In spite of the lack of information available about Muslim women business trends, the growing number of Muslimah entrepreneurs is obvious when on the ground and doing business in local communities. Houston alone boasts dozens of Muslimah run enterprises from restaurants and clothing boutiques to home day care centers; and a 2009 study from the Center for Women’s Business Research estimates that women-owned firms in the U.S. have a total economic impact of nearly 3 trillion dollars annually.
Muslim business women are part of a long standing tradition that began in the seventh century with the first wife of the beloved Prophet of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him, the Lady Khadija Khuwaylid, may Allah be pleased with her. Lady Khadija Khuwaylid, may Allah be pleased with her, a wealthy merchant-woman of a prominent tribe, conducted trade by caravan during the middle of the 600’s and she has set a beautiful example that flourishes to this day among Muslim women around the world. In light of the accomplishments achieved by the Lady Khadija, may Allah be pleased with her, it is important to highlight the successes of modern Muslim women whom have also endeavored into the world of entrepreneurialism.
At a time when the political debate rages concerning the rights of Muslim women as a result of the Arab Spring and democratic efforts within predominantly Muslim countries, awareness of the accomplished modern day and historical Muslim businesswomen supports the idea that not only can Muslimah businesses flourish but that they have in the past as well.
Queen Sheba Village Inc. (QSV) and Queen Sheba Cisse exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit of the modern Muslim woman navigating the global economy while juggling work, family and religion. Sister Cisse founded QSV, an online fashion boutique offering African textiles and clothing, Arabian fragrances for the body and senses, and crafted accessories from Africa, in 2005 after a lifelong interest in fashion and in addition to providing clothing and accessories, the QSV fashion boutique raises funds for a micro-credit loan program to assist Senegalese women in the development of sustainable village based businesses that support their families.
Queen Sheba Cisse accepted Islam during her teen-aged years and has said when asked what advice she would like to impart to women who are striving to find their voice, “By The Grace, Will and Mercy of Allah I am here to inspire women. I push forward every day and I am currently writing my life story. For now I am out in the fields!”
Sister Cisse and QSV are out in the community sowing the seeds of good deeds for the benefit of the ummah while providing clothing that is both beautiful and modest. QSV offers a wide assortment of exquisite African garments and products collected on visits and buying trips throughout the African Motherland while offering social services to communities in need. Over the past several years QSV has distributed collections of clothing and supplies for personal, financial and medical use to villagers throughout Senegal and is currently working on their upcoming children’s school supplies drive called Project Education. They have recently completed a Women’s Health and Hygiene Program this past February in Kaolack, Senegal that was designed for improving the health of women and for empowering women towards gender equality.
When asked to provide one aspect of how Allah Ta’aala’s guidance and grace has manifest in her life Sister Cisse responds, “I have been blessed with remarkable women in my life and my roots are a deep part of my willpower and desire to promote empowerment. Al hamdulilah (praise be to God) I began to practice the spiritual adage to “know thyself” and in this expression have been able to aide, help, and inspire others because I deeply feel that we as Allah’s creatures have to have a sense of self and purpose. We may not know all at once, but we are constantly taking baby steps towards understanding ourselves and learning about our Creator Allah Ta’aala. I would like to say I am a rooted individual who respects our parents, our people, and our elders whom are all our ancestors; every human being is globally and intimately connected.”
The Queen Sheba Village Inc. mission is in part one of empowerment for the women of Senegal and the desire to use the development QSV endeavors as a role model for encouraging women to create businesses of their own. Queen Sheba Cisse believes that understanding one’s individual role in history is an important first step towards success, especially as women. Women around the world have struggled to find their voice and to be treated equally in societies where they have been oppressed or legally bound by laws that repress their human rights and have in effect been able to initiate changes that are reforming the present and creating a historical narrative that is just and compassionate.
When asked what Sister Cisse would most like people to understand about QSV and the opportunities that Queen Sheba Village Inc. offers for others she responded:
“I would want and hope that QSV moves people and especially African American women to open and operate businesses of their own. This is mentioned in our QSV Story Chapter 1 in brief on our website. At the moment, I am still learning and gathering information and ideas for discovering my personal quest in the Queen Sheba Village Journey. I have much to share which will be published in my birth name Queen Sheba and will be dedicated to all women; especially to the African American Muslimah. Allah has blessed me with knowing the history of my ancestral roots which I can share and also utilize to motivate others who desire to travel to the continent of Africa. This is an aspect I can appreciate and respect: learning that my people were Muslim before they were brought to the Americas and were worshipping Allah is the Best, Amin!”
On May 1, 2011, Queen Sheba Cisse was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year Award for her support of African women and their communities by the organization Sisters In Spirit based in Atlanta, GA.
QSV hopes to implement projects related to preventing Malaria and a food drive to fight against hunger in the near future.
The QSV signature clothing collection is composed of Malian Bazin and Bazin Riche cloth, crafted by legendary Bamako textile dyers and they also carry Dutch wax prints, some of which feature lace and embroidery, a clothing line in cotton, chiffon, silk, and voile which includes Ethiopian Netala head scarves, flowing Gambian Dockette garments, Mauritanian Malfa cloaks, and Senegalese Bou-Bou gowns as well as Chinese and Japanese silk scarves. Some of our clothing is made by families of tailors in Dakar and in the village of Kaolack.
The Project Education Program is currently accepting donations for children’s book bags, school paper, notebooks, pencils, pens and other educational needs for transport to Touba, Senegal where many children are not able to attend school because their parents cannot afford the costs and school supplies are difficult to attain. For more information and to donate visit: www.queenshebavillage.myevent.com.
They offer a limited selection of children’s garments and traditional garb for men including Talibe Kaftans worn regularly to the Mosque for Friday Jumuah prayers and occasionally carry Moroccan slippers, Senegalese pocketbooks, and 21 karat gold jewelry accessories from United Arab Emirates. Some QSV body products offered are Arabian bukhoor incense, Senegalese and Togolese Republic Shea butters and African and United Arab Emirates essential oils.
Another of QSV’s goal’s is to raise money to help secure a facility where women can learn life skills, health/mental hygiene skills, to provide education services and start-up co-operatives/micro-loans and basic counseling and support.
QSV extends an open invitation to visit their virtual Village and welcomes suggestions for new products. They also have a showroom in the Metro Washington D.C area and in Senegal, Africa. For additional information about Queen Sheba Village and to learn more about Sister Sheba Cisse please visit the links below and be sure to show your support by liking the QSV Facebook page.
The Queen Sheba Virtual Village
Queen Sheba Village Inc. on Facebook
Queen Sheba Village Inc. on Twitter