She has changed the life of many. She gave back people their lost self-confidence by offering them a new healthy lifestyle. She is Sawsan Wazzan Jabri, co-owner and general manager of Diet Center. She was the first in the Middle East to launch a catering business of therapeutic nutrition and low fat food. She holds the 51st ranking on Forbes list of 200 most powerful Arab Women for the year of 2014 and she is the winner of the “Business of the Year” award of BLC Bank.
- You are the winner of the “Business of the Year” award. How do you feel about it?
Besides being fulfilled, honored and happy, I feel much more responsible towards my team, my supporters, and my customers.
On a larger scale, I feel authentic towards women, towards our franchisee in the Arab countries, and towards our beloved country Lebanon.
- It took too much effort to succeed. Can you tell us more about the path that led you to success?
It was a long journey with constant ups and downs, bank loans and assistance, not to mention the unsecure economy. However, with a great passion, an everlasting sense of adventure, curiosity and determination, and a good team work that we broke those barriers and walked towards success.
- What would be the advice you would give to any woman who still does not dare to start her own business?
I would tell her a secret: Passion… you have to feel in love with what you do.
After that you focus on making your business a success, throughout consultancy, the team you hire, coworkers, associates and much more…
Benefit from the experience of others, read biographies and join businesswomen association where mentors and mentees meet, to discuss and inspire your next move.
- How are you going to celebrate your success? Moreover, did you have any project in mind for the prize you won?
We are planning to launch a new dietetic program; the prize will surely facilitate and accelerate the execution.
- How did you start with “Diet Center”?
The “Nutrition and Diet Center” opened in 1990; it was the first weight management and nutrition therapy clinic in Lebanon. We had to induce the words “low fat” and “low calories” in the Lebanese society and later on in the Arabian minds.
- What kind of services you offer at Diet Center?
The “Nutrition and Diet Center” Offers nutritional consultations and food programs. The division consists of:
- Clinics where we provide tailor made programs (pregnancy, lactation, hypertension…)
- Production kitchen : diet and healthy food products
- Retail shops
- Catering services: a new brand “Tickles” by diet center was introduced. It is about healthy catering for events, workshops, special occasions, gatherings.
- Education programs for students and cooking classes for mothers at schools.
- Media: reality shows, TV programs, radio talk show.
- What differentiates you from other diet centers? Why should one choose “Diet Center”?
We have tasty food, we are selective with our products, we choose always the best row materials, we follow up our clients, we have tailor made programs, we are up to date towards the new studies, and we have our own department for research and study.
- What were/are the challenges you faced/are facing?
We faced lots of challenges and barriers, some were totally resolved and others are being restored every now and then.
- No business background for owners: both owners came from a scientific domain
- Starting the entrepreneurship from scratch without a capital
- Insecure economy
- Logistical and financial burdens.
As the years went by, the political difficulties multiplied and a wave of competitors has emerged, copying our concept and fighting illegally to survive.
- What are your future projects?
Our studies are made to establish a franchise in new countries in the MENA, and Europe.
The aim is to introduce new ventures under the title of managing good health.
- Who is Sawsan Wazzan Jabri?
Sawsan Wazzan Jabri is a businesswoman, a mother of four lovely kids, a housewife and a good friend.
- Sawsan Wazzan Jabri is better described as a mother than a business woman?
I am a mother in my house and a business woman at work. I try my best not to combine both duties, however at some points my motherhood reigns.