A Startup in Iran




pursuit overcome determined
tap obstacle encourage
hastily dominate committed
approve platform encounter
at least tender (2) resistance
hygiene ambition throw in the deep end
partial intensive dependent
right (3) spread (2) entrepreneur
don (2) thing (2) is my thing
allow establish headscarf
oasis authority accident (2)
privacy stay put shortcoming
intend evaluate permission
ponder pioneer objective (2)
expand attract get in touch


Video (First 7:00)




The Islamic Republic of Iran, a country where men enjoy far more rights than women.

Many women, in particular well educated ones, leave the country.

Tabassom Latifi would like to stay. She’s established a startup in Tehran and is determined to overcome all obstacles and achieve success.

Now, after the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, many Iranians hope the country will open up.

But can Latifi make it as a woman in a male-dominated society?

In a small Tehran side street, Latifi works hard every day in pursuit of her goal. Her startup idea is called “Mom and Pas”.

It’s an internet platform and mobile phone app that allows customers to order home-cooked Iranian food with a mouse-click or a few taps on a touch-screen.

The meals are then delivered.

Latifi enjoys being her own boss, at the tender age of 29.

But not everyone approves of her ambitions.

Most Iranian women don’t work . . . and they certainly don’t start their own businesses.

She encountered resistance, even within her own family.

Tabassom Latifi: “My mom told me ‘don’t do that. That is not a job. You should just do a real job. You should go and be a manager in some company. I don’t know — you studied so much, for 16 years in school and university and you were a very good student and some sort of thing.’

But they didn’t believe my idea.”

In a country where women are often required have to permission from fathers and husbands for basic societal decisions, family support is essential to avoid problems.

But Latifi was lucky to have one committed supporter in her corner, right from the beginning: her husband, Medi.

Midi, Husband: “I encouraged her to start this path because she was not happy with her job at that time. She thought that she was not very useful in that job and I told, ‘at least you may have a happier life.’”

Latifi quit her well-paid job at a bank and went freelance — throwing herself into the deep end.

Tabassom Latifi: “I have to have my own business, because I don’t want to be an employee anymore because you don’t have enough authority and everything to do whatever you want: to make a new thing that didn’t exist before. I wanted to create something.”

Husband Medi also works for Mom and Pas. He has no problem about his wife also being his boss. Behind every good woman, you might say, is a good man.

It’s a labor-intensive business. Latifi is heading to visit one of the Iranian housewives who cooks for her food-delivery platform.

Nahid is hard at work.

Latifi takes a look at her kitchen. The women who work for her have all passed safety, hygiene and health checks.

And of course, the food has to taste good as well.

Tabassom Latifi: “We are tasting every food when it’s going to be on the menu. But some of the foods are not good enough, and do not pass the quality test for Mom and Pas. So we have to tell them that this food is not approved.

And this is the hardest part of our job, actually.”

Nahid has been approved: her food is delicious. She’s become a favorite among Latifi’s customers.

On the menu today is mirta chazimi: eggplant spread.

Nahid likes to cook.

And she needed a job.

Nahid: “Since my husband died, I’ve had to provide for myself. So at the start I applied to office jobs.

But I soon noticed that cooking was my thing.

Then I meet Mrs. Latifi and heard about Mom and Pas.

The company employs 29 other women in Tehran as cooks. Those women owe their jobs to Tabassom Latifi. So they’re dependant on the young entrepreneur.

That is a lot of responsibility for a 29-year old Iranian woman.

Nahid hastily dons a headscarf, and hands over an attractively packaged food to a young man.

He takes to his motorcycle — that’s the only way to get through the heavy traffic in the Iranian capital.

It’s no accident that the delivery boy is a man: women are allowed to drive in the Islamic Republic, but not motorcycles.

Before her next appointment, Latifi takes the opportunity to meet two friends in Tehran’s most famous park, the Park Elalei.

It’s an oasis of calm in the disorder of the Iranian capital.

In the partial privacy of the park, different rules apply than out in the open in Tehran’s street.

The park is a place where Latifi and her friends can speak openly. It’s been a while since they have seen one another.

One of Latifi’s friends lives in Canada.

She is one of many young Iranian women who have emigrated in search of a better education, greater job opportunities and more freedom.

But Latafi says she’s staying put.

Tabassom Latifi: “I prefer to continue my life in Iran. I love living in Iran. I would just like to go and visit other countries as a tourist. That’s it.

I don’t want to live in other countries for a long time, because I like to speak Farsi. And I love Iranian food — everything.

I like living in Iran, with my family, my friends, with this culture.”

At the same time, she intends to continue her career.

Latifi wants to show that women too can make their mark on Iranian commercial life.

She’s trying to address one of her potential shortcomings: she’s attending a cooking course.

Latafi admits, she doesn’t cook at all well.

Yet she has to know what good cooking is in order to evaluate her own products.

But it’s not easy — the young entrepreneur has a lot on her plate.

The authorities in Tehran aren’t used to dealing with businesses like hers. So they have a lot of questions.

Tabassom Latifi: “People are selling products to each other, and we are just in the middle of this thing. And there isn’t any kind of permission right now for this kind of business.

But we are trying to make this whole way for others, maybe for us and the others after us.”

The work of a pioneer is never easy.

Latifi’s days are long, and sometimes even longer, depending on Tehran’s traffic.

Tonight, she’s staying at home with her husband Medi.

Latifi says she doesn’t spend time pondering questions like whether it’s much harder for her as a woman to start a company in Iran, than it would be for Medi, as a man.

Tabassom Latifi: “If you’re not ambitious enough, you can’t be a really, really successful person because you need to work so hard, and to try to reach your target, your objectives.

If you don’t have a big objective, you can’t reach lower objectives.

So you have to think big and start small, and try to get there.”

This is just the beginning for Tabassom Latifi. With the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, she may be able to attract foreign credit and investment, and be able to expand.

She says the first potential partners have already gotten in touch.

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Pizza. Men and women usually have equal opportunities in Iran. Yes or no?

What is Latifi’s startup? How does it function or operate?

Doner, Gyros, Shawarma.
All her family members thought she had a great idea and supported her. Is this right or wrong?

Did Latifi start her business because she was unemployed and needed work and money? Why did she quit her job and start her own business? Is it the same for all the women cooks?

Taco, Burrito, Enchilada. Is Latifi’s job easy, just sitting in front of her computer?

Crepe, Pancake.
Do the cooks deliver their home-cooked dishes, themselves? How is it delivered? Why is the food delivered like that?

Croissant, Strudel. Is the atmosphere in parks similar to or different from the streets?

Many Iranian women emigrate. True or false? Why do they emigrate? Is Latifi also planning to emigrate?

Fish and Chips. According to Latifi, what is the key to success? What must people do to become successful?
Curry. Women in my country have the same opportunities as men; women and men are completely equal. Is this entirely true, mostly true, in the middle, yes and no, partially, not usually, or no?

Barbecue, Shish Kebab.
Does your city have a similar home-cooked delivery service platform or app? Is it popular?

Stuffed Cabbage, Peppers, Grape Leaves. Is this enterprise or program great (for everyone)? Is everyone happy about this? Who would benefit? Are there any “losers”?

Beans and Rice.
Can you think of other online platforms that are popular or exists?

Sauerkraut, Kimchee. Could you create a platform or app? Do you have any ideas that may have great potential?

Samosa, Buns.
What will happen in the future?

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