Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine

by Tomorrow's Youth Organization
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine
Support Female Entrepreneurs in Palestine

My name is Raghad, I studied marketing at An-Najah National University. This year I participated in TYO's Youth Entrepreneurship program. I used to volunteer with TYO and when I heard about the Youth Entrepreneurship program I decided to apply.

My team and I are working on a tourism application called "Story Out". I wanted to start a business that would allow me to focus on the tourism sector, particularly tourist monuments. I also want to promote tourism in Palestine; to make it a popular destination for international tourists. We wish to own a successful business to prove ourselves and become economically independent; a business that will give us space for creativity and to fulfill our ambitions.

Our tourism application will serve as a virtual guide, providing information for tourists during their exploration of different locations. Among other features, users will be able to engage with and ask for assistance from the virtual guide whenever they need. Through the application users will be able to create accounts and share their experiences, suggestions and information through a virtual space.

We participated in intensive training sessions at TYO covering business administration, marketing, finance and many other topics. They taught us how to manage and plan our businesses in the right way to successfully present it to the right market, and guided us to become leaders in the fields we’re working in.

TYO’s program has allowed me to build professional connections in the tourism industry, as well as in other relevant fields such as graphic design, advertising and many others. Networking is always important since it enables us to connect with others on a professional level. We also learned how to properly create a business plan.

I would say to other entrepreneurs who are afraid to start their own businesses; the world is full of opportunities, and we need new experiences and innovations. I advise you to take the first step today, and along your path you will meet many experienced people to support you. The unemployment rate in Palestine is very high. I recommend young entrepreneurs to start their own business, even with few resources. If it is successful it will develop day after day.

My ambition is to be able to achieve success with my business and become well known, not just in Palestine, but also in other countries around the world. I particularly hope that it enhances the tourism sector. I also hope that after this crisis [COVID-19] ends, tourism improves and becomes even better than before. I plan to build on my entrepreneurship abilities and to prove myself in this field with additional businesses.

 

* Permission has been given by the individual to use her full name in the report above.

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"Through my business, I want to become an inspiring woman for the youth and make them believe that they can also become an inspiration. Also, to build a well-known and trustworthy business. That when it is mentioned people immediately say yes, she's doing great work. And of course, I want to be financially independent and be fully responsible for myself.

It’s important for women entrepreneurs to prove to themselves first that they can do what others can and even more. This is very important because some people underestimate what women are capable of.

To other female entrepreneurs; if you want anything in life you need to strive to achieve it. I strongly believe that if you work on yourself and on what you want, you will be able to accomplish it. There is nothing in life that is impossible." - Nusaiba, Palestinian female entrepreneur & business owner

Interview with Nusaiba:

What is the top skill of a successful entrepreneur?

Darren Hardy, a success mentor once said “small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference”. I believe the top skills that entrepreneurs need are consistency, patience and persistence. Entrepreneurship requires lots of tolerance and hard work to achieve goals.

What type of business would you love to start? 

My business is an online training academy for university students and graduates to improve their skills for employment.

What/who is your favorite start-up or entrepreneur? 

I’m a fan of the Impact Theory founded by Tom Bilyeu. Tom created the Impact Theory to help people develop the skills they need to improve themselves. Through his content and speeches he inspires people all over the world to unleash their potential and strive for greatness.

I have two favourite international entrepreneurs that I follow constantly; Darren Hardy and Tom Bilyeu. Tom is also the founder of the brand ‘Quest Nutrition’ that is worth billions of dollars (and the co-founder and host of The Impact Theory).

What are your future goals?

1. To become an influential and inspiring person in the lives of others, in the Arab world and internationally. I hope to make a positive change in people’s lives that is reflected in their achievements.

2. To spread the culture of training via the internet and investing in human resources.

3. To contribute to the process of positive change and self-development for all who wish to do so.

4. To speak on TED Talks on an Arab and international level.

5. To establish an online training academy that would give me financial freedom.

 

What do you say to other entrepreneurs who are afraid of starting their own business?

I would tell them that fear, uncertainty and self-doubt are feelings that all entrepreneurs felt when they started their businesses. Don’t think that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, or even Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, didn’t feel the same feelings at some point. Go back to their biographies and read them, you’ll find they’re normal people just like you and me, but they did not let their fear defeat them. And they had the determination, perseverance and belief that they would achieve their dreams someday.

Also, there is no better time than the present to start a personal business, because of the availability of all kinds of resources that can help you to start properly. The Internet itself is a golden opportunity, through which you can learn anything you need to start and continue your business. You can learn from great trainers and do it at a time that is best for you.

I strongly believe in this quote by Darren Hardy: 

"You were called here for a reason to fulfill a special purpose. A mission. To contribute something unique. Something that wouldn’t have existed without you. It’s your Hero’s Journey."

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Rana gives an interview about her business.
Rana gives an interview about her business.

My name is Rana and I have always been dreaming of becoming a successful, independent business woman. I keep working on myself to increase my future opportunities. I have earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Birzeit University and a master’s degree in Business Administration from An-Najah University in Palestine.

Technology is my passion, and I believe that through technology we can always find the answer and the solution. Here in Palestine, we should think and work hard to make our dreams come true.

My idea is developing a website that connects medical staff with people who need healthcare. Deciding which doctor to visit and consult is a struggle and booking an appointment is even harder. I came up with the idea because I have a friend who had a baby with a skin problem. She went to a dermatologist and her skin problem got worse, until someone told her to go to a pediatrician. The pediatrician helped her and her baby was healthy again. After that, I realized that technology could be the solution.

My struggle started when I noticed that I have the knowledge of how to create such a website, but I do not know how to convert my idea into a real business, and I didn’t know from where to start! I knew that TYO is conducting a program for entrepreneurs, so I decided to participate and go for my dream.

I took all the training, which really helped me in answering a lot of questions that were on my mind. It was really the first step to starting my own business. It established a great foundation for me in the transition from an employee to a founder of a start-up. All the topics that were discussed during the program were comprehensive of every type of role, issue, opportunity and a challenge that a leader would face in a firm.

Fortunately, with hard work and commitment to my dream, I won $3,000 financial support at the end of the program. The money allowed me to start my project and develop a landing page, design my own logo, and buy needed equipment.

My project is still in its beginnings and I will keep dreaming until I have my own well-known website around the world. Success for me is my own business.

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Work, pastries, and coffee at Bait Al Dyafa
Work, pastries, and coffee at Bait Al Dyafa

“I didn’t have anyone by my side. I didn’t have enough money to enrol my kids in university. I never had emotional support to overcome challenging moments in life. I felt like I was letting my children down. But now, all of that has changed.” 

Maysoon struggled to make ends meet, being the sole economic provider for her seven children. In order to protect her children from a deteriorating quality of life, she was determined not to let this be a defining struggle. 

In the winter of 2018, she rented a small property in the old city of Nablus with the hope of turning it into a café. Her dream was to operate her own business and earn a stable income. When she rented the property, she realised it needed renovating since the doors and the windows were broken, the floor was unstable and there was no handrail for the stairs. Her goal was to work from home, selling pastries and sweets until she had enough money to buy kitchen supplies and hire professionals to renovate the café. 

“How was I supposed to support my 7 children?”

Maysoon understood the risk that renting this property conveyed for her and her family. In the summer of 2019, she realised that she was still very far away from achieving her goal. Maysoon was struggling to come to terms with being unable to register her daughter in university due to the tuition costs. She got in touch with Yusra Sama’neh, the case manager at TYO, to take part in the Mental Health Program. 

This is something that’s often neglected in Palestine- the need for access to mental health services. Lone parents with unstable incomes and a large family are often in desperate need of emotional support. However, due to misconceptions regarding the nature of mental health disorders, seeking professional help is uncommon. Maysoon was brave enough to ask for help.

“I realised I needed psychological support. I was positive I could make it but it would take me 2 to 3 years to open the café. How was I supposed to support my seven children until I managed to open the café and start making a profit?” Maysoon said. 

Also weighing on Maysoon’s mind was the fact that she did not want to resort to other people for help. However, the situation she found herself in gave her no other option. Maysoon was not aware of TYO’s entrepreneurship initiatives and solely asked for psychological support. Consequently, Amal, a social worker at TYO, visited Maysoon and began carrying out regular counselling sessions with her and her family. Yusra visited the café and realised the potential this business had. 

“Maysoon was determined to make this project come true. It takes courage to take the leap but she did it anyway.” Yusra explained. “I believe in giving women the resources they need to stand on their own and become economically independent. Thus, I did everything in my hands to make her dream become a reality.”

In July 2019, Yusra registered Maysoon to receive entrepreneurship advice and training  from TYO in order to support the start of her business. With the assistance of the Social Development Ministry and UNRWA, TYO’s contracted engineers completely renovated Maysoon’s café in the space of one month. The priority was given to fixing the doors and windows due to security concerns. Consequently, the floor was fixed and countertops and cabinets were provided for the kitchen area. The Social Development Ministry then provided Maysoon with kitchen supplies, along with a freezer and a dough machine. 

“These are tears of happiness, tears of appreciation.”

The opening of the café took place on the 26 of August 2019, two years before what had been scheduled initially. For the past three months, Maysoon has been working in her café from 6am to 5pm- cooking pastries, preparing the upstairs area for customers and making home deliveries. All her hard work has paid off and she has managed to make enough profit to enrol her daughter in university, something she had not been able to do during the summer. 

“These are tears of happiness, tears of appreciation since I can’t actually express how grateful I feel towards Yusra and TYO,” she said, “I no longer need to ask my neighbour for money. I am solely dependent on myself and I am constantly moving forward.” 

Maysoon is currently aiming to expand her family business in two ways. Firstly, she wishes to hire employees outside her family, thus improving the economic situation of other families in her community. Secondly, she aspires to make enough money to buy an electric bike so her son can make food deliveries in an environmentally friendly manner. 

“I am so thankful to Yusra for coming into my world and telling me- I am with you, you’re not alone,” Maysoon explains. “No one has ever supported me like Yusra, she was like a waterfall, streaming with so much giving.” 

Maysoon has proven to be an incredibly brave, independent woman who was not afraid to face the risks and follow her dream. She was also capable of asking for psychological support, contributing to breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health in Palestine. Maysoon has become a role model for her kids and other women in her community.

“It’s only been three months since we opened the café but my life has changed for the better. My children are in university, I can pay the bills, and most importantly, my kids look up to me, they’re proud of me. I will be forever grateful.” 

Maysoon’s café is called the `House of Hospitality´(in Arabic: Bait Al Dyafa). This is the upstairs area where students can study for their exams, have a coffee or order a delicious piece of cake. 

Maysoon is incredibly media savvy and promotes her café through Facebook and Instagram.

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Reham & Saja take part in an exhibition.
Reham & Saja take part in an exhibition.

We are Riham and Saja and we are partners in our project called Smart Shirt for Autistic Patients. We developed our business during TYO’s Youth Rehabilitation Through Entrepreneurship Program (YREP).

The Smart Shirt for Autistic Patients is an interactive electronic shirt designed to monitor an autistic child’s condition and movements. Parents or guardians receive an alert when the child is exposed to any external harm through a headset connected to the shirt. This gives the parents a chance to help their child if there is a problem, but also gives their children a critical sense of independence. The shirt uses vibration and music to relieve tension and provide psychological treatment for children. It is possible to record several different sounds and music on the shirt so that it is specialized to help them learn, develop their mind, and encourage participation in dialogue with others. The beneficiaries of this project are autistic patients and their families, but we sell the product to autism centers, associations, and hospitals that have sections for autistic patients.

We first learned about YREP through social networking sites. We underwent all the training phases and sessions in order to gain all the information and experience we needed. The training included many practical terms to help us build our project fully and smoothly. We completed the training with a professional marketing plan and a detailed financial budget that we can present to anyone without hesitation.

The final phase of the program was the mentorship phase. Meeting an inspiring doctor who specializes in autism helped us answer many questions related to medical information. this enabled us to develop our project better by linking information with technology. At the end of the program we received a $1,000 financial grant. This money allowed us to develop our project electronically. We were able to buy modern and sophisticated electronics that helped us build the project in a competitive commercial way in the Palestinian medical and electronic market.

We have been working on the project for two years now, but the first year was before we joined the program. We can say that our project was following a completely different course in the first year from the one we are now following after the entrepreneurship program. Now that we have our own business plan and we can develop it regularly, we can create pilot projects fully and deal with any confrontations and difficulties. This program made us a completely different professional person. We feel very proud of ourselves after completing all the program phases and applying it all on our project. We have been trying to have funding from the Higher Council for Innovation and Excellence for a long time, but we couldn’t have it. After finishing the program, we provided them with our detailed business, financial, and marketing plan. Finally, they accepted us and we are now in the process of having the fund. Today, we are still working on this project in various ways to reach its successful final image. We are not far from the final version of our shirt and we proudly say that this is thanks  the entrepreneurship program implemented by TYO.

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Organization Information

Tomorrow's Youth Organization

Location: McLean, VA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @tomorrowsyouth
Project Leader:
Suhad Jabi
Director, Tomorrow's Youth Organization
McLean, VA United States
$22,700 raised of $25,000 goal
 
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