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Apr 16, 2018

From Pharmacist to Businesswoman - Ma'ali's Story!

Introducing Ma'ali!
Introducing Ma'ali!

Ma’ali is a pharmacist who studied at An-Najah National University. She is married and has two children. Despite her studies, Ma’ali does not work in pharmaceuticals and has been working at a money exchange store for 9 years. As Ma’ali’s eldest son began to grow up, she realized that he was incredibly intelligent and that his cognitive abilities far exceeded any educational tools available in Palestine. Both Ma’ali and her son endured a very difficult period, as her son was not challenged in school and developed behavioural problems. Conversely, it was evident early in his development that Ma’ali’s second son had a learning disability. Ultimately, Ma’ali was confronted with the same problem as with her eldest son; there were no educational tools for her second son that would address his cognitive needs. Ma’ali decided to find a solution to meet the educational needs of her children. She began attending conferences and workshops to meet teachers, psychologists, and social workers to inquire about the types of educational tools required for both disabled and advanced students. Ma’ali began to develop multi-level books and games for children who fall on a wide range of the learning spectrum.

Ma’ali first learned about the Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs project (APWE) at the Tulkarem Rural Women’s Association. Ma’ali joined APWE because she is a new entrepreneur and wants to learn how to operate her business well and widen her business networks. Because Ma’ali studied pharmacy, she had no experience creating a business or financial plan. Through APWE, she learned how to price products correctly, how to balance income and expenses, and how to use business and financial plans to create new business connections. Additionally, she learned how to create a market research study and how to target customers and identify market needs. Through marketing and branding training, Ma’ali better understood the importance of an authentic logo and how it can be fundamental to business success.

Ma'ali greatly benefited from the business plan she developed with APWE and used it both to introduce her business to new partners and to participate in competitions. She participated in the Pioneers of Palestine program with non-profit organization Synergos and had the opportunity to attend a number of additional business training focused on fundraising, legal advice, and human development. In October 2017, Ma'ali registered her business with the Chamber of Commerce after learning how important this was to expand her business further!

In the future, Ma'ali hopes to produce hard copies of her educational tools, including kits for science and a series of educational books and puzzles for children with learning disabilities. She also wishes to open a learning centre for children to help them understand school curricula using different approaches.

Mar 1, 2018

It's Not Goodbye. It's See You Later!

Ali gives a thumbs-up for the first day at TYO!
Ali gives a thumbs-up for the first day at TYO!

After a wonderful session with the children at TYO, the end of the session brings the challenge of saying goodbye. Saying goodbye to the students is never easy, especially after creating such a unique bond with them. As the end of each session comes closer, students start to reveal different emotions from attachment to the place and people including sadness from not being able to see each other every day. These feelings are quickly reversed once the teachers inform their students that they will see each other next session!

During our Winter 2018 session, we were able to open two classrooms for returning Core students. The parents were excited because they knew how deeply their children were attached to TYO and the teachers and how eager the children were to return to TYO! As for the Core teachers, they were incredibly happy to know that they would be seeing so many familiar faces.

On the first day of the session, it was no surprise to see the returning four and five year olds with big smiles and opened arms! To celebrate the first day, TYO arranged a day full of fun by bringing in inflatable bouncy games! Upon seeing these games, the children were surprised, thrilled, and excited to start playing!

Core teacher Shireen shared her thoughts and feelings on having the students return for another session at TYO. Shireen stated, "One of the best experiences in life is being able to give to others and draw a smile on their faces, particularly children. Through numerous experiences with children you always discover that everyday gives you a chance to not only teach, but also learn from the children surrounding you. Children always start off feeling nervous and scared when coming to a new place they have never been exposed to. Day after day, they become more comfortable and connected as this new place becomes a part of their lives. It feels amazing when we have returning students as it allows you to see the impact you left on them. They come back following the same set of rules you taught them from the first encounter with them. I strongly believe that children constantly require strong mentors to guide them in a proper and healthy manner which allows them to strive."

As TYO is a safe space for children to learn, grow, and explore who they are and what makes them special. It is with no doubt that giving children a place that is steady and positive in their lives plays an essential and positive role on their mental and emotional wellness. That's why at TYO it never really is goodbye, it's see you later!

Futoon is reaching the top with TYO!
Futoon is reaching the top with TYO!
Jan 23, 2018

Special Products for Your Special Day

My name is Wafa'a, and I am from Tulkarem. Through my business, "Wafa Collection, "I make and sell handmade accessories, wedding favors, bridal bouquets, and dresses for young girls. My target market is primarily young women. Growing up, one of the things I enjoyed most was creating handmade products out of materials available around my home, and over time I became more skilled and talented in this field. However, it wasn't until I joined the Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs (APWE) project in 2015 that I learned how I could turn my pastime into a business. APWE put me on my path to run the successful business that I have today.

 

Before joining the project, I would sometimes make products and offer them for free to friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to observe their reaction and improve on my work. When I noticed how positive their reactions were, I made the decision to start my own business. I started off by creating an official social media page to promote my work through photos. The issue was that I had a number of interested customers whose needs and requests I could not satisfy, and I knew that I needed more formal training to improve my business and customer relations.

 

Through APWE, I have learned so many new helpful business practices. I have learned how to be detail-oriented and account for every step in the process of selling one of my products, from initial communication with customer, through production, until delivery and receiving their feedback. I’ve realized how helpful and important it is to develop a formal business, marketing, and financial plan to experiment with new techniques and then have the tools to evaluate how my business is doing.

 

In addition, previously I had been sending my products to a tailor to complete the finishing because my finishing and sewing skills were not strong enough, and that significantly increased the cost of my products. I learned through APWE that making a small investment in improving my own product finishing techniques could help me reduce the cost and production time for my products greatly. Through the mentorships, I was paired with a talented tailor. Over four days, I learned how to do proper finishing on products as diverse as purses, wallets, hair accessories, and scarves. I’ve started to implement these new skills with my products, and I am extremely satisfied with the results.

 

APWE has also boosted my confidence. While showcasing my products at the Entrepreneur and More exhibition, I felt so proud of myself and what I had accomplished in the previous year. Many customers praised my work for its quality and good taste. After the exhibition, many more orders started coming in through my official business Facebook page. I think that having the opportunity to interact in person with customers at the exhibition increased their trust and confidence in me as a business woman who cares about their needs.

 

Recently, I had the opportunity to sell my products in six different shops. Three of these shops submit regular requests for about 50-100 products per month, and the other three request products based upon their need and current supply. I can already see how much Wafa Collection is going to improve in the coming years. It was difficult at first without the right support system and knowledge around me, but having the opportunity to learn new business practices in APWE gave me the mindset and skills to succeed. Now I know that I can achieve anything with the right skills, knowledge, and trust in myself.

 
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