Jordanian Female Entrepreneur Creates a Heartwarming Legacy
Like only entrepreneurs can, Afnan Ali found her inspiration in an unlikely place.
She observed the unnecessary suffering some of her people endured in Jordan’s winters and thought that there should be a solution. What could provide warmth at a lower cost, save energy, and not rely on oil?
She left Hashemite University with a degree in Electrical Engineering to work for a private company in Amman, but quit after six months to dedicate her time to research and development (R&D) for a personal mobile heater device called TEPLO.
“At the beginning, it was just a heater for anyone who felt cold and need warmth with mobility,” Afnan said, “but after user testing we realized its medical implications; it could reduce the pain associated with some diseases, increase the blood circulation, and minimize abdominal and back pains.”
Afnan overcame many obstacles in developing TEPLO. The first was with the hardware technology, which did not exist in Jordan. “It was not that easy in the region because this was assumed to be a high-risk project,” Afnan said. So she went to Germany and finally to China to outsource its production. The next obstacle she faced was sourcing the investment in the hardware. “We had to apply for prizes and competitions to secure the funds to start R&D,” Afnan said.
But participating in competitions and applying for prizes and grants proved fruitful. The TEPLO device won first place in the Queen Rania National Entrepreneurship Competition in 2008 as well as the Support to Research and Technological Development and Innovation Initiatives and Strategies Project (SRTD) from the European Union in 2009. It was also one of top 10 finalist teams in the Arab Technology Business Plan Competition in 2009, and received the bronze medal in the 3rd International Invention Fair of the Middle East in 2010.
Today, TEPLO is a product in the Jordanian market and just this week secured a deal with a company who will begin the sell and distribute the product. Afnan’s next goal is to acquire a partnership or large investment so they can start mass production and help anyone who may benefit from this device.
“In the end, follow your heart and don’t wait for anyone to encourage or clap for your success; your passion and faith is the best fuel for your dreams and goals.”
Afnan’s time is also channeled into another avenue where she can make a difference. As a result of her experience and passions, she recently started a tech-education project with Bright Kids Academy to teach students robotics, engineering and technology from a young age, in interesting and simple ways.
“The goal is to make them think not just about consuming technology as they do with smart phones and games but instead about producing technology” Afnan said. “We want to help them to innovate, to widen their horizons and think how they can help people in this world through technology.” When they create innovative ideas which can be products, Afnan wants to help them to convert it into a prototype and then into products. “I made a lot of mistakes and wasted time and money because I tried to build my product in the wrong ways,” Afnan said, “My hope is that this project will save their time and money.”
Afnan’s advice to any entrepreneur, current or future:
“[First], listen to everyone around you, think about their point of views and respect it; but in the end, follow your heart and don’t wait for anyone to encourage or clap for your success; your passion and faith is the best fuel for your dreams and goals.”“Whenever I hear that TEPLO reduces pain for someone in my society or changes someone’s lifestyle positively, this makes me happy and I forget all the hardship that have been faced during the “idea to product ” journey,” Afnan said.
Learn more on Wamda.com where Afnan was featured in How 3 Women Entrepreneurs Are Creating Opportunities in Morocco, Egypt and Jordan.