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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 7 Oct 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Non-Muslim Women Offer Flowers in Show of Solidarity with Canberra's Islamic Community

New Age Islam News Bureau

7 Oct 2014

Floral wishes: Eliza Spencer, Kathryn Arnold, Fron Garrett, Bec Bull, Annabelle Lee, Radia Fattah, Hannah Dungan, Kirrily Burnett, Talitha Wilson, Gemma White and Tegan Howarth outside the AIS at Bruce on Saturday. Photo: Annabelle Lee


 Muslim Women From Verbally Attacked While Driving In Newcastle

 Sydney Strangers Rush To Help Young Muslim Woman and Boy Being Harassed

 Woman Who Defected From the Islamic State Says She Was Duped

 Female Kurdish Suicide Bomber 'Kills Dozens of IS Militants' in Kobani

 Yasmine Raees Wins Best Actress Award at Malmo Festival

 Disenfranchising Women in Pakistan: ECP Proposes Law against Covert Election Deals

 Women Sold As Sex Slaves in Iraq and Syria by ISIS Slavers

 Iraqi Yazidi Woman Awarded Anna Politkovskaya Prize

 British-Iranian Woman Jailed For Watching Male Sport on Hunger Strike

 Study: Breast Milk Could Pose Danger for Tunisian Babies

 Forbes ME names Rasha Al Dhanhani among 200 Most Powerful Arab Women

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Non-Muslim Women Offer Flowers in Show of Solidarity with Canberra's Islamic Community

7 October 2014

Ten non-Muslim women, wearing Hijabs and carrying flowers, have touched Canberra's Islamic community with their simple message of love and solidarity.

After a week of heightened anti-Islamic rhetoric in Canberra, where numerous politicians discussed banning the Burqa, 10 women armed only with flowers attended an ACT Islamic festival to show support for their fellow Canberrans.

At three locations across Canberra on Saturday the Islamic community celebrated Eid al-Adha, or the festival of the sacrifice, which involves prayers followed by family events and feasting.

As worshippers left the Morning Prayer at the AIS Stadium in Bruce they were met by the women, who offered flowers to the women and children in attendance.

Twenty-six-year-old Canberran Annabelle Lee, who helped organise the show of support, said although reactions from Islamic worshippers were originally cautious, they soon turned joyous.

"We told them we were sorry you've been treated so badly in the media and we wanted to say we stand with you in solidarity and we want to share love instead of hate," she said.

With love: Rebecca Bull, Kirrily Burnett, Eliza Spencer, Annabelle Lee, Gemma White and Hannah Dungan wore Hijabs and gave out flowers at a Islamic service on weekend at a Muslim service.

"And when they heard that, many of them wanted to give us a hug, many smiled and some were brought to tears."

She said they gave a flower to every woman and child present, while some men asked if they could take flowers for their wives at home.

Islamic Society of Belconnen vice-president Hassan Warsi said men and women from Canberra's Islamic community were touched by the women's gesture.

"They had people coming forward and putting a [hand] on their shoulder, saying 'Look, we're here with you. We know you guys are good people like us and we are all in a community, caring and sharing and it should be an exception," he said.

"It was obviously a very good feeling and people were touched by that."

Another Canberra worshipper, who did not want to be named, said everyone had appreciated what Ms Lee and her friends had done, adding it had left them "joyful".

"It was a very unique approach to the Muslims in every way, to show harmony and to show their respect. If there's a team Australia, they want us included as well," he said.

Ms Lee said she and her friends came up with the idea when they were having a conversation with their friend Radia, who is a practicising Muslim.

"She told us how she hadn't been attacked personally but she felt very self-conscious at the moment. When she went to the shops nobody would talk to her and she didn't feel very safe at that time," she said.

"So we [thought] what can we do in this situation as a positive thing rather than doing nothing and keep having these women feel like they're being judged?"

Mr Warsi said he hadn't noticed any change in community attitudes to him or his family in Canberra since the recent announcement of Australia sending planes to help in the fight against Islamic State .

He said Canberra was a very accepting community.

"I can say I've lived here for a long time and Canberra is a lot more accepting than many."



Muslim Women From Verbally Attacked While Driving In Newcastle

By Lucy McNally

7 Oct 2014

Two Muslim women have been left shaken after they were verbally attacked about their religion while driving through Newcastle.

A 26-year-old woman was driving with her mother in the front passenger seat when they stopped in traffic on Smith Street about 7:00pm (AEST) on Monday.

A 27-year-old man approached them on foot and started abusing and threatening them, police said.

"He's made derogatory statements about their religion," Chief Inspector Dean Olsen said.

"He struck the side view mirror and then continued with a verbal tirade."

The women drove off but pulled over a short distance away to fix the car's mirror.

The man followed them and continued the abuse.

"It was at this time that several members of the public got involved and tried to stop this man doing what he's doing," Chief Inspector Olsen said.

"He's turned on them and made a few threats and assaulted at least one of those people."

A man who went to the aid of the women was punched, but not badly hurt.

Chief Inspector Olsen said the man stole mobile phones from two of the people who intervened before running off.

"He was apprehended by the members of the public and they retrieved their property, but he fled the scene again," he said.

"A short time later police arrived and effected the arrest."

The man has been charged with two counts of intimidation, two counts of larceny, one count of assault and one count of malicious damage.

He spent the night in police custody and will face Newcastle Local Court today.

Chief Inspector Olsen said the woman and her mother have been left shaken by the attack.

"The two ladies in the car were quite shaken by what occurred but they did not come to any physical harm," he said.

He has praised the actions of the witnesses who intervened.

"Certainly from a policing perspective I’m quite comforted by the fact that our society is such a good one that people will intervene and stop people from being interfered with in this way," he said.



Sydney Strangers Rush To Help Young Muslim Woman and Boy Being Harassed

7 October 2014

The young Muslim woman stands in shock as she is told she looks like a terrorist in the heart of Sydney's CBD – but it's what happens next that most shocked the man who orchestrated the nasty abuse.

In seconds, a group of schoolgirls run towards the Hijab-wearing woman, but before they can reach her another group of girls grab her by the arm and whisk her away from the putrid attack.

And when there weren't girls to defend the Muslim woman, dozens of other onlookers stridently defended her against the acting bigot who was set up in a social experiment to test the reaction by random Australians to Islamic abuse.

The results have stunned thousands and spread quickly around the world showing Australia as a role model for tolerance.

At one stage in the four-and-a-half-minute video, a mother walking with her family approaches as a Muslim boy is being abused and angrily tells the bigot to leave the child alone.

"Don't you dare speak to people like that. How dare you? These people belong here too, as much as we do. Alright? If you don't like it, go live somewhere else," the mother says.

Her reaction almost made the video's director Kamal Saleh cry.

"This video is hard proof that the Australian public do not welcome hate against Muslims. Yes it does occur but it is clearly not welcome," Mr Saleh said.

The media and law student at Macquarie University told ninemsn he expected most witnesses to ignore the Muslim woman and boy who participated in the experiment.

"We did not expect every single person that witnessed the attack to intervene," he said.

"It was an overwhelming response. It reaffirmed our view of humanity."

The footage was shot at Hyde Park last Thursday between 2pm and 5pm.

The video has had more than 350,000 views since being uploaded online, and Mr Saleh said he had received praise from around the world.

He said journalists in Turkey were inspired by the level of tolerance of Australians, and people in Germany wanted to broadcast the video as an example of acceptance.

Mr Saleh said the debate in recent weeks around the attire of Muslim women inspired him to do the social experiment to test if anti-Islamic views were widespread.

"I'm optimistic for the future of Australia," he said.

"I hope these people will be role models, not only for Australians but for the rest of the world.

"Definitely there are those incidences ... when we find a rare bigoted individual. But as Muslims we always have to keep our head up and whatever challenge is brought to us we know we have the tools to counter that."



Woman who defected from the Islamic State says she was duped

7 October 2014

A 25-year-old woman who joined the Islamic State during the Syrian uprising says she became disillusioned by the militant group's brutality and defected.

The woman, who calls herself Khadija, told CNN she grew up in Syria and was teaching elementary school when she began attending peaceful protests against President Bashar Assad.

But when the uprising unraveled into violence, she was lured to join the extremist group by a Tunisian man she met online. The man assured her the Islamic State was not a terrorist organization, but that the war necessitated violence.

"Everything around us was chaos," she said. "The regime, barrel bombs, strikes, the wounded, clinics, blood — you want to tear yourself away, to find something to run to. My problem was I ran away to something uglier.

"He would say, 'We are going to properly implement Islam. Right now we are in a state of war, a phase where we need to control the country, so we have to be harsh.'"

The woman's cousin was living in Raqqa with her husband — himself a member of the Islamic State — and invited her to join the al-Khansa brigade, an all-female police force that enforces the extremist group's rules for women.

"At the start, I was happy with my job. I felt that I had authority in the streets," she said. "But then I started to get scared, scared of my situation. I even started to be afraid of myself."

It was with al-Khansa that she witnessed the group's extreme violence firsthand, including a beheading.

"The worst thing I saw was a man getting his head hacked off in front of me," she said.

When her commander began pressuring her to marry him, her fear boiled over.

"The foreign fighters are very brutal with women, even the ones they marry," she said. "There were cases where the wife had to be taken to the emergency ward because of the violence, the sexual violence.

"So it was at this point, I said enough. After all that I had already seen and all the times I stayed silent, telling myself, 'We're at war, then it will all be rectified.'"

Khadija says she left the group last month — days before the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes began — and was smuggled across the border to Turkey, where her interview with CNN was conducted.

She's speaking out now, she says, because she wants to prevent women like her from joining the Islamic State militant group.

"I don't want anyone else to be duped by them," she said.



Female Kurdish Suicide Bomber 'Kills Dozens of IS Militants' in Kobani

7 October 2014

The Kurdish forces in the Isis-besieged the town of Kobani have confirmed that a woman suicide bomber, named as Arin Mirkan, killed dozens of jihadists in the town's eastern position by blowing herself up.

The attack, first reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, allowed the Kurdish forces to strike back at Sunni Islamists pounding the town on three sides with tanks and mortar fires.

The battle for Kobani is seen as a key step to stopping the advance of the Isis (now known as Islamic State) militants, who are less than one mile from the town after seizing part of the strategic Mishtenur Hill which overlooks the territory.

Idris Nahsen, a local Kobani official, said that US-led air strikes alone were not sufficient to stop Islamic State (IS) forces.

The Kurdish YPG or People's Defence Units, reported that 15 of its fighters died in action while battling IS.

"Of our martyrs was valiant comrade Arin [Mirkan], she was able to perform a fedai action [self-immolation] and kill dozens of Isis mercenaries and stop their advance, such strong will and determination shown by comrade Arin will be the spirit of resistance in the hearts of all of our combatants of the People's Defence Units and Women's Defence Units," a YPG statement said.

"If needed, all of our fighters will be comrade Arin and shall not allow the mercenaries reach their wishes at whatever cost."

The Syrian observatory noted that seven new US-led coalition strikes against Isis were conducted in the Kobani area. It reported that at least 33 Isis fighters and 23 of the town's Kurdish defenders were killed.



Yasmine Raees Wins Best Actress Award at Malmo Festival

7 October 2014

Released in March 2014, Factory Girl by Egyptian director Mohamed Khan is a feature movie about a young woman in a textile factory (Yasmeen El-Raees) who falls in love with her manager, Salah (Hany Adel).

The film has been screened during the fourth Malmo Arab Film Festival which took place between 26 and 30 September and brought El-Raees the Best Actress Award.

Factory Girl, the third collaboration between Khan and scriptwriter Wissam Soliman, deals with interweaving themes and triggers paradoxical emotions. It is about the “rosy” dreams that make life possible, but that are also often crushed by a classist, patriarchal and judgmental society.

Most recently, the committee formed from members of the Egypt Cinema Syndicate has chosen Mohamed Khan's Factory Girl to be the official entry for the Oscar's Best Foreign Language Film 2015, according to the movie's fan page.

During the Malmo festival, Egypt was represented by three movies: Factory Girl, Ayten Amin's Villa 69 and social drama, The Ferry (Al-Me'adiya), directed by Attia Amin.

Features from other Arab countries include Ladder to Damascus by renowned Syrian director Mohamed Malas, Hany Abu-Assad's Palestinian drama, Omar which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2014 Academy Awards and Adios Carmen, a UAE drama directed by Mohamed Amin Benamraoui, among other entries.



Disenfranchising Women in Pakistan: ECP Proposes Law against Covert Election Deals

7 October 2014

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to clamp down on the practice of cutting covert deals and convening Jirgas to disenfranchise women, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has sought legal powers to annul polls in any constituency where women are barred from voting.

In its new set of proposed laws – tagged as unified election laws – submitted with the parliamentary committee on electoral reforms, the ECP suggested the parliament enhance the scope of legal provisions pertaining to ‘undue influence on elections’ to include such covert deals. The proposed legislation will empower the ECP to cancel poll results in any constituency – either partially or completely – after a summary trial.

“If, from facts apparent on the face of the record and after such summary inquiry as it may deem necessary, the [Election] Commission is satisfied that by reason of grave illegalities or violation of the provisions of this Act or the rules; or that an agreement … has been entered into restraining women from exercising their right to vote, the poll in that constituency ought to be declared void as a whole or a part thereof … [and the ECP may] call upon the electors of that constituency to elect a member of the assembly in the manner provided  for in Section 87 or… order re-poll at the polling station or polling stations of the area of which the election has been declared void,” reads the text of relevant provision in the proposed new set of laws.

The ECP has also proposed criminal cases against any individuals involved in any deal to disenfranchise women during elections. “The Commission may order filing of complaint… before a court of competent jurisdiction against persons who entered into such agreement,” the proposed amendment reads.

Several proposals to curb incidents of women being barred from voting – either because of a covert deal among local politicians and contesting candidates or because of a decision by a tribal Jirga – have been considered over the years.

One early proposal recommended a re-poll in any constituency where the number of votes cast by women was found to be less than 10% of the area’s population. This proposal was rejected by a similar parliamentary panel during the Pakistan People Party government.

The recent proposals, although vague and harder to adjudicate compared to the one put forward under the PPP government, can still serve as a deterrent against gross violation of women’s basic rights. It is not clear yet if the parliamentary committee will accept the new proposal. Once it completes its work, it will present the draft to parliament for final approval.

The committee, which was set up after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s wrote a letter to National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq in June this year, started work on August 6.

It was supposed to complete its task within three months, but after the passage of nearly two months, it is still at the initial stages of its work. The panel is unlikely to complete its task within the given timeframe.



Women sold as sex slaves in Iraq and Syria by ISIS slavers

7 October 2014

In undoubtedly the most atrocious display of human rights abuses, ISIS extremists have created slave markets in Mosul, Iraq and in Syria. Hundreds of Christian and Yazidi women and children have been herded to these markets and either given to ISIS fighters as "rewards," or sold for as little as $10 as sex slaves.

The slave markets in the al-Quds area of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria are being used to recruit new fighters to the extremist group, according to the UN report. The report is based on interviews with over 450 interviews with Iraqi witnesses and surviving victims to the alleged war crimes.

According to the 29-page report, “Women and girls are brought with price tags for the buyers to choose and negotiate the sale. The buyers were said to be mostly youth from the local communities. Apparently ISIL was ‘selling’ these Yezidi women to the youth as a means of inducing them to join their ranks.”

Militants killed a female candidate running for a local office back in July, and has ordered married female doctors in hospitals to wear black. Unmarried females are ordered to wear other colors to distinguish them from the married doctors. The UN estimates almost 9,000 Iraqi civilians have lost their lives this year in the conflict, and 1.5 million have been displaced.

In Raqqa, an ISIS stronghold in Syria, over 3,000 Yazidi women and girls are kept locked-up in brothels patrolled by an all female religious police force, known as the al-Khanssaa Brigade. The leaders of this battalion are said to be female British jihadists. A source told the IBTimes, "It is the British women who have risen to the top of the Islamic State's sharia police and now they are in charge of this operation."

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein is the UN’s human rights chief, and the first Arab and Muslim to hold this post. He cited a letter sent by 126 Muslim scholars to the head of the Islamic State on Sept. 19. In the letter, the scholars emphasize that the acts being perpetrated by the Islamic State against Christians, Yazidis and others, including the mass murders and beheadings of journalists and aid workers is not endorsed or permitted by Islam.

"It clearly states that in Islam it is forbidden to kill the innocent, or to kill emissaries, ambassadors and diplomats -- hence also journalists and aid workers; torture and the re-introduction of slavery are also forbidden, as are forcible conversion, the denial of rights to women and a multitude of other acts being carried out by this Takfiri group on a daily basis," said Zeid.



Iraqi Yazidi woman awarded Anna Politkovskaya prize

7 October 2014

 Iraqi legislator Vian Dakhil on Monday received the Anna Politkovskaya prize for her denunciation of the jihadist group Islamic State over its brutal treatment of Yazidi women.

The award – handed out by London-based organisation RAW in WAR to honour women working to help those trapped in conflict – is named after crusading Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya who was gunned down in Moscow on October 7, 2006.

Vian Dakhil has given "a voice to the many Yazidi and Iraqi women and girls whose voices cannot be heard," the organisation said in a statement.

Dakhil, the only Yazidi legislator in Iraq, welcomed the award but called for greater attention to be given to the plight of the Yazidi minority in the face of the onslaught by the Sunni militants from the Islamic State (IS) group.

"It is a pleasure for anyone to be honoured with an award, but it is rare to see a Yazidi person who can feel happy from the bottom of their heart due to the fact that our girls, women and children are in captivity as hostages of the most dangerous organisation in the world," she wrote in an acceptance speech.

Yazidi women kidnapped by IS jihadists in Iraq have been taken to Syria, forced to convert and sold into marriage to militants, rights groups say.

In August, IS captured Yazidi villages in the area of Mount Sinjar, prompting an exodus of the minority amid reports of executions and the abduction of women.

Last year's Anna Politkovskaya prize was given to teenage Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for insisting on the right of girls to get an education.

A reporter at liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta, who had been a fierce critic of the Kremlin's tactics in Russia's Chechnya region, Politkovskaya was gunned down at age 48 in the lobby of her Moscow apartment block.

A Russian court in June jailed five men for their roles in her murder, but those who ordered her killing have never been identified.



British-Iranian woman jailed for watching male sport on hunger strike

7 October 2014

A British-Iranian woman imprisoned in Tehran after trying to attend a men's volleyball match has gone on hunger strike to mark her 100 days in custody, her mother said.

Ghoncheh Ghavami was arrested on June 20 near the Azadi ("Freedom" in Persian) stadium in the capital, where the national volleyball team was due to play Italy in a World League game.

She was released within hours but then rearrested a few days later. Iranian officials have since said that Ghavami, from London, was detained for security reasons unrelated to the volleyball match but no charges have been formally stated.

However, the 25-year-old, a law graduate, has decided to stop eating as a protest, her mother said in an emotive Facebook post late Sunday, which outlined fears for her daughter's health.

"Yesterday, I finally saw my Ghoncheh. She said she's been on a hunger strike since Wednesday. God, I can't breathe," Susan Moshtaghian wrote.

"She said that she's fed up with this 100 day uncertainty ... I will not touch food either until the day that my Ghoncheh will break her hunger strike."

Ghoncheh's relatives have campaigned for her release on social media and have raised the case with Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The "Free Ghonche Ghavami" Facebook page features photographs of her against the slogan: "Jailed for wanting to watch a volleyball match."

"It's been a while that she has no more interrogations but her detention has not ended," Moshtaghian wrote.

"God, you've been my witness, I have remained silent for 82 days so that my innocent daughter returns home.

"She hasn't returned and now her life and health is in danger. I will no longer sit silently. God end this nightmare; give me strength to save the piece (sic) of my heart."

In Sunday's Facebook update, Ghavami's mother said there had been attempts to dismiss her daughter's lawyer, Alizadeh Tabatabaie, and to get her to accept new charges relating to her case.

Tabatabaie told AFP on Monday that he was barred from speaking to the foreign press.

Ghavami's arrest came after female fans and even women journalists were told they would not be allowed to attend the volleyball match.

National police chief General Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam said it was "not yet in the public interest" for men and women to attend such events together. "The police are applying the law," he said.

Women are also banned from attending football matches in Iran, with officials saying this is to protect them from lewd behavior among male fans.



Study: breast milk could pose danger for Tunisian babies

7 October 2014

Breast milk is widely accepted as the healthiest form of nutrition for infants, but for Tunisian babies the mother’s milk could pose a serious danger.

A recent study published on Environmental Research journal found “widespread and elevated contamination” of women’s breast milk in Tunisia with banned chemicals, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), organochlorine (OC) pesticides.

The concentrations of these chemicals were found in 237 human breast milk samples collected from 12 locations in the North African country.

“Concentrations of DDTs in human breast milk from rural areas were significantly higher than those from urban locations,” according to the study. High dairy and meat intake was cited as one of the reasons behind the high level of contamination in breast milk taken from rural women.

The Stockholm Convention on POP, which seeks to eliminate the pollutants by restraining their production, use and sale. The Global Environment Facility has given the country $16.7 million to help eliminate the chemical compounds by 2017.

The Stockholm Convention currently focuses on 12 POPs of immediate concern — often referred to as “the dirty dozen”— pesticides, industrial chemicals, and unintentional byproducts, according to a report by the Global Environment Facility.

The pesticides are aldrin, chlordane, DDT, diel-drin, endrin, heptachlor, hexachlorobenzene (HCB), mirex, and toxaphene; the industrial chemicals are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and HCB (also mentioned under “pesticides”); and the unintentional byproducts are dioxin and furans (as well as PCBs and HCB). Unintentional chemical byproducts result from combustion and industrial processes and are among the most potent cancer-causing chemicals known.



Forbes ME names Rasha Al Dhanhani among 200 Most Powerful Arab Women

7 October 2014

UAE’s Rasha Al Dhanhani, known to many as the mastermind behind Pappa Roti Café, has been named one of the 200 Most Powerful Women in the Arab World for 2014 by Forbes magazine. The glitzy honoring ceremony was attended by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister for Culture, Youth and Community Development and took place on Oct. 1 at Music Hall, Zaabeel Saray Hotel on Palm Jumeirah.

Al Dhanhani’s inclusion in the prestigious list means she has joined the likes of most powerful Arab business women. She took the 56th position in the Arab world and 14th among the 26 Emirati women who made it to the top 200. Honored as Entrepreneur of the Year in last year’s Arab Women Award, Dhanhani’s high-rank result in the Forbes list came as expected.

The Most Powerful Women in the Arab World List is compiled by Forbes editors on the basis of a full range of criteria which include among others: degree of power associated with the position, years in operation and professional experience, extent of global coverage.

Al Dhanhani is the Chairperson of PappaRoti Café, the Malaysian brand which she has transformed into a favorite café in several countries in the Middle East and beyond. Al Dhanhani holds the franchise licensing rights for PappaRoti in the GCC, Middle East, CIS, North Africa, India, Paris, Switzerland and Brazil.

Expressing deep appreciation, Al Dhanhani said: “I’ve always been passionate about entrepreneurship and believed the impact earnest pursuits bring to society in general.  I didn’t think that such passion would one day put my name in the Forbes list. That I am recognized as influential in the Arab world in a very positive way is truly an honor.”

She added: I strongly believe in the Empowerment of Women and what better way to set an example of women empowerment than for me to be listed on the Forbes magazine as one of the 200 Most Powerful Women in the Arab World for 2014.

AL Dhanhani has proven her position of power with Rasha Investments and Brandnoise Creative Agency which she both owns. Combining business skills with her marketing savvy, she has multiplied her PappaRoti Café business to more than 53 outlets in the Middle East region in only five years. To date, she has empowered many entrepreneurs with franchise opportunities and is actively creating job opportunities to hundreds of employees in the region.

Besides her business expertise, her ethical leadership and commitment to provide people the best, whether customers or staffs, make Rasha Al Dhanhani the successful executive that she is today. She is an inspiration to anyone who dreams of taking something small and turning it into a multi-million dollar enterprise.