One mom created her own company so kids can learn Arabic

Rama Kayyali is co-founder of Little Thinking Minds, a children’s education company that creates engaging digital Arabic literacy tools to improve language acquisition, fluency and literacy — supplementing classroom learning.

Women entrepreneurs like Kayyali will take center stage at the November 28–30 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, India, which will draw 1,500 budding entrepreneurs, angel investors, and business and government leaders.

Kayyali recently spoke about starting a business.

Woman speaking in front of a classroom (USAID)

How did you come up with your innovation, and how did you turn it into a business?

My partner, Lamia, and I were frustrated with the lack of engaging Arabic educational content for our young sons. We set up a company called Little Thinking Minds, and the very simple videos we produced — some filmed in our backyards with our kids and their friends — became very popular. We then moved to app production, and now we create Arabic digital literacy and numeracy solutions for primary school children in both the public and private sectors.

What struggles have you faced as a female entrepreneur?

At first, our biggest struggle was our lack of experience when it came to running a business. We then joined an incubator in Amman, Jordan, where we underwent boot camp training and countless mentorship sessions that were extremely helpful. Of course, trying and failing again and again also developed our business skills and taught us many lessons — from revisiting our business model to pivoting our direction to building the right team.

What’s been the most gratifying part of this work for you personally?

Seeing students totally engaged in reading while using our literacy app, smiling, reading aloud, feeling proud of their improvements and confident in their classrooms.

A longer version of this story appeared on the U.S. Agency for International Development website as part of a series for leading up to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.