Empower Women Entrepreneurs in Palestine & Jordan

May 13, 2014

50 Women Start New Businesses in the West Bank

Khadija's clothing shop.
Khadija's clothing shop is one of only two in her village in the West Bank. The addition of alteration services -- with a startup grant from the Near East Foundation -- has given her a competetive advantage in the market.

With support from the Near East Foundation (NEF), made possible in part by your generous support, women like Khadija have started 50 new businesses in the West Bank – creating 103 new jobs

NEF provides women with training in microenterprise development, supports them in the development of professional business plans, and helps the participating women to secure funding for their new projects.  Women have created exciting and unique new businesses – clothes shops, organic food stores, mushroom agribusinesses, and beekeeping operations among others.  These businesses are helping the women and their families achieve financial independence.

Khadija, a single mother, has expanded her clothes shop to include sewing machines so that she can make alterations for her customers.

Her village of Haris, in the West Bank, only had one clothing store.  Whe she overheard people in her community talk about the need for variety, Khadija responded by raising the capital for a new clothing business with her brother. But she soon saw an opportunity to expand. 

“I noticed most of the women who come to buy from my shop also need their clothes altered,” she said. “I realized that a sewing machine would give me a competitive advantage in the market.”

Khadija participated in NEF’s program – creating a business plan to grow her business and successfully securing a start-up grant for expansion.

“Having your own business is not only about money,” she says. “It is also about achieving your social, psychological, and financial independence. My business makes me feel that I’m an active and useful person in this community.”

THANK YOU for your ongoing support and for helping women like Khadija to star new businesses that help their families achieve financial independence and benefit their community.

Feb 11, 2014

Woman Entrepreneur Turns Passion Into Profits

Carmen launched her business with your support!
Carmen launched her business with your support!

Until very recently, Carmen, a young Palestinian woman studying computer science, never imagined she could start a full-time business doing henna artwork--something she loves but always considered only a hobby.

“I was scared in the beginning,” she said. “I was just practicing my skills... I never had the motivation to turn it into a business, but the Near East Foundation opens the door for us.”

Carmen is one of almost 50 Palestinian women who started their own business in 2013 with Near East Foundation support, thanks to the generosity of donors like you.

The new businesses have created nearly 100 new jobs!

In total, NEF is providing training to 200 Palestinian women entrepreneurs and supporting them in creating 150 new businesses.

On average, women entrepreneurs provide 75% of the start-up capital and NEF contributes the remaining 25%, in addition to ongoing training and mentoring support.

The program allows Carmen and women entrepreneurs like her to plan for their futures knowing they can provide income for themselves. The new businesses range from small farms and bakery operations to retail shops. 

Carmen’s future aspirations extend to those like her. “I hope NEF continues to include more women so they can benefit from this program as I have benefitted. And I hope NEF keeps following up with us to help improve and expand our microenterprises,” she said enthusiastically.

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

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
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
May 15, 2013

14 Women Receive Funding for their Businesses

Women share ideas about business opportunities
Women share ideas about business opportunities

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!

Women in Asira discuss gender issues
Women in Asira discuss gender issues
Discussion during economic assessment in Qabatiya
Discussion during economic assessment in Qabatiya

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Project Leader

Sarah Peterson

Program Officer
Syracuse, New York United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Empower Women Entrepreneurs in Palestine & Jordan