Support 20 Female Entrepreneurs

by Tomorrow's Youth Organization Vetted since 2009 Site Visit Verified
Introducing Ma
Introducing Ma'ali!

Ma’ali is a pharmacist who studied at An-Najah National University. She is married and has two children. Despite her studies, Ma’ali does not work in pharmaceuticals and has been working at a money exchange store for 9 years. As Ma’ali’s eldest son began to grow up, she realized that he was incredibly intelligent and that his cognitive abilities far exceeded any educational tools available in Palestine. Both Ma’ali and her son endured a very difficult period, as her son was not challenged in school and developed behavioural problems. Conversely, it was evident early in his development that Ma’ali’s second son had a learning disability. Ultimately, Ma’ali was confronted with the same problem as with her eldest son; there were no educational tools for her second son that would address his cognitive needs. Ma’ali decided to find a solution to meet the educational needs of her children. She began attending conferences and workshops to meet teachers, psychologists, and social workers to inquire about the types of educational tools required for both disabled and advanced students. Ma’ali began to develop multi-level books and games for children who fall on a wide range of the learning spectrum.

Ma’ali first learned about the Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs project (APWE) at the Tulkarem Rural Women’s Association. Ma’ali joined APWE because she is a new entrepreneur and wants to learn how to operate her business well and widen her business networks. Because Ma’ali studied pharmacy, she had no experience creating a business or financial plan. Through APWE, she learned how to price products correctly, how to balance income and expenses, and how to use business and financial plans to create new business connections. Additionally, she learned how to create a market research study and how to target customers and identify market needs. Through marketing and branding training, Ma’ali better understood the importance of an authentic logo and how it can be fundamental to business success.

Ma'ali greatly benefited from the business plan she developed with APWE and used it both to introduce her business to new partners and to participate in competitions. She participated in the Pioneers of Palestine program with non-profit organization Synergos and had the opportunity to attend a number of additional business training focused on fundraising, legal advice, and human development. In October 2017, Ma'ali registered her business with the Chamber of Commerce after learning how important this was to expand her business further!

In the future, Ma'ali hopes to produce hard copies of her educational tools, including kits for science and a series of educational books and puzzles for children with learning disabilities. She also wishes to open a learning centre for children to help them understand school curricula using different approaches.

My name is Wafa'a, and I am from Tulkarem. Through my business, "Wafa Collection, "I make and sell handmade accessories, wedding favors, bridal bouquets, and dresses for young girls. My target market is primarily young women. Growing up, one of the things I enjoyed most was creating handmade products out of materials available around my home, and over time I became more skilled and talented in this field. However, it wasn't until I joined the Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs (APWE) project in 2015 that I learned how I could turn my pastime into a business. APWE put me on my path to run the successful business that I have today.

 

Before joining the project, I would sometimes make products and offer them for free to friends, neighbors, and acquaintances to observe their reaction and improve on my work. When I noticed how positive their reactions were, I made the decision to start my own business. I started off by creating an official social media page to promote my work through photos. The issue was that I had a number of interested customers whose needs and requests I could not satisfy, and I knew that I needed more formal training to improve my business and customer relations.

 

Through APWE, I have learned so many new helpful business practices. I have learned how to be detail-oriented and account for every step in the process of selling one of my products, from initial communication with customer, through production, until delivery and receiving their feedback. I’ve realized how helpful and important it is to develop a formal business, marketing, and financial plan to experiment with new techniques and then have the tools to evaluate how my business is doing.

 

In addition, previously I had been sending my products to a tailor to complete the finishing because my finishing and sewing skills were not strong enough, and that significantly increased the cost of my products. I learned through APWE that making a small investment in improving my own product finishing techniques could help me reduce the cost and production time for my products greatly. Through the mentorships, I was paired with a talented tailor. Over four days, I learned how to do proper finishing on products as diverse as purses, wallets, hair accessories, and scarves. I’ve started to implement these new skills with my products, and I am extremely satisfied with the results.

 

APWE has also boosted my confidence. While showcasing my products at the Entrepreneur and More exhibition, I felt so proud of myself and what I had accomplished in the previous year. Many customers praised my work for its quality and good taste. After the exhibition, many more orders started coming in through my official business Facebook page. I think that having the opportunity to interact in person with customers at the exhibition increased their trust and confidence in me as a business woman who cares about their needs.

 

Recently, I had the opportunity to sell my products in six different shops. Three of these shops submit regular requests for about 50-100 products per month, and the other three request products based upon their need and current supply. I can already see how much Wafa Collection is going to improve in the coming years. It was difficult at first without the right support system and knowledge around me, but having the opportunity to learn new business practices in APWE gave me the mindset and skills to succeed. Now I know that I can achieve anything with the right skills, knowledge, and trust in myself.

Entrepreneur In
Entrepreneur In'am visits the TYO Center in Nablus

In’am was born and raised in Jamaa'en, Nablus. She studied mathematics at An-Najah National University and has been working with the Jamaa'en Governmental Municipality for over nine years. In'am needed an additional source of income and decided to transform her long time hobby into a sustainable business.  With the money she saved from her job at the municipality, In’am decided to purchase three calves. Initially, she focused her business strictly on the process of fattening and selling her calves. In’am would buy the calves when they are one-week old, feed them for six to eight months, and sell them once they weigh 300 kilograms. As In’am generated her first profit, she used it to purchase more calves.

In’am’s interest in Tomorrow’s Youth Organization’s entrepreneur program for women was sparked when representatives from TYO visited the Jamaa'en Women’s Association to present the project and recruit entrepreneurs from her village. While In’am had been running an effective, profitable business, there was always a chaotic element. She had never created a business plan and had only operated her business on a day-to-day basis. She needed assistance to identify the source of the chaos and address it.

When the training began, In’am was eager to learn how to develop a business plan. She learned how to develop sound and comprehensive business, marketing, and financial plans. During financial planning training, she began to understand the purpose behind documenting all of expenses and income of the business. She also learned through psychosocial training that she must document the money spent paying family for their labor as an expense. Through the Idea Sourcing and Product Development Learning Module, In’am learned creative ways to increase her business’s profit. The process of fattening and selling calves takes approximately eight months, resulting in profit generation every eight months. After the Idea Sourcing and Product Development training, In’am purchased cows in order to make milk and cheese and generate a more consistent profit stream. Through the Small Enterprise Center's (SEC) marketing training, she also learned to strategically pick a market and customer base where there is minimal competition. After Ina'am's participation in the Entrepreneur and More exhibition, she was able to expand her customer base. Now not only does she have customers in Jamaa'en, she also has a market in Nablus and its surrounding villages. Her customers constantly show their satisfaction of Ina'am's products and continue to order dairy products on a regular basis.

In’am’s business is her primary focus in life. She believes in taking risks, loves the action her business brings to her life, and is fully confident that if and when she takes risks, she will succeed. In'am started her business three years ago with only three calves, but she now owns eight cows and three calves. In the future, In'am hopes to further expand her business by buying additional calves and cows which will enable her to increase her productivity. She hopes her products will become nationally well-known and sold in every supermarket in Palestine. In’am’s work is historically categorized as “man’s work” and she could not be more proud to take the proverbial bull by the horns and break the sector’s glass ceiling in her village.

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."  

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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Organization Information

Tomorrow's Youth Organization

Location: McLean, VA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.tomorrowsyouth.org
Project Leader:
Suhad Jabi
Director, Tomorrow's Youth Organization
McLean, VA United States

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