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!
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!
We continue to help Palestinian women find ways to earn an income and build financial independence by helping them develop small businesses.
In recent months, NEF has worked with over 30 women in the Nablus-Asira and Jenin-Qabatiya clusters of villages to identify business opportunities in their communities – including in agriculture and crafts.
Twenty-three women participated in our multi-day training workshop in Asira. The women learned about microenterprise development, discussed gender issues, and received training in a variety of skills. Topics included: gender equity, project management, accounting and finance, marketing, business plan development, and more.
Following the training, 14 women received funding for their business plans to either grow or launch their own small business!
In the coming months we’ll continue to provide similar training to women in more villages and fund additional business plans.
THANK YOU for your support of this vital work to create economic opportunities for impoverished Palestinian women!
At 10 a.m. every morning, 300 children burst through the doors of the Jerusalem school Madraseh al-Quds and run towards the outdoor playground. Before the children begin to play, they race to the canteen to buy a morning snack. Because of the Near East Foundation’s (NEF) work with local women’s associations, the school is able to provide its students with fresh and nutritious snacks every day—while also supporting the livelihoods of participating women.
The savory Palestinian treats produced by the women’s associations supported by NEF are filled with local cheese and spices. Members of these women’s associations have learned new skills in NEF trainings – including accounting and business management – and have participated in horticulture projects. Combined, these activities have led to the creation of more than 168 jobs for women.
The Balata Women’s Society, located in the Balata refugee camp, is one of the women’s associations that has benefited from NEF training and whose members sell baked goods in the school canteen. The canteen’s shelves were once filled with candy, juice boxes and potato chips--representative of the malnutrition problem faced by more than 20% of the Palestinian youth. Now, the canteen provides healthy alternative snacks to the children, many of whom come to school with an empty stomach.
On an average school day, the Balata Women’s Society makes about $80 by selling snacks in the canteen. The profits are distributed among the women who work there. In 2012, there were a total of 57 school canteens set up by women’s associations supported by NEF, which collectively have generated $130,000 in revenue. The women are excited to continue providing children with nutritious alternatives, while at the same time continuing to invest in their self-created businesses and supporting women members of their associations.
Your support to women’s business development increases incomes and opportunities for families in the Palestinian Territories. We are excited to expand our work and share similar stories of the impact our activities have on families. Thank You!
Forty Palestinian women have increased their income by an average of $300 per family after receiving agricultural management training and support from NEF field staff since January 2012.
The women successfully increased their income by developing sustainable small enterprises harvesting thyme.
In October 2012, not even a year after the project began, the 40 participating women had a second thyme harvest that was productive in both crop yield and income generation. In the future they will continue to harvest regularly.
Throughout the project, NEF technical staff trained women on seedless propagation of crops in their fields. Through this training, seven women increased their planted thyme area by 200%.
Additionally, ten women learned to process thyme with oregano and sesame to make “Za’tar,” which is 50% more profitable than selling fresh thyme. Combined with olive oil and bread, “Za’tar” is a common breakfast food for Palestinian families.
These 40 women have proven their ability to manage their new microenterprises and are well on their way to becoming successful entrepreneurs. The Near East Foundation will continue to provide them with guidance as needed.
NEF strives to empower women to be successful and independent entrepreneurs. This includes adapting to changing business conditions.
For example, the Balata Women’s Association received NEF support to prepare and distribute nutritionally fortified snacks through the World Food Programme’s school feeding program. When funding ended, Balata women used their experience to establish concessions in primary schools, providing nutritious snacks to children as a private business. With training from NEF, they have created jobs for women and a revenue stream to invest in social development activities that benefit all of them.
As our women partners successfully establish their small enterprises, we can expand our model to help more women. When the thyme project concludes, a new group of women will receive support to develop a variety of business initiatives.
NEF is currently launching a new cycle of support for women micro-entrepreneurs, with a goal of supporting the establishment of at least 150 women micro-enterprises by 2016. These women will receive assistance in:
This exciting expansion will launch in the coming months. We look forward to sharing updates about the impact with you.
Your support to women’s business development increases incomes and opportunities for families in the Palestinian Territories. Thank You!
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