Inside Iran: Lessons From a Female Business Leader


‘I wanted to prove that women can everything that men can do.’

Fatemeh Moghimi had a tough time starting her haulage business in Iran 26 years ago. 

“It’s not just about Iran, if you think about transportation all over the world they think this kind of job belongs to the man,” Moghimi said from her office at the Tehran Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where she is the first woman to sit on the board of directors in the Chamber’s 130-year history.

When Moghimi wanted to apply for a driving license for trucks and heavy vehicles, people kept telling her it wouldn’t be possible. The Islamic Revolution did nothing to change or limit women’s ability to drive, and they are as visible as their male peers on roads across Iran’s cities. But socially, driving a truck seemed somewhat unacceptable to a lot of people. 

Undeterred, Moghimi, now 57, said she kept pushing, knowing that the law was on her side. Eventually she got her license to drive a truck. Over the years she has secured licenses for several women in her fleet of (mostly male) drivers. 

She still occasionally takes the wheel herself. 

Moghimi says her company, Sadid Bar International Transport, is one of the top five largest haulage companies in Iran. She would not disclose figures for revenues or profits at the firm and it is not publicly listed in Iran. However she says it has been profitable for many years. She also works as a business coach, mentoring entrepreneurs at her offices. 

On a typical Saturday, Moghimi is inundated with requests from women who need guidance and tips on how to take their businesses forward. Some of her advice is simple, crosses boundaries and is resolutely non-gender-specific.

“It’s not about my gender as a woman,” she says. “When you feel you can do something and you are an expert in it and you can believe, then you can transfer that to society and everything.” 

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haulage   /ˈhɔːlɪdʒ/   N               

the business of carrying goods by road or railway, or the cost of doing this


Chamber   /ˈtʃeɪmbər/   N        

a large room in a public building, especially one used for meetings

“the council chamber of city hall”

“a debating chamber”


Commerce   /ˈkɑˌmɜrs/   N        

the activity of buying and selling goods and services

“the needs of industry and commerce”


board of directors      N        

هیئت مدیره


driving license      N        

گواهی‌نامه رانندگی


truck   /trʌk/   N               

a ​large ​vehicle with an ​open or ​covered ​space in the back to ​hold a ​load of ​goods


peer   /pɪər/   N               

a ​person of the same ​age, the same ​social ​position, or having the same ​abilities as other ​people in a ​group:

“Getting ​help from a peer is ​easier than ​asking a ​teacher.”


kept pushing   V               

means don’t stop, don’t give up, don’t lose hope, stay focused.


secure   /sɪˈkjʊr/   V        

to get or achieve something important

“He secured widespread support among the party’s senior members.”


secure someone’s release

make it possible for someone such as a prisoner to have their freedom:

“We are seeking their assistance in securing the release of the hostages.”

secure a victory:

“The team secured their second victory of the season.”


occasionally   /əˈkāZH(ə)nəlē/   Adv    

at infrequent or irregular intervals



takes the wheel                                 

To be in control of the steering wheel of a vehicle or a vessel.

Jesus can you take the wheel for a minute while I take off my gloves?”


disclose   /dɪsˈkloʊz/   V        

to give information to people, especially information that was secret

“Most of the people interviewed requested that their identity not be disclosed.”


mentor   /ˈmen·tɔr, -tər/   N               

an ​experienced and ​trusted ​person who gives another ​person ​advice and ​help, esp. ​related to ​work or ​school, over a ​period of ​time


inundated with   /ˈɪnənˌdeɪt/   V        

to send or provide much more of something than someone can easily deal with

be inundated with/by something:

“We’ve been inundated with calls from angry listeners.”


Cross boundary                                

cross the line, Sometimes, cross a boundary.

 to go beyond accepted standards of behavior:

“His outburst crossed the line between heated argument and offensive vilification.”


resolutely   /ˈrez·əˌlut·li, ˌrez·əˈlut-/   Adv     


 determined in ​character, ​action, or ​ideas:

“I ​admired her resolute ​optimism in those ​difficult ​times”.


“She resolutely ​refuses to ​lower her ​standards.”


gender-specific   /ˈdʒendər/ /spəˈsɪfɪk/   Adj     

relating only either to males or to females

“a gender-specific disease”

“Left-handedness is not gender-specific.”