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 14, 2013

Business Skills Training Underway!

The first business skills training sessions begin this month (October) for the women taking part in NEF’s newest initiative in Armenia.

Over the next 18 months, some 50 women will be trained in business and job skills in space provided by SME Development National Center of Armenia, so that these survivors of domestic violence will be able to start their own businesses or find jobs that will lead to their economic independence.

This quarter also saw NEF complete its assessment of the economy and labor market for the city of Yerevan.

The training follows focus groups that NEF and its partners conducted to determine the women’s existing job skills and to better understand why they want to start a business or what they are looking for in a job. 

THANK YOU for supporting this program! Helping women gain skills that will lead to employment may help them find alternatives to their abusive homes.

Oct 10, 2013

Commitment to Gardening Project Remains Strong

Given the outstanding amount of food that these market gardens have produced, and the effect these gardens have had in improving the lives of people in the eight villages taking part in the project, NEF-Mali is entering the new quarter with a strong commitment to continuing this program. There is considerable interest in focusing on encouraging youth and women in the participating villages to become involved.

Farmers used the winter months (July – September) to meet and review the previous season’s results, analyze the overall market garden plan, and work out solutions to challenges they encountered. NEF organized meetings to assess how much water is available and to check on seed production levels as well as to set a production schedule for the upcoming growing season. The NEF team also advised farmers on techniques that will help them continue to increase their market gardening production potential. 

NEF has helped farmers in eight villages launch and operate market gardens where they sell a portion of their produce to meet community food needs and meet their own financial needs. Families eat the remaining portion of their produce at home.

The villages in need where farmers are now producing vegetables with NEF support include: Bagui, Korientzé, N'Gorodia (rural town of Korombana), Dari, Deri (rural town of N'Diaptodji), Mounouwel, Kikara (rural town of Gandamia), and Gafity (rural town of Debere).

THANK YOU for supporting families in Mali as they recover from drought and occupation! YOU are improving their lives today and helping them build food security for the future!

Aug 14, 2013

53 Palestinian Women Receive Business Training and Support

Palestinian women in a recent NEF training session
Palestinian women in a recent NEF training session

Women in the West Bank village of Qabatia are busy planning for their future business after learning about a new opportunity: making stone carvings.

Stone cutting is a leading industry in the area – but it has always been dominated by men because of the physical effort required for many jobs. However, at a recent NEF workshop in the community to discuss income-generating opportunities for women, a representative from the local stonecutters union introduced the idea that women could work with stone remnants – a low-cost by-product of manufacturing – and transform the smaller stone pieces into carvings or home decorations for sale.

In Qabatia and elsewhere in the West Bank, NEF continues to empower women by supporting them in developing business opportunities in both innovative and traditional industries. We provide the training and financing they need to make their dreams of earning an income a reality.

Since our last report, 53 Palestinian women have participated in business development workshops sponsored by NEF in the villages of Qabatia-Jenin, Nablus, and Salfeet.

During the multi-day training sessions, women learn a variety of skills – such as product development, management, accounting and finance, and marketing.

After completing the training, they are encouraged to submit a business plan for consideration of funding.

This year, NEF has approved 40 business plans proposed by women in the West Bank to receive financing and begin the development process. The plans are selected based on criteria such as the business idea and a market evaluation of their competitive advantage in the area.

The women will pursue businesses in farming, food processing, and other areas – like craft production or retail shops. They range in age from 25 – 56 years old and have education levels varying from no secondary education to a university degree.

Beyond financial support, NEF will help coach the women at every step of the way as they develop and launch their businesses.

We are also supporting economic development more broadly in the West Bank by bringing community residents together to identify income-generating opportunities for women, based on local needs, skills, and demands.

Sometimes these discussions involve brainstorming solutions to barriers that prevent women from working in a certain area – like the women working with stone remnants in Qabatia. In Salfeet, one of the opportunity areas discussed was cooking and baking. While this is a traditional business of both men and women in the West Bank, men generally operate their own retail bakeries to earn an income while women produce at home and sell only when they have pre-orders. The group discussed ways for women to increase sales by better promoting their products.

Beyond providing direct support to women in the West Bank, the NEF team is working to improve the likelihood of success for women’s businesses there by making recommendations to others who can support them. This includes state and local governments, as well as local organizations and businesses – all of whom play a role in fostering economic development activities for women in their community.

In the coming months, we will help women continue their business development and build toward launching their own businesses!

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

Women brainstorm business opportunities
Women brainstorm business opportunities
And share their ideas with other women
And share their ideas with other women

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