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...
Jan 9, 2014

Life is Changing with Improved Harvest & Profits

Farmers use their new skills to improve profits
Farmers use their new skills to improve profits

For Idris Abdullah, a gum arabic farmer from Al Adiat Asharqia, the arrival of summer used to signal the time for his annual migration in search of alternative sources of income. This meant leaving his family and village behind for uncertain prospects and no guarantee of financial reward for his journey.

However, life has changed for Idris and his family because of the support he received from NEF thanks to generous donors like you.

By employing new skills he learned from NEF trainings, Idris increased his sesame harvest from 2 to 5 sacks in previous years to 35 sacks this year! With the increase in production and profits from his crop, Idris is able to provide for his family without having to journey away from his village.

NEF offers workshops where hundreds of farmers like Idris have learned a variety of new skills to improve the management and sustainability of gum arabic-producing Acacia trees on which their livelihoods – and a substantial portion of the local economy in North Kordofan, Sudan – is based. This is no small matter when one considers that a large part of the world’s supply of gum arabic, which is used in many everyday products such as soft drinks, comes from this region.

With his additional income, Idris is providing financial backing to his village to help advance their collective efforts to protect the Acacia woodlands from fire, arbitrary cutting, and improper harvesting practices.

At the NEF training workshops, farmers also learn new skills in other areas such as project and financial management. This is crucial to help farmers prepare to handle the increased revenue they may earn through better farming methods. We also share strategies on how to efficiently use micro-loan financing they may receive to support the planting of new crops.

NEF recently conducted four training workshops for over 425 members of Gum Arabic Producer Associations in Sudan. During the workshops farmers gained knowledge and had the opportunity to see the impact of the project’s activities first hand through tours of local farms and communities where improved gum arabic management techniques have been put into practice.

With the success of farmers like Idris, word about the project and its benefits is spreading to neighboring villages beyond the project area. Local farmers are sharing the best practices they’ve learned to increase the quality and quantity of their harvest – and ultimately increase market value and profits.

Thanks to your support, more are more vulnerable farmers like Idris have the ability to better provide for their families and communities, and to help protect the sustainability of the natural resources they depend upon for survival. THANK YOU!

Nov 13, 2013

44 Women-owned Businesses Launching in Palestine!

A beekeeping entrepreneur in Nablus-Asira
A beekeeping entrepreneur in Nablus-Asira

It has been an incredible time for women entrepreneurs in the West Bank participating in NEF’s program to help them launch their own small businesses!

Because of the generosity of donors like you, NEF will be able to provide up to 30% of their start-up funds in the form of grants that do not need to be repaid.

After receiving skills training and carefully developing their business plans, and now with funding, the women entrepreneurs are at the stage of starting their businesses!

As you can see in the pictures, the 44 women-owned businesses range from farming to food processing and also other areas – like craft production or retail shops.

During this time as the women launch their businesses, we’ve continued to provide additional training and mentoring support to help them navigate the at times difficult process of becoming a business owner.

THANK YOU for your support of this vital work to create economic opportunities for impoverished Palestinian women and their families!

Launching a home gardening small enterprise
Launching a home gardening small enterprise
Operating a school canteen serving children snacks
Operating a school canteen serving children snacks
Oct 14, 2013

Support for Gum Arabic Farmers Shows Results

In the last quarter, farmers in Sudan received 5,000 Acacia Senegal tree seedlings from the Near East Foundation (NEF) as efforts to ensure the future of an important source of income continue.

The trees provide gum arabic, a stabilizer used in products as varied as soft drinks and watercolor paint. Sudan is one of the top producers of gum arabic in the world.

NEF not only is training small farmers in methods to increase gum arabic production in the present, the organization also is working to ensure there will be enough trees for future production.

NEF held meetings to explain to communities why it's important to protect the Acacia trees, and also worked with Sudan's National Forest Corporation to set new rules and procedures for protecting the trees. Along with distributing the seedlings, NEF and the National Forest Corporation recently dispensed seeds.

The amount of gum arabic being harvested already is increasing as a result of NEF's training on production and small business operations. As a result, area farmers are starting to see an increase in their incomes!

Your support is vital to Sudan's gum arabic farmers and to NEF's efforts on their behalf. Thank you for helping these farmers support themselves and their families and for making sure there are Acacia trees for future generations!

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