INTERNATIONAL cooperation and co-creation is the primary focus of the Qatar-America Year of Culture – and Doha-based American, Mari Pearce, has discovered first-hand how Qatar's future-focused society can facilitate innovation.
As the wife of a U.S. Diplomat, Mari is no stranger to the hurdles faced by entrepreneurs living overseas, but she says the benefits far outweigh the challenges.
A licensed Real Estate Agent in California, Mari long ago discovered that members of her U.S. Foreign Service community needed a centralized, international resource that could enable them to buy and invest in U.S. real estate from anywhere in the world. Of course, actually building that business, Afield Real Estate, with her partners, Claire Boyte-White and Lesley Clarke, while moving around the globe, was no easy feat.
As the three American women built Afield over the past three years, they learned to adapt – to be flexible with time zones and opposing schedules – but they also learned just how much their international exposure could teach them about how to build a business from the heart.
Mari says she continues to be amazed and inspired by the entrepreneurial drive of the people in Qatar: "Coming to Doha in 2019 and learning about the amazing culture here – where there really is such an amazing community of female entrepreneurs – has been so inspiring. Since arriving, I have become friends with Ms. Johara Al-Suwaidi and watched her build her fashion label, Casa Johara, from the ground up. Her passion and vision really opened my eyes to the fact that building a business, even from overseas, is a blessing."
Mari and the Afield team have also taken a lot of inspiration from watching female Qatari leadership and their global impact on education, leadership, and culture. Of the lessons they’ve learned from these powerful women, Mari says fearlessness, confidence, and a committed focus on helping people have made the biggest difference in how they've gone about growing their company despite being on opposite sides of the globe.
“Bold, culture-shifting initiatives from the Qatar Foundation, like the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), have really inspired us to think bigger than we ever thought we could", said Afield's Executive Vice President, Claire Boyte-White.
"We've actually expanded our offerings and developed a new kind of real estate service that I don't think had ever really been tried before – a completely bespoke, customized service that gives our clients access to exclusive properties and opportunities they normally wouldn't have the time or networks to access– and a lot of the courage to do that came from seeing what other women around the world are doing."
Though Afield is a U.S. company focused on U.S. real estate, Mari's connection to Doha has opened up the company's international appeal as well. In fact, Afield recently announced a collaboration with Doha's own Yezenia Navarro.
Ms. Navarro noted that this work is a departure from what she's typically known for, but said she has been inspired to branch out by watching Qatari leaders. “Here in Qatar, we have such inspiring female leaders like Sheikha Moza and Sheikha Al-Mayassa. Watching their bold and heart-centered works has been a big part of what made me decide that I wanted to support the innovative work being done by the Afield Real Estate team.”
Innovation, in fact, is at the core of Afield’s entire business model. "Real estate isn't new, and neither are international transactions. But fully remote, white-glove service for U.S. and international clients remains less accessible," commented Afield's Vice President of Operations, Lesley Clarke. "And, with the upcoming unveiling of our new invite-only luxury club, PRIVÉ Exclusive, we'll be able to cater to our elite clientele in a way no one else is, so we're very excited to be able to discover and explore new ways of serving our clients around the world without being held back by restrictive and outdated ideas about who's allowed to benefit from the U.S. markets."