" Malak and Nour Akkam - Otago Polytechnic

Making their dreams come true!

Malak and Nour Akkam


I want my children to see me succeed so that they have a goal as well to be successful. (Malak)

The two sisters began their year by opening a new children’s clothing retail store, ‘Katakit’ in the heart of Dunedin. But the job was easier said than done. They spent most of the 2020-post-lockdown months planning for their store, coordinating designs, vendors – all the way in Turkey, and budgeting for their business. And they did all that without any foundation in business or entrepreneurship!

Nour and Malak hit many hurdles in their way. Language barriers, time difference, but most difficult of all, dealing with gender stereotypes in the Middle East were some of the challenges that cost them time, effort, and money.

“Especially outside of New Zealand, when people heard us and knew that we are women, they think of us as weak. Starting the business was difficult as we lost a lot of money because the companies in Turkey were dishonest and didn’t provide us documents.” (Malak)

These obstacles didn’t deter the duo because they had their focus set to success. For them, all experiences - good or bad, were learnings.

“We learned a lot. Of course, we started this on our own but we learned and had a good experience. And we think in our future we will learn more from this job and our mistakes, evolve our idea and become more successful with the business.” (Malak)

They credit this success to their family, friends, and Otago Polytechnic staff, who guided them along the way. Today, Nour and Malak stand proudly in their store. After all, they have achieved the first milestone of their journey.

Without any background in business, Malak and Nour, have got the essence of running their store right – be consumer-oriented.

“We asked people what they like and what they are looking for and would prefer. Because everyone has a different style and we want to be able to think like it. We don’t think about the money, we only think about people and what they like, and seek to cover their needs.” (Nour)

What’s most inspiring is their desire to learn and evolve. Something like education, which we often take for granted in our lives, Nour and Malak have sought it as an opportunity to start again and add more to their skillset. And they have just begun!

“I married early and I couldn’t continue my study but when I arrived in Dunedin, I had a good chance to start again. I studied English then and now Accounting. It is challenging as my English is not fluent but I would like to continue. My dream was to run a shop; it was my first dream, and now want to continue studying Accounting. Even when I finish, I want to do more, I don’t want to stop. We want to continue learning because everything is useful for us.” (Malak)

“It is good for us to study and build up our knowledge and qualification for the future and for ourselves.” (Nour)

Malak is not only eyeing success but also wants to inspire her children to dream big.

“I want my children to see me succeed and have a good goal to be successful as well.” (Malak)

Malak and Nour’s story shows us how we can persevere despite the obstacles only if we look at our challenges from a different, positive perspective.



Malak and Nour Akkam