a major part of development, says the entrepreneur.

"With Orange Wheels, we are trying to bridge this gap. Many parents, like me, are constantly searching for activities, which are both entertaining and educational for our kids that could act as a catalyst in their overall development. I realised there was a huge gap and felt it was a great opportunity to introduce the concept of edutainment in the region."

Shifa advises her peers to look at any successful business today and remember that it wasn't always this successful. The entrepreneurship journey is going to be challenging, especially if you are also a mother. But if you are really passionate about your business idea, then your efforts will pay off, she suggests.

"Not everything works out right at the beginning but you need to keep on trying. It may take some time to even understand what works and what does not, but the most important factor is the determination to succeed. Progress and struggle always come as a package, so I would advise you to keep moving forward no matter what and success will come your way."

Shifa adds that planning is the key to success. "Have a proper plan and you will see things start moving automatically. Proper planning can avert many mistakes. We often tend to submit ourselves to the fear of failure or making some mistake. But, here is the catch. Fearlessness isn't the absence of fear but it is our ability to move forward despite it. Start seeing your mistakes as a learning experience and not a deterrent to your progress," concludes Shifa.


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