Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan

by Near East Foundation (NEF)
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan
Support Small Entrepreneurs in Lebanon & Jordan

Many Syrian refugees, like Fatima and her family, left successful businesses behind to ensure their safety and find peace. The struggle to gain their footing and rebuild their life begins the minute they enter their host country and continues for many years after. It is in this complex landscape that NEF is working to help both vulnerable host community and refugee families find safe and sustainable opportunities to earn an income and achieve economic stability.

From the hallway outside of Fatima’s apartment, you can hear a cheerful symphony of chirps coming from within. Prior to 2012, these chirps would have been coming from the chicken farm that she and her husband ran for more than 15 years in their homeland of Syria. Now, with her husband’s health failing, Fatima and her son have developed a small chicken hatchery operation that consists of a large incubator in their family’s kitchen and a tiny coop for newly born chicks out on their apartment balcony.

“We moved to Lebanon because of the war in 2012,” Fatima explains. Initially, they spent some time in a refugee camp and this is where Fatima was introduced to NEF’s livelihoods program that pairs business development training, ongoing mentoring, and a cash grant to help refugees and vulnerable Lebanese launch income-generating activities.

With her prior knowledge about raising chickens but little business acumen, Fatima enthusiastically pursued the business training which allowed her to develop a feasibility study and business plan. The trainings also offered a much needed safe haven after the trauma of fleeing their home in Syria and starting over in a new place.

“I went to the training and the smile came back to my face again. While I was following the training, I felt that I could socialize again and that it was a real possibility to run a small business and support my husband and family.”
Fatima’s plan was deemed viable and she was approved to receive an $850 grant. “Before receiving the grant of $850 I thought it was a gimmick until I went to Liban-post and cashed the money,” she says.

Fatima is now earning an average of over $300 per month from the hatchery. Before starting this activity she says, “My daily income was less than $5 per day in aid through the Lebanese cash consortium, which was recently discontinued.”

“I had the chance to attend another training with NEF on how to dry fruits,” Fatima said. Explaining the importance of these type of opportunities she continued, “I am the only provider for the household because my husband’s disability and inability to work.”

While Fatima feels that the help she received from NEF changed her life she remains concerned about being able to continue the growth of her business without additional start-up funds. In addition to the education and cash assistance she says what has stuck with her the most was, “the treatment and respect we had at Siraj Center was the best since we came to Lebanon and this, this gave us hope again.”

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

There is no couch or television to furnish the lounge room of Hanane’s small home in Chtaura, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Instead, two second-hand barbers’ chairs, mirrors and a few purposefully placed shelves have transformed the room into a modest version of the beauty salon the 27-year-old, mother of two, owned and managed in Damascus.

Resourceful and determined, Hanane, like many Syrian refugees, is the sole income earner for her family. But when she arrived in Lebanon she struggled, “I was depressed. I was devastated about losing my salon in Syria and didn’t feel I could start again.”

Participating in NEF’s livelihoods project gave Hanane the skills and confidence to return to work. Coupled with a start-up grant, opening a salon became a reality. “I started with a few clients, friends and neighbors, and then I put a sign in the dollar shop. I rely on word of mouth, and now I am known in the neighborhood as ‘Hanane, the Hairdresser’.”

A year after re-launching her salon, Hanane’s entrepreneurial spirit and business has grown. She attended an advanced business training course, received a business expansion grant, and has developed her concept to meet the needs of her clients. “I now offer my bridal customers a whole package. I can do their hair, makeup and nails and they can rent a dress with a veil, even a music speaker.”

Reflecting on her achievements, Hanane is satisfied, but still making plans. “My life is different. Everything has changed. I am generating an income for my family. Hopefully, I will be able to take up a shop and move the salon out of the house.”

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Hanane in her in-home salon.
Hanane in her in-home salon.

There is no couch or television to furnish the lounge room of Hanane’s small home in Chtaura, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Instead, two second-hand barbers’ chairs, mirrors and a few purposefully placed shelves have transformed the room into a modest version of the beauty salon the 27-year-old, mother of two, owned and managed in Damascus.

Resourceful and determined, Hanane, like many Syrian refugees, is the sole income earner for her family. But when she arrived in Lebanon she struggled, “I was depressed. I was devastated about losing my salon in Syria and didn’t feel I could start again.”

Participating in NEF’s livelihoods project gave Hanane the skills and confidence to return to work. Coupled with a start-up grant, opening a salon became a reality. “I started with a few clients, friends and neighbors, and then I put a sign in the dollar shop. I rely on word of mouth, and now I am known in the neighborhood as ‘Hanane, the Hairdresser’.”

A year after re-launching her salon, Hanane’s entrepreneurial spirit and business has grown. She attended an advanced business training course, received a business expansion grant, and has developed her concept to meet the needs of her clients. “I now offer my bridal customers a whole package. I can do their hair, makeup and nails and they can rent a dress with a veil, even a music speaker.”

Reflecting on her achievements, Hanane is satisfied, but still making plans. “My life is different. Everything has changed. I am generating an income for my family. Hopefully, I will be able to take up a shop and move the salon out of the house.”

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Rashedeh in her tailoring shop
Rashedeh in her tailoring shop

When Alzheimer’s rendered her father unable to care for himself, Rashedeh left her job as a seamstress to be his full-time caregiver. After his passing a few years ago, Rashedeh was devastated by the loss, and felt lost about how to shape the next phase of her life. Logistically, she knew that the minimal government assistance they were receiving would be discontinued, and she needed to do something to provide for her family.

Rashedeh, a Palestinian Jordanian, grew up and still resides in a predominantly Palestinian settlement near the city of Irbid. She lives with her sister and niece and is their sole provider since the death of their brother a number of years back. Rashedeh started out as a seamstress when she was just a child to support the household and became incredibly skilled. She continued the work for thirty years, until her father became ill. Throughout those years, she experienced low pay and poor working conditions, enduring extremely long days without breaks. Resentful of this mistreatment by employers, Rashedeh hesitated to return to a tailoring operation following her father’s death.

DSC_6738-2

It was Rashedeh’s sister that told her about NEF’s Siraj Center, which is walking distance from her home. This Siraj Center is one of four hubs that NEF has established in Jordan to provide refugees and vulnerable Jordanians with access to training, counseling, and critical information to find jobs, start businesses, and improve their physical and mental well-being. Rashedeh’s family encouraged her to go to the Center to boost her spirits and see what opportunities might be available.

After her first visit, Rashedeh learned that she qualified to participate in NEF’s business development training. Having only attended school until the seventh grade, Rashedeh cannot read or write well, so a friend was invited to accompany her and help her through the training. With the knowledge she gained, Rashedeh developed a comprehensive plan for a tailoring business, which was quickly approved to receive a project grant for 650 JOD (915 USD) to get started. She purchased two types of sewing machines to get established, and now says she feels confident in her ability to deal with customers, register her business, market her services, and calculate pricing and costs.

Already having a reputation as a skilled seamstress in her community, Rashedeh developed a client-base quickly, offering a full spectrum of services including tailoring, repurposing, mending, and producing original designs. She has become known for making yanis, a popular prayer dresses for youth, which is now sought out by many clients. 

With the steady increase in clients, Rashedeh has been able to hire a couple of family members to help her meet demand. Having worked in many poorly run sewing shops, Rashedeh stresses the importance of providing a happy and healthy working environment so her employees “enjoy coming to work every day.”

IMG_2136-2

Because of the progress she’s made with establishing her business, Rashedeh was selected to participate in NEF’s advanced business development training, after which she received another 160 JOD (225 USD) to support its continued growth. With these additional funds, she made simple but valuable investments in supplies like fabric (including wool to prepare winter clothes), better sewing cutters, and lamps to improve the lighting in the sewing room. 

Rashedeh is now making more than 300 JOD (423 USD) per month, which covers her expenses and leaves her with 100 JOD (141 USD) per month for savings. She feels that she now has a clear vision for the future and hopes to eventually expand to a larger working space, as well as produce more original clothing designs for weddings and other formal events. 

Rashedeh revealed that her participation in NEF’s project gave her a sense of direction and purpose during a very difficult time in her life. She says she feels productive every day, confident in her abilities, and less stressed because she earns a good income and can “manage my own time and ideas.” She loves her busy life and what she does and says, “when I think of NEF, I smile.”

While NEF was visiting with Rashedeh, two of her clients came to pick up their orders who have also attended NEF’s business development training at the local Siraj Center after hearing about it from Rashedeh. They have both gone on to launch businesses as well (one selling birds, and the other also does tailoring.)

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

DSC_6147_edit

A large craft area now consumes the family room in Asma’s home. The table is cluttered with colorful fabrics, threads, candles, and patterns and drawing for new designs. Asma carefully crafts her newest creation, while her children prepare for their next trip to the local bazaar. By all accounts, Asma’s life looks happily busy and secure—but it’s been a difficult road to get to this point.

Asma grew up in the outskirts of Amman, married young, and gave birth to five children in quick succession: three boys and two girls. Life as she knew it changed dramatically when her husband unexpectedly passed away and Asma found herself entirely responsible for providing for five children. They had accumulated little to no savings and with only having a 10th-grade education Asma felt at a loss as to how she could support her family. To meet immediate needs, Asma took out a loan but found that she was only qualified to receive 200 JOD – her rent alone was 175 JOD. If her family were to safely survive their deteriorating situation, Asma knew she needed to find a way to earn a steady income.

Asma always had a special talent for creating toys for her children out of old or broken items around the house so thought why not turn this skill into an income. Asma immediately started to test her abilities—challenging herself to repurpose old items not only into toys but also into new household trinkets and accessories.

While her products improved, Asma still lacked the knowledge and guidance on how to turn her creations into a profitable business. After seeking help from the Ministry of Development in Jordan, Asma was referred to one of NEF’s Siraj Centers near her home and qualified to attend a business development training there.

On the first day of the training, she decided to bring some of her merchandise so she could showcase her business idea and test her products. The other women at NEF’s Siraj Center were so impressed that she actually ended up selling everything she brought that day. Asma felt encouraged by their warmth and support and felt she had finally found a place that would help her turn her life around.

With help from the training, Asma developed a formal business plan and was awarded a cash grant to help her buy the supplies she needed to improve the quality and increase the number of her products. She described NEF’s training as “the starting point of her life.” She went on to explain that through the training she was able to learn how to correctly price her items (taking into account the cost of her raw materials, time, and transportation to and from the bazaars) and deal with customers. Of equal importance to her was the sense of community she gained by being connected to such an encouraging group of women. She said that they continue to keep in touch, provide each other with support, and learn from one another.

Now remarried, Asma shares how supportive her family is of her business. Her eldest shared his pride in what his mother has accomplished saying that they have seen how hard she has worked to provide for them all these years which is why they want to support her work as much as they can. All of Asma’s children join her at each bazaar or craft festival she attends, helping her deal with customers and set up her display. Another one of her sons commented on how much he has learned about running a business from watching Asma, saying when he is old enough, he would like to take business classes like his mother took.

In the future, Asma hopes to expand by opening her own shop. She described NEF as a “shining star” that presented itself to her when she was most in need of help and went on to say, “I now am truly happy because I am financially secure and self-reliant.”

Because of the gratitude, Asma feels for being able to turn her life around, she now makes time for her family to do voluntary work so they can give back and provide hope to families who are struggling.

Thank you for your continued support of our work!

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Near East Foundation (NEF)

Location: Syracuse, NY - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Andrea Crowley
Syracuse, NY United States
$35,192 raised of $100,000 goal
 
185 donations
$64,808 to go
Donate Now
lock
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Near East Foundation (NEF) has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:
Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.