Support 20 Female Entrepreneurs

by Tomorrow's Youth Organization
Entrepreneur Amna leads a discussion in a seminar
Entrepreneur Amna leads a discussion in a seminar

In our last update, we shared that this year, we began supporting the newest group of Palestinian women entrepreneurs. We began with intensive psychosocial trainings and thanks to your support, TYO has been able to empower these women and their emerging businesses through technical trainings. Working in partnership with the Small Enterprise Center in Ramallah, TYO has been working with entrepreneurs from the Northern West Bank to help develop their business plans, expand their business networks and scale up their businesses. Meet TYO's 15 newest entrepreneurs:

Amna, Ibda’ [Creation] Embroidery

Amna has been producing her embroidery pieces from her home since 2005. She dreams of one day owning a shop that will provide enough space for her to purchase and store the necessary machinery for Ibda' Embroidery. She is always on the lookout for a modern take on traditional Palestinian embroidery and has incorporated the craft into wedding attire and the uniforms of Dabke (a traditional Palestinian dance) troupes in Jenin. 

Falesteen, Play and Learn Educational Tools 

While working towards her Bachelor’s degree in Education at Al Qud’s Open University, Falesteen turned a class project into a business idea. For a final project at university, Falasteen created an educational tool that utilized play as the main component of learning. Falesteen also volunteers with TYO’s early childhood educational program. Working with the target audience of her business provides her with continuous inspiration and concepts for future product ideas. 

Fathia, Al Baylasan Handmade Palestinian Embroidery

Fathia has created embroidery products for over 30 years. As a university student, she would produce embroidery pieces to be sold at events to support fellow classmates with special needs as well as those with financial difficulties. In Nablus, Fathia, with her family’s financial support, established one of the first embroidery shops in the city. Unfortunately, as the economic situation deteriorated in northern Palestine during the second Intifada, so did Fathia’s business. In 2003, after operating for five years, she was forced to close her doors. This did not discourage Fathia’s passion for embroidery. For the past decade, Fathia has continued to embroider clothing to sell to her family, friends, and community through her Facebook page and at local exhibitions. 

Fida', Happy Kids-Nazlet Zeid Preschool 

Fida’, comes from Ya’bad, a small village 20 km west of Jenin, Palestine. In 2009, with the construction of the separation wall and expansion of nearby settlements, the village became increasingly isolated. That’s when Fida’, realizing the need for a safe place for children to learn and play, opened up the first preschool in the area. With land donated by the community and a grant from the Palestinian Businesswomen’s Association, Asala, Fida’ was able to turn the space into an operational preschool. Once complete, Happy Kids-Nazlet Zeid Preschool became formally recognized by the Ministry of Education in Jenin. Now children from four neighboring villages also attend the preschool.

Jinan, Needle and Thread 

Jinan learned the tradition of embroidery as a hobby when she was a child. In 2000, Jinan created Needle and Thread with the savings she accumulated from working at a sewing factory in high school and her early adult years to create embroidered household items such as pillows and lampshades. What makes Jinan’s pieces different is that she uses nontraditional Palestinian colors and designs in her products. She is now taking it a step further by incorporating embroidery with crocheting to produce baby clothing.

Khalidah, [Business name TBD]

Khalidah aspires to one day have her own plus-size clothing line. The idea began a couple years ago as a hobby after attending a training course at Shami Textile Center. In order to buy materials to start producing pieces, she collected on debt that was owed from friends and family. The few dollars she occasionally leant out to family members added up over the years. Although it is still in the idea phase, Khalidah has begun producing plus-size women’s clothing by recycling traditional sized garments and evaluates their market potential to further improve her craft.

Lina, Hikayat Al Ward [The Story Of The Flower]

Lina began her business informally in her home three years ago. Soon after, she realized that there was much more to be learned in the field and began working at a florists’ shop. In September of 2014, Lina partnered with a fellow florist, who provided the financial backing, and opened a florist shop in Jenin, a city in northern Palestine. Competition is very high in Jenin, which is an agricultural area, so Lina began a service that allowed Palestinians living in countries outside of the West Bank a way to send flowers and gifts to family members for holidays and special occasions.  

Mai, Candles for Life

Mai decided to take on a for-profit business venture producing handmade candles. It was in her first year of studies that she realized how much she loved candles especially for decorative purposes. At the beginning, Mai produced her unique product by melting premade candles with different colors and scents and then molding them into different designs. After conducting online research, she learned how to make candles from raw materials and where to buy them.

Rafeef, Rafeef's Cuisine

Rafeef, has always been a talented chef in the kitchen. Friends and family compliment her food, often requesting one of her signature dishes for special occasions. She started catering at small events allowing her to earn enough money to expand on the idea and in 2012, Rafeef’s Cuisine was born. One day she aspires to have her own line of food products.

Rahma, Jannah Organic Foods

Due to the increased restrictions of movement in the northern West Bank over the years, the market for local foods decreased while import of processed foods increased. That’s when Rhama, who studied biology while at university, put her degree to use by making all-natural Palestinian foods such as lebnah, makdoos (eggplants stuffed with almonds), jams and zaatar, while providing an additional source of income for her family. In 2013, with around $300 saved up from holiday and birthday gifts over the years, she was able to start her own line of food products to sell at the local market.

Reema, Yaboos Soap

Reema fell in love with soap making after attending a few courses at a local women’s community center in her area. Many of the supplies necessary for production such as herbs, olive oil and honey were bountiful in her village. In 2013, after receiving a small grant from the Ma’an Development Center, Reema finally took the next step and started producing soap. She is still in the early phases of her business, selling small amounts at the local market.

Rola, Al Jana’ Rayan [Paradise Honey]

Rola was looking to do something outside of being a homemaker and took a course on honey production with Agricultural Relief in Tulkarem. Rola, who had saved money from birthdays and holidays over the years, purchased two beehives, which have now blossomed into 23. With the help of her neighbor she was able to store them on their land. As she started to produce profits from selling the honey, she repaid her neighbor’s favor by employing her. Through networking at events, she is now considering expanding her profession to include flower production.

Sa’eda, Al Marsa Industrial Tatreese

The idea of starting an industrial embroidery business began three years ago when Sa'eda recognized the market need. A custom designed embroidery piece can take several months if done by hand. By using an industrial machine to produce embroidery, it is quicker, cheaper and has a cleaner finish. Currently Sa’eda operates informally out of her home, producing handmade Palestinian embroidery pieces for friends and family. Once she is able to purchase the necessary machinery to industrially manufacture products, she intends to formally register her business with the Tulkarem Chamber of Commerce. 

Shurooq, Nawa’em Art

Originally from Nablus, Shurooq began creating stained glass home décor as a hobby over 12 years ago. While attending a local handcrafts course, the instructor, impressed with Shurooq’s artistry, began displaying her pieces for sale at the community center. She began selling her pieces in 2005 while attending additional classes to further develop her technique. In 2012, Shurooq even received a small loan from the Palestinian Businesswomen’s Association, Asala, to further her business venture.  

Solafa, Zaina [Decorative] Soap

Solafa was instantly drawn to the idea of making soap after attending a training course and she valued the concept of integrating the Palestinian tradition with natural resources, such as olive oil and lavender, which are readily available in her village. In September 2014, Solafa sold the gold jewelry that she no longer wears and bought the raw materials to begin producing soap. In addition to olive oil, which is common in many of the soaps made in the region, Solafa incorporates all natural ingredients that are known to have health and beauty benefits. Avocado oil, goat’s milk, mint leaves and cactus oil are just a few ingredients that are believed to have beneficial effects such as reducing wrinkles, treating acne and much more. 

Rafeef (Rafeef
Rafeef (Rafeef's Cuisine) displays her certificate
Small group discussion during the training
Small group discussion during the training

When we last checked in, we shared with you the exciting product launch of TYO's businesswomen. Marking the end of the incubation phase, each female entrepreneur was able to successfully launch her products, services, samples and marketing materials. Now, TYO is thrilled to announce that we have begun supporting even more Palestinian entrepreneurs this year!

The women were selected through a TYO-led outreach and application process. TYO conducted outreach through our partners and network throughout cities in the north – including universities, civil society organizations, and economic associations – to announce the training and invite aspiring women entrepreneurs to visit TYO’s center to complete an application.

To kick-off the support for the new entrepreneurs, TYO held a three-day intensive psychosocial training. The training brought together aspiring women entrepreneurs from across northern Palestine, with the goal of both empowering the women as entrepreneurs while also assessing their abilities, risk-taking levels, coping skills, and leadership potential as future entrepreneurs. As a part of this training, participants participated in individual self-assessment tests and engaged in small group activities and discussion.

TYO's Psychosocial Program Manager, Suhad Jabi, who conducted the training, shared several key findings. 

  • At first many of the entrepreneurs exhibited low self-esteem; despite the fact that they had overcome extremely difficult obstacles throughout their lives, many at first were unable to see this as a strength and therefore doubted their potential as entrepreneurs.
  • The training offered a platform where women were able to share many of their personal experiences and see that those were often shared by others. Over the course of the three days, we saw that this collective sharing of experiences gave the women an increasing sense of confidence, trust, security, and self-awareness, especially in terms of viewing their problems in a wider societal and cultural context.
  • Although there were some women who, at the end of the training, were still unable to view themselves as holding equal rights with men, they exhibited energy and drive to improve their situation by opening and growing their own business, with the goal being to help their family and meet their basic needs.

At TYO, we understand that in order for the entrepreneurs to succeed, follow up work with the women will require coaching on basic business skills as well as more direct and individual psychosocial intervention. Follow-up trainings will focus on further building the self-confidence of the women, both through increasing their knowledge base and by offering more platforms for the group to share their successes and challenges as women entrepreneurs.

At the end of the training, 40 women entrepreneurs were selected to participate in the training series. We look forward to keeping you updated on some of Palestine's newest entrepreneurs and the strides they're making to make their businesses become realities. Thank you so much for your continued support for women's empowerment in the Middle East! 

Suhad helps a participant with her self-evaluation
Suhad helps a participant with her self-evaluation
The participants complete the training!
The participants complete the training!
Business owner Huwaida
Business owner Huwaida's products: Meera's soaps

In August, we introduced you to female entrepreneurs entering their incubation phase with TYO in Palestine. Thanks to your continued support, we're please to share with you an update about our very exciting product launch and networking event held in Ramallah in October. In preparation for their first official product launch, entrepreneurs worked to perfect their English to effectively pitch their business and explain how their products were made. They also received support in best practices in branding, and how to further improve their product packaging.

As a part of the product launch in Ramallah, each businesswoman was given a booth to display her products, services, samples and marketing materials. Guests at the event were able to rate the businesses on a score card based on the following criteria:

  • Business presentation and appeal
  • Logo and brand identification 
  • Packaging and marketing materials
  • Pricing
  • Quality
  • Creativity
  • Memorability 
  • Taste

Take a look at the photos from the event. TYO-Nablus is so proud of the strides these budding entrepreneurs have made!

Entrepreneur Ghada offers samples of her mushrooms
Entrepreneur Ghada offers samples of her mushrooms
Somood's business, Shal Embroidery, was a hit!
Trainer Ahmad Abu Baker scores each business
Trainer Ahmad Abu Baker scores each business
Nahawand explains Play with Numbers to a crowd
Nahawand explains Play with Numbers to a crowd
Officers from the US Consulate & Magic Design mugs
Officers from the US Consulate & Magic Design mugs
Entrepreneurs attend a training at TYO
Entrepreneurs attend a training at TYO

Earlier this year you were introduced to the hard-working entrepreneurs in Lebanon that have benefited from your generous support; Now it’s time to meet the 12 burgeoning entrepreneurs in Palestine! Along with the Small Enterprise Center in Ramallah, TYO Nablus has been working with entrepreneurs from the North to help expand their business networks, overcome misconceptions about access to finance, and scale up their businesses while developing a strong brand and identity. Read on to learn more about each one of these inspiring women and their business ventures!

Nahawand, Play With Numbers

With a degree in mathematics and a career in a chemistry lab, Nahawand is no stranger to numbers. For years, Nahawand offered tutoring help to the children in her family and community who struggled with math. Nahawand noticed that the materials provided by public schools in Palestine promote rote memorization rather than critical thinking, leaving students discouraged.

Nahawand’s company, Play With Numbers, was founded three years ago in Nablus, and provides one-on-one tutoring services in homes, as well as at a local education center, using a combination of mental math techniques and critical thinking perspectives to make math fun, engaging, and simpler for children.

Tahreer, Baladna Jams

Baladna Jams provides quality jams and jellies from Palestine’s fig plants. Made in her home, Tahreer’s hope is that she can bring a Palestinian product into the market, which is crowded with Turkish and Lebanese imports, despite Palestine’s rich agricultural resources.

Da’ad, DHS Textiles

Ten years ago, Da’ad was inspired to bring international styles to Palestine, and reach an untapped market by blending global trends with traditional Arabic attire. DHS Textiles- Da’ad’s private label- is based in Tulkarem, Palestine and currently operates non-formally out of Da’ad’s home. The company produces high-end formal and bridal ware for adolescent and adult women using quality fabrics, such as taffeta, silk, chiffon, and lace.

Howaida, Mira’s Soap

Howaida spent the majority of her career in soap factories in and around Nablus, working in production and manufacturing. In 2011 she decided to take the skills she had acquired and start crafting her own products, using locally-sourced ingredients such as camel’s milk, coconut oil, and olive oil, and launched Mira’s Soap.

Rola, Paradise Vegetables

Paradise Vegetables, Rola’s non-formal enterprise packages and home delivers fresh, organic vegetables directly to homes in Nablus, allowing families or restaurants to easily purchase and receive fresh, pesticide-free produce. While her products change seasonally, Rola’s specialties include arugula, beans, and various herbs.

Donia, Soft Dream

Soft Dream is the revitalization of a home goods enterprise Donia operated prior to the Second Intifada, when she was forced out of business for economic reasons. Today, Donia designs and sells quality duvet covers, blankets, bedding, and other home décor. Donia is passionate about creating high-quality local products that offer alternatives to the poorly-made, low-grade fabric bedding that is imported from China and regularly sold in the region.

Maisa, Tubasee Soaps

Based in the northern Palestinian city of Tubas, Maisa runs a small shop where she produces and sells handmade soaps, which are comprised of local ingredients, such as camel’s milk, chamomile, and extra virgin olive oil. Producing 300 bars of soap per month, Maisa currently employs four women part-time in her small factory, and is registered with relevant local authorities to ensure the quality of her soap, and allow her to sell in other shops throughout the country.

Atika, Cooking Club

Cooking Club is a catering business- run out of Atika’s home- that provides fresh, quality meals for meetings and special events. Atika currently serves a small number of clients per month, which primarily include friends and individuals in her social network. However, as part of the FWEME project, Atika hopes to gain the marketing and advertising skills needed to increase her customer base, and grow as a premier catering service in Nablus.

Zeina, Pal Healthy Store

Zeina knows that globally, finding quality medical care- particularly specialists- is not always an easy process. Through her research as a computer engineer student, Zeina learned of various web-based applications being utilized in other parts of the world that allowed users to search for medical specialists available in their area in real time, and read reviews and ratings from past patients. As a product like this did not exist in Palestine, the idea for Pal Healthy Store was born. Pal Healthy Store is an online application currently under development that catalogs medical experts in Nablus as well as surrounding villages, and allows users to directly search for a specialist by field and location.

Asma, Magic Design

Asma has long been interested in creating- whether it was working on formulas in the science lab during her time as an engineering student or composing designs on Photoshop. She has always enjoyed tasks requiring an acute attention to detail. It’s what led Asma to create the idea for Magic Design. Magic Design seeks to provide logo design, as well as thermal printing on t-shirts, cups, mugs, and similar collateral to businesses in Palestine.

Somood, Revival of Palestinian Heritage

For years Somood enjoyed embroidery as a hobby. Over time, she began to sell her handicrafts at local bazaars, school fairs, and small shops. This earned Somood a reputation within her village as a skilled craftswoman known for creating traditional gowns, scarves, jewelry, and purses. The ongoing success Somood found at local markets inspired her to turn her hobby into a full-time business and share her passion for traditional Palestinian handicrafts.

Ghada: Organic, Anabta Mushrooms

Anabta Mushrooms produces organic mushrooms and mushroom-based products that are grown through innovative, hydroponic techniques. Ghada began growing and selling mushrooms in 2008 and has been operating the business out of her home ever since. On account of her participation in the FWEME project, Ghada has been able to create and refine her business plan, join an agriculture cooperative in Palestine’s North, and officially register her business with the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture.

Entrepreneur, Ghada, shows off her mushrooms
Entrepreneur, Ghada, shows off her mushrooms


Entrepreneur Helene with TYO
Entrepreneur Helene with TYO's Nadine

Thanks to your contribution, TYO-Lebanon (TYO-L) has spent the last few months hard at work helping entrepreneurs in the Bekaa take their businesses to the next level! TYO-L is now working with 5 selected entrepreneurs on expanding their business networks, accessing finance to scale up their businesses and fine tuning their branding and corporate identities. We are happy to share brief profiles on these five women and their businesses:

  • Roula:Atmosphere.... Art & Design School & Gallery… Put Art in your Sphere!”

Roula is a practiced artist and currently has a small studio space and gallery that she would like to expand into an Art and Design School to service artists locally in the Bekaa. Through Atmosphere, Roula wants also to create a space for talented people to connect with potential art lovers companies and individuals, affording young artists a chance to display and sell their work!

  • Rola:Go Green Go – Live the ultimate warm eco experience!”

Rola will expand her businessby launching an environmentally friendly log, which will replace the traditional wood log by transforming houses into warm and happy homes using practical, effective eco friendly heating.

  • Helene: Helene d’Av.... l’espace beaute complet! Beauty... from the inside out!”

Helene is a charming, fresh, classy committed lady with positive energy shining from the inside out. Helene is a beauty specialist well known in the region for her quality work, her honesty and her distinguished simple personal approach to beauty. Helene is ready now to expand her existing beauty center into a more holistic women’s wellness center: the only one of it’s kind in the Bekaa!

  • Tilda:TILES & CO.... when a tile says it all!”

Tildais a serious, passionate, talented, dedicated & committed entrepreneur. Despite somewhat difficult family circumstances, she created a very small cement tile fabric and that she could manage and make profitable for herself     and her two children. She is now ready to take her business to the next level!

  • Rima: “RIYA ... Rima Sawaya’s spirit in landscaping & interior!”

Rimais a skilled and talented young lady, passionate about embellishing all living areas –starting by the public spaces in Zahle. She is specializing in interior design and landscaping and her projects address all the same issue: embellishing ecologically starting from the concept up! 

Again, we thank you on behalf of the hardworking Lebanese women entrepreneurs in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon!

Entrepreneur Rima with TYO
Entrepreneur Rima with TYO's Nadine
Entrepreneur Roula with TYO
Entrepreneur Roula with TYO's Nadine.
Entrepreneurs Roula with TYO
Entrepreneurs Roula with TYO's Nadine.
Entrepreneur Tilda and TYO
Entrepreneur Tilda and TYO's Nadine

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Organization Information

Tomorrow's Youth Organization

Location: McLean, VA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Niralee Shah
Country Director, Tomorrow's Youth Organization
McLean, VA United States

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