B’edaya (Arabic for “with my own hands”) has gained sustainability in 2012 as the culture of entrepreneurship has spread from training workshops for widowed mothers into the very culture of 400 village-based volunteers who visit the homes of orphaned families.
So what does that mean? Here’s an example that should show how the effects of B’edaya are spreading beyond its implementation periods.
In the village of Deir Reefa in Assuit, village volunteer Mariam was a part of B’edaya during the 2011 cycle. Since then, she has kept her eyes open to find widowed mothers with the greatest potential to generate their own income.
One of those was Hala. Through a Coptic Orphans partnership with the local NGO, Assuit Businessman’s Association, Mariam connected Hala to micro-credit grant funds beyond the B’edaya budget in her area.
Hala got a loan for 1,000 Egyptian pounds to start a convenience store in her village. There were other stores in her area, but because of her strong relationships with others and shrewd eye for scouting deals around the village to create a wide-ranging inventory, she was able to overcome the stiff competition and attract more customers than the stores around her.
At the beginning, she began by selling candy bars and staples such as soap, sugar, and tea. Eventually, she was able to buy a refrigerator and freezer that enabled her to add meats to her stock. She also started selling rice, pasta, phone cards, and oil to the village.
Hala has paid back her loan in full, and now has 3,000 Egyptian pounds in capital. Her income ranges between 400- 500 pounds every month, compared to the standard Government widow pension of 13 pounds, on which she struggled to feed her family before.
The most remarkable thing is that she has done all of this within nine months.
In a village culture that expects widows to wear black and stay at home, she has become a highly visible example of an industrious, independent business woman not only among other widows, but to all the women of her village.