Near East Foundation (NEF)

Founded in 1915, the Near East Foundation's mission is to help build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities in the Middle East and Africa through education, governance, and economic development initiatives. NEF is an operational NGO with projects in seven countries -- Armenia, Egypt, Jordan, Mali, Morocco, Palestine, and Sudan -- where we work to directly improve the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable people through programs in Peacebuilding, Civic Engagement and Education, Sustainable Agriculture, and Business Development. In the field, approximately 50 NEF staff members-all of them from the countries in which they work-partner with local organizations to find homeg...
Oct 8, 2014

New Mother Achieves Economic Independence

When thirty-five-year-old Anahit found out she was pregnant, she began receiving threats from her partner and his family. The relentless conflict made Anahit’s environment unbearable, and she was quickly referred to a shelter run by one of Near East Foundation’s local partners. Once safe and secure, Anahit began attending trainings on domestic violence to help process her trauma. Additionally, as her due date approached, she received parenting guidance, as well as financial and health assistance to prepare her for her new role as a mother.

By the time her daughter was born, Anahit had found work as a manicurist. However, with a new baby to provide for, Anahit aspired for something more. It was this inclination that propelled her to join NEF’s Women’s Economic Empowerment and Advocacy (WEEA) project.

Anahit’s background in cosmetology gave her a marketable skill, and through NEF’s trainings, she learned business strategies such as planning and budgeting. With this new knowledge, she was able to acquire a small grant from NEF to start her own laser hair removal business. One of the best parts of Anahit’s business is the work-from-home component, a desirable element for a mother with a new baby.

NEF’s WEEA project works with survivors of domestic violence like Anahit, to provide them with skills and resources they need to become economically independent. The initiative aims to assist at least fifty women experiencing domestic violence in Armenia with skills, resources, and support networks to reach economic independence and advocate for economic rights. Ultimately, women have the option of choosing whether to find employment or begin a microenterprise.

Today, Anahit is able to financially support herself and her daughter. “I never knew that I was capable of being so goal-oriented,” she said. “I’m back on my feet again, and I’m not dependent on anyone. I can take care of my baby and myself.”

So far, NEF has worked with 36 women who are now operating viable microenterprise projects and hold sustainable employment positions.


THANK YOU for supporting this critical work to help women survivors of domestic violence in Armenia gain skills and earn an income so they can build a new life for their families!

*Anahit is a fictional name used to protect her identity.

Aug 11, 2014

Women Launch 73 New Businesses!

Ilham holds a tray of Mo
Ilham holds a tray of Mo'ajanat, a rolled pastry.

Ilham holds a tray of Mo’ajanat, a rolled pastry sweetened with dates, baked as part of her food processing business in the West Bank. With training, support, and startup grants from the Near East Foundation, women in the West Bank are developing professional business plans and launching businesses.

Through your generous support, women like Ilham have now launched over 73 new or expanded businesses in the West Bank. NEF provides participants with training in microenterprise development, offers support in the development of professional business plans, and helps to secure funding for new projects. 

Ilham first learned about NEF’s project through her local women’s association. Hoping to expand her baking business and gain new clients, she reached out to participate in the project .  With new skills from training sessions, a professional business plan, and financing, Ilham was able to invest in and expand her business.  She has seen much success in her expanded business, increasing her income and supporting her family.  

“Now not only can I buy raw materials and supplies, I also have money to pay for my personal needs and wants, and I can give my children daily pocket money,” Ilham said.

Learn more about Ilham’s story through this video.

The project’s support does not end after businesses are launched; NEF continues to provide ongoing monitoring and coaching to women entrepreneurs in their first years.  

While the work is ongoing, this month marks the end of our campaign on Global Giving.  Our work in the West Bank continues – and we hope that you will continue to follow our activities and the impact of our projects through our websiteFacebook page, or Twitter feed

THANK YOU for your ongoing support and for helping women like Ilham to grow their businesses, help their families achieve financial independence and benefit their community.  We hope that you will continue to follow NEF’s work! For more on Global Giving, consider NEF's work in rural Armenia. 


Jul 10, 2014

Armenian Survivor Takes the Cake with New Business

Mane's pakhlava and gata are sold in 4 stores

After nine years of abuse and harassment by her husband, Mane never imagined that she could find the power not only to stand-up for she and her kids but also to start her own business.  

But that’s exactly what happened after she went from a hospital to a women’s shelter where her life turned a corner. At the shelter, run by one of the Near East Foundation’s local partners, she learned about an initiative to help women survivors of domestic violence earn an income and become financially independent.

Mane shared her skills and love for baking with project leaders, who guided her in developing a business plan to produce cakes. Through business planning and management trainings, Mane acquired the skills she would need to be a successful entrepreneur. She also researched consumer demand in her area and learned that the products she hoped to offer were highly requested in the local market.

With start-up equipment and materials provided by NEF, Mane launched her business to great acclaim. She makes pakhlava and gata with a famous recipe from the Gavar Region for 4 different stores in Yerevan.

Mane beams when talking about her cakes and starting her own home-based business: ‘’The taste of my product is special; it is the best. This was my idea and the most important thing is that now I have business skills... Training helped me understand that I am able to work for myself and make an income for me and my children,’’ she said.

Because Mane’s cakes are so popular, more stores are requesting to sell them. Only a few weeks after launching her business, Mane is already planning to expand production volume to satisfy market demand.

This is exciting for Mane, who has used the $60 in income she earned so far to buy materials for production and still had some leftover to devote to her personal needs.

‘’Yes, now I am busy with my business and my favorite job. I like baking. This business helps me not only in getting financial sustainability and caring for my family, it also helps me forget the hard times I had to live through for so long.’’

Through her work with NEF’s entrepreneurship program, Mane is gradually recovering the energy, self-confidence, and motivation to work that she had lost during the difficult years in her abusive home. She continues to receive business mentoring from project leaders and is part of a social support network with other women survivors turned entrepreneurs.

Now she and her daughter live safely with her parents and, as her mom helps with the baking, Mane is beginning to take a leadership role in supporting her entire family.

THANK YOU for supporting this critical work to help women survivors of domestic violence in Armenia gain skills and earn an income so they can build a new life for their families!

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