Aug 11, 2014

Women Launch 73 New Businesses!

Ilham holds a tray of Mo
Ilham holds a tray of Mo'ajanat, a rolled pastry.

Ilham holds a tray of Mo’ajanat, a rolled pastry sweetened with dates, baked as part of her food processing business in the West Bank. With training, support, and startup grants from the Near East Foundation, women in the West Bank are developing professional business plans and launching businesses.

Through your generous support, women like Ilham have now launched over 73 new or expanded businesses in the West Bank. NEF provides participants with training in microenterprise development, offers support in the development of professional business plans, and helps to secure funding for new projects. 

Ilham first learned about NEF’s project through her local women’s association. Hoping to expand her baking business and gain new clients, she reached out to participate in the project .  With new skills from training sessions, a professional business plan, and financing, Ilham was able to invest in and expand her business.  She has seen much success in her expanded business, increasing her income and supporting her family.  

“Now not only can I buy raw materials and supplies, I also have money to pay for my personal needs and wants, and I can give my children daily pocket money,” Ilham said.

Learn more about Ilham’s story through this video.

The project’s support does not end after businesses are launched; NEF continues to provide ongoing monitoring and coaching to women entrepreneurs in their first years.  

While the work is ongoing, this month marks the end of our campaign on Global Giving.  Our work in the West Bank continues – and we hope that you will continue to follow our activities and the impact of our projects through our websiteFacebook page, or Twitter feed

THANK YOU for your ongoing support and for helping women like Ilham to grow their businesses, help their families achieve financial independence and benefit their community.  We hope that you will continue to follow NEF’s work! For more on Global Giving, consider NEF's work in rural Armenia. 


Jul 10, 2014

Armenian Survivor Takes the Cake with New Business

Mane's pakhlava and gata are sold in 4 stores

After nine years of abuse and harassment by her husband, Mane never imagined that she could find the power not only to stand-up for she and her kids but also to start her own business.  

But that’s exactly what happened after she went from a hospital to a women’s shelter where her life turned a corner. At the shelter, run by one of the Near East Foundation’s local partners, she learned about an initiative to help women survivors of domestic violence earn an income and become financially independent.

Mane shared her skills and love for baking with project leaders, who guided her in developing a business plan to produce cakes. Through business planning and management trainings, Mane acquired the skills she would need to be a successful entrepreneur. She also researched consumer demand in her area and learned that the products she hoped to offer were highly requested in the local market.

With start-up equipment and materials provided by NEF, Mane launched her business to great acclaim. She makes pakhlava and gata with a famous recipe from the Gavar Region for 4 different stores in Yerevan.

Mane beams when talking about her cakes and starting her own home-based business: ‘’The taste of my product is special; it is the best. This was my idea and the most important thing is that now I have business skills... Training helped me understand that I am able to work for myself and make an income for me and my children,’’ she said.

Because Mane’s cakes are so popular, more stores are requesting to sell them. Only a few weeks after launching her business, Mane is already planning to expand production volume to satisfy market demand.

This is exciting for Mane, who has used the $60 in income she earned so far to buy materials for production and still had some leftover to devote to her personal needs.

‘’Yes, now I am busy with my business and my favorite job. I like baking. This business helps me not only in getting financial sustainability and caring for my family, it also helps me forget the hard times I had to live through for so long.’’

Through her work with NEF’s entrepreneurship program, Mane is gradually recovering the energy, self-confidence, and motivation to work that she had lost during the difficult years in her abusive home. She continues to receive business mentoring from project leaders and is part of a social support network with other women survivors turned entrepreneurs.

Now she and her daughter live safely with her parents and, as her mom helps with the baking, Mane is beginning to take a leadership role in supporting her entire family.

THANK YOU for supporting this critical work to help women survivors of domestic violence in Armenia gain skills and earn an income so they can build a new life for their families!

Jul 10, 2014

Farmers Improve Livelihoods and Invest in Communit

The Acacia Senegal tree grows in Sudan’s North Kordofan State and produces a resin known as gum arabic--a major ingredient in paint, glue, cosmetics, and many other products used everyday all over the world. Sudan is one of the world’s biggest producers of gum arabic with 20% percent of Sudan’s population making their living from its cultivation.

With the generous support from donors like you, the Near East Foundation’s (NEF) project in Sudan’s North Kordofan State has had considerable impact on gum arabic production and has helped farmers better provide for their families and invest in their communities. 

NEF has helped gum arabic cultivators empower themselves by providing them with access to micro-credit, business training, Acacia seeds and seedlings, as well as training workshops on how to maximize gum yields while preserving local Acacia woodlands.

With the gum arabic farming communities on stronger footing, this month marks the end of our campaign on Global Giving.  Our work in Sudan and with gum arabic farmers continues – and we hope that you will continue to follow our activities and the impact of our projects through our websiteFacebook page, or Twitter feed

We thank you for your unstinting support for vulnerable farming families in Sudan’s North Kordofan State, and leave you with a few highlights of the impact of your donation. These are just a few of the many successes of the project:

  • Sudanese farmers who participated in trainings increased their average income from 200 SDG to 900 SDG per month – that is nearly $120 USD per month!
  • Farmers in Sudan received 5,000 Acacia Senegal tree seedlings from the Near East Foundation (NEF) with an aim to safeguard the future of an important source of income
  • NEF facilitated the distribution of seeds to 225 farmers in North Kordofan.  Each farmer received 1 pound of seeds—enough to cultivate 9 acres of land; NEF provided 150 tree seeds to each farmer in the project
  • NEF conducted training workshops for over 425 members of Gum Arabic Producer Associations in Sudan at which farmers gained knowledge and had the opportunity to see the impact of the project’s activities first hand through tours of local farms and communities where improved gum arabic management techniques have been put into practice
  • NEF held meetings to explain to communities the importance of protecting Acacia trees, and also worked with Sudan's National Forest Corporation to set new rules and procedures for protecting the trees
  • Farmers received a full range of technical support, including how to determine the best locations to plant, instruction in more efficient harvesting techniques, and guidance in improved storage of the gum arabic (to maintain high quality until it reaches the market) 

Those who have benefited perhaps best express the impact of your donation:

“With the support of the Near East Foundation, I have learned new ways to increase my income and improve my family’s well-being through gum arabic, agriculture, and micro-credit projects,” said Mahdi, a gum arabic farmer from Sudan’s North Kordofan State. “We have also learned the value of gum arabic trees and the importance of protecting this resource.” 

THANK YOU!!!  Your generous support has allowed NEF to work with communities in Sudan to build sustainable solutions that will benefit community members for years to come.  We hope that you will continue to follow NEF’s work! For more on Global Giving, consider NEF's work in rural Armenia. 


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