Hello Rooh, thank you for answering our questions! Could you share a bit of your background with us? Where do you come from and what was your career path before coming to France?
I was born in Iran where I started to work in journalism at about 17-18 years of age. I was part of the reformist youth movement of the 2000s. I contributed to the creation of a few social and cultural associations. I was also active in politics. With the fast spread of the internet around the world, and being a blogger and a podcaster, I became interested in digital communication and digital mobilization. As a result, I founded a digital communication agency with my friends who are artists and activists. During the 2009 presidential elections, we were able to mobilize thousands of Iranian citizens in favor of the reformist candidate and against the populist candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was a new form of mobilization that allowed us to resist and challenge the manipulation of the 2009 election results.
You seem to be an entrepreneur at heart! After creating “Les Lettres Persanes" (The Persian Letters), you are currently developing Jahan.info. Can you tell us more about this new project?
After learning French, I started working with the media writing articles and reports on international issues, including the Middle East. I realized that there was a real lack of first-hand information from direct sources on-site but also that journalists and the European and American experts have very little knowledge of the complexity surrounding local issues. Few are really specialized in their research topics. At the same time, with this globalized world, there is a growing need for relevant information with international angles. The reality is we cannot be experts of everything and be everywhere at the same time, and we do not have the means to recruit several specialists on a variety of subjects, even if they are available to us at all times. I did realize, however, that we can take advantage of AI in order to have access to relevant information but also do a good quality analysis work.
I designed a platform where users can input their centers of interest. Then, our algorithm finds the best press articles and does a 360° analysis (visualize data, filter articles, show tendencies, detect weak signals, etc.)
Who is Jahan.info's target audience ? How do you imagine its longer-term development?
It is a B2B kind of business. Our clients are mostly organizations (companies, ministries, think tanks, etc.) with international activities. Right now, our clients are European organizations seeking information on Arabic-speaking countries. We are considering, short term, to develop our expertise with other Asian countries whose languages are different, and whose contexts are complex. We are technically capable of making our services accessible to North American companies. It is just a matter of marketing strategy. After all, we are based in Europe.
You are among the first three entrepreneurs supported by FAIRE. What do you expect of this support and what does it mean to you?
In a discriminatory ecosystem, where foreigners in general and refugee entrepreneurs in particular, are systematically excluded from public or private funding mechanisms because of their legal status or the lack of network and social capital, FAIRE’s help was vital.
If you had one piece of advice to give to a refugee who wishes to become an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Entrepreneurship in itself is both a rewarding and an exhausting path. You need to be ambitious but also pragmatic. A refugee, thanks to their background, would have the privilege of seeing things differently. Which would make them more sensitive to innovative solutions, a quality that is necessary for entrepreneurship. However, due to the lack of social capital in a new society, they will be more vulnerable to everyday problems. Partnering with someone local would reduce this vulnerability and the partnership would increase their chances to succeed, as a local would know the local contexts better, even if they are not at the origin of the project. It is a necessary complementarity. Therefore, I strongly suggest being open to a complementary partnership with a local.
What can we wish you for the future?
Selling 50 ultimate subscriptions within a year.