Please introduce yourself
Assalamu 'alaykum. My name is Sumaiya Akram; I am based in Goodmayes and have 2 children, aged 2 and 4 years old.
Tell us a bit about your business
I am the Managing Director of Al-Salam Institute, a Centre for Arabic & Islamic studies which is aimed at meeting the Islamic educational needs of Muslim adults. Alhamdulillah, we have been running for 10 years and the endeavour began with our wish to meet the growing needs of Muslim students in Oxford. We are very proud to have produced 16 fully-qualified 'Alim's and 'Alimah's as Al-Salam graduates.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced?
The biggest challenge we have faced is with regards to the the growing levels of competition. During the early phases of establishing the institute competition levels were not so high, but with the growing number of Islamic education institutes, a very positive thing for our community, we have had to work hard to ensure the institute doesn't remain static. This was especially difficult when Al-Salam moved from Oxford to London, which initiated a whole new phase of establishment and growth. With hard work, dedication and thinking ahead we have faced these challenges, alhamdulillah, and we have high hopes for the future.
How do you balance it all? Family and work?
Striking a balance between running a business and maintaining family life is undoubtedly tough. My approach has benefited from learning to prioritise my responsibilities at each given moment, focusing on whichever area of my life needs more care and attention. Employing capable additional staff members and effectively delegating tasks in order to spend more focused time with my family and other responsibilities has also greatly helped.
Have you got any advice for aspiring mumpreneurs?
The best advice I can give is to truly believe in the project you are investing yourself, and your family. It is only with conviction that you will be able to naturally put that extra bit of effort in to carry you through difficult times. Additionally, place confidence and trust in the team around you and strike a balance between doing the work you need to do and delegating tasks to others. It is important to remember that you can always ask for help and that, when most needed, people will always be there.