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, Sudan, Senegal, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Palestinian Territories and Egypt-where we work to directly improve the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable people through programs in peacebuilding, civic engagement, 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 o...
Jan 14, 2013

Funding Helps Agricultural Entrepreneurs Grow

In 2012, the Near East Foundation continued to support entrepreneurs and economic recovery in rural Armenia with the help of our local partners, Business Pareta and the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The entrepreneurs operate businesses ranging from retail shops to an expanding network of computer centers in rural villages.

We've also supported many agricultural entrepreneurs. Agriculture is an important source of income in Armenia. In recent years, it has been estimated that nearly half of the Armenian workforce is employed in agriculture.

Here are a few examples of rural Armenian entrepreneurs in the agricultural industry who received support in 2012 with the help of donors like you:

Viktor Badalyan is a beekeeper in the Vardenik Village, Gegharkunik Region. He launched his beekeeping business in 1992 and today it has grown to 100 families of bees. Not long ago, Viktor thought he would have to sell 20 of those families to pay for operational expenses. Losing the 20 families would mean a decrease in profits and hurt the business he has worked hard to grow. A loan from the project prevented him from having to sell the bees and is helping his business expand.

For four years, Hasmik Tirabyan has been breeding sheep on her land near Khashtarak Village, Tavush Region. She was able to increase her herd of 20 sheep by purchasing six additional sheep with a loan from the project. The added sheep increase both her production and income potential.

An entrepreneur who has been gardening since 2009, Vladimir Khocharyan cultivates 7.5 hectares near Vardenik Village, Gegharkunik Region. Within three years, he planted walnut trees on 7 of those hectares. He received a loan from the project, and is expanding his operation by planting apple, apricot, plum, and sweet cherry trees.    

Our investment in local entrepreneurs like these – in agriculture and in other industries – is supporting economic development in rural Armenia.

Your gift is helping entrepreneurs build strong businesses, create jobs, and contribute to the revitalization of their rural Armenian communities. Thank You! 

Links:

Nov 14, 2012

Families increase their incomes, more women will receive support to start small enterprises

Palestinian woman harvesting time
Palestinian woman harvesting time

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:

  • Identifying high potential businesses through regional economic assessments;
  • Developing micro-enterprise and business management skills;
  • Accessing micro-credit for micro-enterprise start-ups; and
  • Developing an enduring support system through micro-franchising and a women’s business support network.

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! 

Thyme growing in the field
Thyme growing in the field
Preparing the dried herbs
Preparing the dried herbs
A variety of herbs to sell at market
A variety of herbs to sell at market
A women-owned school canteen supported by NEF
A women-owned school canteen supported by NEF

Links:

Oct 14, 2012

13 New Businesses, Women Entrepreneurs Supported

Armenian entrepreneurs in their retail shop
Armenian entrepreneurs in their retail shop

NEF and its partners continue to help create and expand sustainable businesses that are boosting the local economy and creating new opportunities for rural Armenians. 

Since November 2011, 13 rural businesses have received financing from the partners’ startup fund. Today the businesses are operating and expanding successfully.

A lack of access to credit and finance prevents the rural poor - particularly women - from investing in the development of their communities, a crucial step to break the cycle of poverty.

Encouraging the development of women entrepreneurs is a specific focus of this project. In August 2012, a woman entrepreneur received 400,000 Armenian Drams ($980) in financing to increase the revolving funds in her clothing trade business in Gavar, Gegharkunik Marze. Two other women business owners have received support for their sheep breeding enterprise and souvenir shop, respectively.

In September 2012, an entrepreneur from Gandzak, Gegharkunik Marze received 300,000 Armenian Drams ($740) in financing to start a car repair center. 

The Zartnir computer center franchise launched by the project continues to operate and develop successfully. Within the next few months, the renovated Noratus center plans to add notebooks, net-books and pads to the selection of computers it offers for sale and service. The center is also making arrangements with banks to start selling computers on credit, which would make computer ownership affordable for more people. Another computer center located in the Geghhovit community is planning to move to a new site to upgrade its facility. 

Other small enterprises include agriculture, trade, and public services. Farmers in the Khashtarak village of Tavush Marze are engaged in cattle breeding. In the Vardenik community of Gegharkunik Marze, two beekeepers have produced 500 and 900 kg of honey respectively, and are expanding their businesses by increasing the number of bee families. One of the beekeepers increased the number of bee-families up to 20. 

These small businesses are generating income for entrepreneurs and their families. With loans - like the ones made available through this project - they can expand their businesses, provide more services to the community, support their families, and stimulate the local economy.

The Near East Foundation and its partners, Business Pareta and the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry, are planning to expand this pilot project based on its positive impact in rural Armenian communities.

Your support is improving livelihoods in rural Armenian villages. 

October 17th is a Bonus Day when Global Giving will match a portion of your gift. Please consider a donation to create economic opportunities for more rural Armenians. Thank you! 

Modern computer sales center in rural Armenia
Modern computer sales center in rural Armenia
Dried fruit producers in rural Armenia
Dried fruit producers in rural Armenia
 
   

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