MEET LEILA DANESHVAR IRAN’S FIRST FEMALE MANUFACTURER
Leila Daneshvar is a 37-year-old mechanical engineer in Iran, who runs a manufacturing company called KTMA that specialises in the production of mobility equipment for hospitals and the elderly. As a child, Daneshvar would always sit on the floor of her father’s mechanic workshop and ask for small jobs she could help out with, so it no longer came as a surprise to her family members when she decided to study mechanical engineering at a college in India.
While in school, Daneshvar was the only girl in her year which had 139 students in total but she persevered through the hard times and came out successful.
Her company sells under the brand name ‘Lord‘ and is well-known to produce quality products which attracted Anna Russberg a Swedish Investor to buy 25 percent of the company, bringing much-needed business and capital to it.
Leila has a reputation for quality production, which was practically unknown here. But I needed to turn the business upside-down, It worked. People could tell we were a good mix. We respect each other’s knowledge. She’s the engineer, I’m the businesswoman.” She said
For her, managing a business in Iran has its advantages and disadvantages especially for women. A major problem she faces is her mode of dressing which she complains is not suitable for the business because of its practical nature. In Iran, women are expected to wear hijabs from the ages of 9 and above.
Hijab is difficult when you’re a manufacturer. You have to climb things, go below things. But being a woman has its advantages. Everyone remembers you. People don’t know how to treat us exactly, which is useful in negotiations.
Her business almost came to a halt after U.S President Donald Trump made constant threats and finally reimposed sanctions on Iran. This affected her business especially because production costs had to double up and It soon became hard to import crucial raw materials, particularly stainless steel.
That made me so angry. These sanctions are not on the government, it’s on the people. I can give less to disabled people, to the elderly. Our saying was that we are providing European quality with affordable prices. Can I do that anymore? I don’t know.
Due to this, Daneshvar had to let five of her workers go because of her inability to pay salaries but even at this, she still remains positive about the future of her business as Iran alone has 10 million elderly or injured people who can make use of her product.