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Jul 27, 2017

Meera Soap - The Path from National to Internation

It is with no doubt that starting a business comes with many different challenges. For Palestinian female entrepreneurs, starting a business in Palestine means overcoming a number of difficulties such as limited access to financial assistance, restriction of movement imposed by military occupation, and gender based stereotypesAs a way of addressing this issue TYO runs a female entrepreneurship program, in hopes of elevating the position of women entrepreneurs in the Palestinian economy.

We are proud to introduce Howaida, the founder of Meera Soap and one of our hardworking female entrepreneurs at TYO! Howaida spent the majority of her career working in production and manufacturing in soap factories in and around Nablus. In 2011, she decided to take the skills she had acquired and start crafting her own products.

Howaida shared with TYO's Women's Empowerment Program Coordinator her experience as an ascending female entrepreneur in Palestine and her steps to gradually growing her business in hopes of encouraging fellow female entrepreneurs

"My name is Huwaida and I created Meera Soap, a soap business named after my daughter. I make soap from olive oil, honey, goat milk, cacao, salt, and lavender. Whenever a customer wants to order soap with a specific product, I happily make it for them!

This project not only gave me additional business management skills, but it has provided me with confidence to proudly state my mission and achieve my goals. To help grow and legitimize my business, I registered with the Chamber of Commerce and opened a bank account with Bank of Palestine.

Registration with the Chamber of Commerce is a critical step for any entrepreneur who is serious about business. I highly recommend registration to up and coming businesswomen. Registration with the Chamber of Commerce allows me to apply to sell my products across borders and also allows me to use official channels to import and export products for my business. Additionally, a business appears more legitimate and trustworthy to customers and other business people when registered with the Chamber of Commerce. Registering has also given me more confidence and allows me to tap into my personal power as a Palestinian woman entrepreneur.

I also opened an account with Bank of Palestine. When working with international customers, I will be viewed as professional because they can transfer payment directly to my bank account as opposed to through Western Union or money gram.

My business and experiences continue to expand day by day. I recently purchased two beehives with a business partner. He is keeping the bees and we are sharing the honey. I am making soap from my own honey now! In January 2017, I had the opportunity to participate in a five-day bazaar held in Amman, Jordan. I was able to showcase my handmade Palestinian soap products to many new customers, grow my business network, and access a new international market. I am currently expanding my business to reach additional markets overseas. My products have been sold in England, America, Germany, and Jordan, and I am in the process of reaching both Denmark and United Arab Emirates. Hopefully one day Meera Soap becomes a worldwide brand."  

Jun 8, 2017

Water Balloons and Laughter in the Spring

TYO student Yoseph holds his water balloon.
TYO student Yoseph holds his water balloon.

Summer is finally here! Students are wrapping up their exams at school and kids too young for school will finally get to spend more time with their siblings as students exchange classrooms and school books for playtime and soccer balls.

The beginning of summer also signifies the end of a very successful Spring session here at TYO! During our Spring program, TYO’s team of 6 local teachers, 4 international interns, and 62 local volunteers provided early childhood and afterschool educational programming for 264 children! During the 13 week program (February 20- May 18), students had the opportunity to learn, play, and grow together.

As the weather turned from Spring to Summer at the end of the session, one of the students’ favorite activities always involves cooling off with a bit of water. TYO teacher Ahmad developed water activities to help the students increase their teamwork, improve motor skills, and embrace the needs to move and play outside. The sound of the children’s laughter filled the center as they splashed and cheered their teammates toward victory!

At TYO, a child’s right to a childhood is front and center of the educational experience. The joy of feeling cool water splash while filling a bottle using only a small cup or the anticipation of catching a water balloon as your partner steps further away are simple activities that bring smiles to the children’s faces. As each class cheered for their teammates, the freedom of full volume laughs and frequency of high fives being handed out was contagious. The teachers and volunteers laughed, splashed, and cheered right along with their students.

The support provided by donors impact the students, the local volunteers, the local teachers, and the international interns as they share moments of freedom together. As the summer continues and water becomes the vehicle of relief, think of us and imagine hearing students’ laughter and cheers through your windows and relish the feeling of water on your toes. The simple joys in life and childhood in the summer unites us all.

Students Hoor &Yasmine smile with their balloons.
Students Hoor &Yasmine smile with their balloons.
Teacher Ahmad plays balloon toss with his students
Teacher Ahmad plays balloon toss with his students
Water relay races are challenging, but fun!
Water relay races are challenging, but fun!
Student Zain smiles as he runs to fill the bottle.
Student Zain smiles as he runs to fill the bottle.

Links:

May 1, 2017

A Common Vision for Palestinian Entrepreneurs

Main Speakers in Entrepreneurs Symposium
Main Speakers in Entrepreneurs Symposium

A Common Vision for Palestinian Entrepreneurs

This was the headline in Ramallah last month where stakeholders from 80 different sectors including local government, national government, embassies, financial institutions, the chamber of commerce, NGO's, Universities, and many others gathered to discuss the strategy for the way forward.

Some of the findings the panel shared to help define the strategy:

·         Only 19% of women in the workforce, of those only 4% are entrepreneurs

·         90% of women’s income goes directly to support their families’ education and nutrition for children

·         unemployment is extremely high for women when compared to men

One of the leading financial institutions in Palestine,  Asalah Center or Credit and Development, shared findings from their recent 2017 study:

·         Women don’t have access or rights to resources:

o    29% of women are landowners

o   10% own houses

o   4.5% of the agricultural fields are owned by women.

·         Unfair practices in social inheritance and culture stifles women’s independence.

o   Women are accepted to work because of dire economic need, not because it is deemed an equal right

·         61% of women work in the non official sectors and there is no protection for them as labor laws and regulations do not apply

At the end of the panel, recommendations were as follows:

·         Encourage legal registration for the businesses, Government must move forward to adjust laws and regulations.

·         Achieve higher involvement for business women in the organized sector and create a better networking between them and the business sector, Provide entrepreneur women with motivational packages.

·         Establishment of social security fund for entrepreneur women.

·         Donors must support projects and women business through loans and grants as well as build their capacities.

·         Joint effort for best practices.

·         Mobilization and advocacy.

·         Study women needs in refugee camps.

 
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