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Cultural Entrepreneurship: Food, Family, and Values

October 19, 2021 @ 5:00 pm - 6:15 pm


In the face of today’s political climate in the Middle Eastern North African (MENA) region, the family remains the pillar behind cultural prosperity and professional success. One of the ways we, as humans, unite has always been around food, so the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIE) has partnered with the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence (CFEE) along with local MENA-owned restaurants to create this panel. Join us for an insightful discussion on family-owned businesses in the DMV area advocating and practicing their culture within the community.


About the Speakers

Co-Founder of Z&Z, Danny Dubbaneh

Danny Dubbaneh is co-founder of Z&Z. Danny is a Palestinian-American and is a graduate of the University of Maryland and Seton Hall University. Prior to Z&Z Danny worked in immigration research in New York City.


Co-Founder of Lapis DC, Fatima Popal

Fatima Popal is managing partner of The Popal Group (TPG), the family business that owns and operates several popular Washington DC restaurants including Lapis, The Berliner, Lutece, and LaPop. As head of TPG’s business operations and finance, Fatima oversees all aspects of the company’s financial and business development strategy. Along with her brother and parents, she has helped expand the company since its founding in 2003 with the establishment of Cafe Bonaparte—the beloved Parisian crêperie in Georgetown that was the Popal family’s first culinary venture.

In addition to her entrepreneurial work in hospitality, Fatima spent over nine years in Afghanistan working in the private sector. Most recently she was on the board for INFRONTIER. An investment group whose mission was to generate commercial returns by investing in market leaders in Afghanistan that had the potential to shape whole sectors of the economy. As the head of M-Paisa (Mobile Money) she helped to advance the country’s telecommunications industry where she built processes and designed the financial blueprint of how mobile money can be used in different capacities within Afghanistan. Fatima has also worked with USAID’s Mission in Afghanistan and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to conduct outreach to Afghan women as part of the U.S. government’s women’s empowerment programs.

Fatima graduated from Georgetown and GWU with degrees in international relations and international business. She speaks fluent Dari and Spanish and resides in Virginia with her family


About the Moderator

GWOIE Entrepreneurial Fellow, Mariam Zara

Mariam is a Senior at GW School of Business studying Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. In her role as an Entrepreneurial fellow, she provides effective guidance to other students seeking evidence and experienced-based direction in moving their ideas forward. Witnessing how team-led ventures grow excited Mariam tremendously and she is now applying that same excitement and passion toward building her own startup.

Please note that this is an online event. The Zoom link for the event will be sent to all registrants a few days prior to the session.



October 19, 2021
5:00 pm - 6:15 pm
Event Category:


GW School of Business
International Council for Small Business