By Muhammad Riaz Usman Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As the founder and owner of "iCareinsure", a financial boutique consulting group, Leena Parwani hopes to inspire other women to take charge of their finances. Parwani says, "As I am a working mother, it's important that my income is protected while I am alive. It applies to all women to be financially independent, not only today but tomorrow as well."
Taking the first step is, perhaps, the most difficult thing to do to achieve a dream. But, for Leena Parwani, who always had the vision to own a business, it was the most crucial and necessary step to establish iCareinsure, a financial boutique consultancy.
At 21 years, Leena was on the verge of devastation when doctors in Dubai told her that her three-day-old daughter suffered from Downs Syndrome. It took a while for her to realize that it meant a life-long dependency for the child. But Leena decided to face the challenge head on, unaware of the fact that one day her resolve would make her an inspiration for many entrepreneurs.
Leena, a finance graduate with experience in planning and financial management, utilized her expertise to ensure a secure and prosperous future for her daughter and herself.
While dealing with her own problems, she realized the need for an exclusive financial boutique consultancy which could provide financial planning to affluent families. Leena decided to establish iCareinsure with the motive of offering financial security to families.
"iCareinsure's mission is to reach out to millions of expats, educate them and help build their financial security, especially those who never consider any uncertainties of lives. It helps them to make a wise, effective and cost-efficient decision," Leena, founder and CEO of iCareinsure, said.
"What we do at iCareinsure is different. We intent to create an iCare family environment. All clients are my family. I care and have deep concerns for them. When they trust me, I am automatically more responsible towards their financial well-being," she said.
"While solving my personal worries, I took a deeper interest in life insurance and personally benefited from it after my father passed away in a road accident," she said.
Long-term relationships She said iCareinsure is not involved in a business of selling. "I am more interested in long-term relationships and trust. It's important that my clients feel happy and they see me not as a consultant but as one who cares. Without their happiness, I can't grow my iCare family."
Being a woman entrepreneur, Leena is fond of working with female start-ups. She said women should protect their future income through proper planning.
Leena said: "As I am a working mother, it's important that my income is protected while I am alive. It applies to all women to be financially independent, not only today but tomorrow as well. We help them buy a bit of tomorrow by a little planning today."
Leena recalled that when she started her business, she was working alone along with an associate in Canada. "I used to run around all day, from fixing meetings to making a business plan and maintaining an accounting book," she said.
"Gradually, we expanded our operations. Now, we have a team of five experts in our Dubai office. Our network of associates has grown significantly in various countries. We have a team of experts in Canada and Singapore. We started with servicing well-paid expatriates and business owners. Now, our clientele is diversified -- from those on a moderate income to ultra high-net worth individuals in the UAE, Kenya and Turkey.
"We use interactive technology to create a unique client experience. We use Facebook and LinkedIn to expand our client base and keep them informed about our products and services," she said.
Advice for women, children Leena said her favorite area of advisory is for women and kids. "We are launching road shows to schools to educate kids on the power of savings. Many schools have welcomed our idea as this campaign's motive is to bring behavioral changes in children. Mothers have to take a small step to make a big impact on their kids' future."
Leena said the UAE provides ample opportunities for women and young entrepreneurs to explore their potential and grow. She said start-ups must create a value in their services. She urged entrepreneurs to not fear failure or mistakes.
"Making a mistake and learning from it is important to grow right. So, go make mistakes! Sometimes, you get good people along the way and their intention is to help you avoid mistakes they have done in the past. Do not ignore such help. There is nothing wrong in getting help from a knowledgeable and experienced individual -- they could be your friends, family or even clients," Leena advised.
She avoids clients who don't value her time. "This is a filter process so we can devote more time to those who need us. We value our expertise and time," she concluded.