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
Alaa and Rawan during TYO trainings
Alaa and Rawan during TYO trainings

Our names are Alaa Omar and Rawan Rawajbi and we are business partners. We heard about the Youth Rehabilitation Through Entrepreneurship Program (YREP) through the announcement that was made on TYO’s Facebook page. We benefited a lot from the trainings by learning how to create a business plan from A to Z. We also learned the importance of market study, SWOT analysis, and second market research. We were able to identify the vision and mission of our business.

In addition, we realized how to determine a budget and profit margin ratio for our business. We now have a strong ground and greater confidence in our business and products after completing the required analysis for them, the market, targeted customers, and all its different aspects.  We are happy to say that we were able to establish a clear-cut 3-year business plan.

We have a business where we create handmade Palestinian embroidery products. We insert the Palestinian embroidery on modern clothes and accessories in currently trendy colors. Basically, we combine tradition with modern-day taste. We sell our products by participating in exhibitions that are held in different cities in the West Bank. In addition, we use our Facebook and Instagram pages to sell online. Our products are sold mostly to women of any age from 10 to 60 years old.

We benefited from the program through understanding where we are in the market and where we want to reach. We identified our ambitions and the needed steps to achieve our goals and vision. We realized the risks that we should avoid and the ones we should accumulate in our favor in order to achieve business progress and success. We used the award money that we won at the end of the program for two main purposes: We bought an advanced sewing machine that is very necessary for our business and we participated in a training to improve our sewing and embroidery skills and techniques.

By doing so, we were able to expand and add new products to our business. We will always be grateful to QFFD and TYO for their constant trust and belief in us throughout this journey.

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Ruba presents her business idea to the class!
Ruba presents her business idea to the class!

Through the reports on GlobalGiving, Tomorrow’s Youth Organization keeps our supporters updated about what happens with the donations we receive. This is possible because of one basic tool that we share, so obvious and omnipresent that it might have become invisible: the English language. In an age of globalization, the importance of a common language that transcends borders is undeniable. English enables the communication that has created the global markets that built our modern world.

Aware of the importance English in the world of business and communication, the ambitious participants of TYO’s Entrepreneurship Program took part in a four-week Business English course between February and March 2019.

That in business there is no way around English is evidenced by the fact that the entrepreneurs had already come across many English terms during the preceding nine weeks of business courses in which they developed their business plans. Strategic framework, opportunity analysis, driving force - some of the entrepreneurs were familiar with the terminology, while others were completely new to it. Because of the varying levels, TYO decided to offer a beginner and an advanced level Business English class.

While the beginner level focused on giving participants the vocabulary and confidence to introduce themselves and their business idea in English, the advanced course implemented activities that aimed to also develop public speaking and critical thinking skills. Instructors pushed and encouraged participants to hold unscripted conversations, which challenged them to think quickly about relaying information in a concise manner. In addition, regular feedback on writing exercises was an important aspect of the course, as pre-assessments had shown that many participants struggled with writing clearly and without mistakes.

Many participants expressed enjoyment in activities that allowed them to be creative. One example of this was describing hypothetical ‘silly business ideas’ that would never work in the Palestinian context. The participants were then asked to swap their idea with someone else and pitch the other’s idea to the group. This activity worked on developing participants’ public speaking and persuasive communication skills, as well as their poker faces!

After the course had come to an end, post-assessments showed that almost all participants had made significant progress. Interestingly, whereas writing had previously been the weakest spot for many, this was now the area with the highest scores. The overall average scores went up from about 55% to an incredible 75%. We are so proud of our entrepreneurs!

Participants reported that they were more confident in speaking English after taking the course at TYO. One entrepreneur described that she had always felt that there was a wall between her and the language, which had now started to break down. TYO is so happy to be able to contribute to taking away obstacles to education and help fight unemployment. Knowledge of English can itself break down walls, build bridges, and open doors - to the world and to a bright future.

Full concentration mode while reading an article!
Full concentration mode while reading an article!
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As a young artist growing up in Nablus, when Rawshan Malhis discovered that local art shops weren’t carrying sketchbooks, she decided to create and start to sell her own sketchbooks with beautiful covers. Though her original business model did not work out and sketchbooks are now available locally, like any resilient and successful entrepreneur, Rawshan was not discouraged. She participated in TYO’s Youth Rehabilitation Entrepreneurship Program (YREP) in the beginning of 2017 to learn how to grow her business. Rawshan now specializes in creating beautiful portraits and providing beginner art courses for anyone from 10 to 35 years old. TYO recently caught up with the 24-year-old artist, entrepreneur, and law student, to see how she has implemented the skills she gained from YREP.

As a part of the interview, Rawshan showed us the room where most of her artwork is created and proudly yet carefully displayed. Her room defies any stereotype of the messy artist. Billie Holiday records and different Van Gogh sketchbooks cover her deskside. As she says: “My life depends on details.”  When looking at her portrait sketches, glass designs, and engraved wood pieces, it’s hard to believe that Rawshan has never taken a formal art class. According to her, “art should aim to capture feelings” – after taking one look at her work, it’s clear that her own artwork is certainly driven by her emotions.  

How long have you been an artist?

“I have been drawing for a long time, since I was a child. When you’re a child, you are passionate about so many things: playing, sports, drawing, singing, all these things. However, the people around you are the reason [why you pursue a certain passion]: my teachers at school would tell me, “you are talented, keep drawing, participate in competitions” – and I would win.

What motivates your creative work?

“I don’t want to be dramatic, but I would say that the pressure around you allows you to be creative. If not for sadness and pain, life would be very dry. As for sadness, I don’t see it as a negative emotion; it’s just an emotion. It plays a big role in all kinds of artistic creativity. If you look at the greatest musical pieces or the greatest portraits, they have a story behind them and these stories are very tragic.”

Why did you decide to participate in TYO’s Youth Rehabilitation Entrepreneurship Program?

“I was encouraged to join TYO’s YREP because my dream is for people to know about my idea and project. My business idea wasn’t just to sell my drawings, I also wanted to teach art since there was a demand for that. I was already providing small art lessons: I would contact an organization and tell them I wanted to conduct a training in their organization. I set the prices for these classes at an affordable low price as a way to make it more accessible for others. But I wanted to develop my work further through the program at TYO.”

What would you tell other entrepreneurs that want to participate in YREP?

  1. “Be punctual. The most important thing is to be committed to the time. Try as much as you can to commit to the dates of the program.
  2. Don’t miss any training! Every word that is said in the training is important.
  3. Implementing is very important; go home from the training you had that day and implement it. The implementation isn’t hard. You will say, “I still don’t have a business,” no – you can implement it in the smallest details, even in your personal life you can implement what you’ve learned. Not only were we given advice on the business level but also on the social level: how to deal with people. Your engagement with your family becomes different, and the way you think also became different.
    So, I advise them to benefit from each word and not waste any minute. Because this is a golden opportunity for real.”

YREP helped Rawshan to better promote her artistic ideas and her personal story. Following trainings on marketing and social media, she created a Facebook page that showcases her artwork and business. Through its program, TYO provides young, passionate, and driven Palestinians like Rawshan with the skills and networks they need to turn their ideas into reality. If you are a Palestine-based entrepreneur, check out TYO's Youth Rehabilitation Entrepreneurship Program to learn more about how you can develop your own business ideas!

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Ikhlas
Ikhlas

TYO's Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneur project seeks to empower women entrepreneurs and provide them with the tools and skills needed to grow profitable and sustainable businesses that are scalable and facilitate job creation. The entrepreneurship training and development programming that Tomorrow’s Youth Organization offers is both timely and highly sought after. TYO’s entrepreneurs are strong, forward-thinking women who face countless adversities, but seek to create and maintain successful businesses with hopes of investing heavily in their communities and education. Today, we interview Ikhlas, an entrepreneur from Salem village outside of Nablus whose insatiable drive is very much attributed to her desire to support and financially contribute to both her family and her community. Ikhlas is a visually-impaired woman with a Master’s degree from An-Najah University. Our interview was conducted entirely in English.

1. Tell me about yourself and your family. Where are you from? How many people are in your family?

My name is Ikhlas and I am from Salem village. I was born in 1987 as a blind woman to a poor family. I have three brothers and two sisters. One of my brothers, Mohammed, is blind like me. We all live with our mother, as our father was killed in 2004. I come from a very loving family who loved me and gave me tremendous amounts of love and care. I have a special bond with my mom. I have a Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature and a Master’s degree in English Translation and Applied Linguistics. I am an advocate for disability rights and am a member of four disability organizations. I have represented Palestine through a United Nations conference in Malta in 2011 and traveled to the United States in 2012 through Stars of Hope.

2. How, when, and why did you learn English?

Given that I was born blind, I attended a girls’ boarding school in Ramallah, where I learned British English. Knowing English gives me a highly competitive edge in the workplace. I also highly enjoy the language.

 3. Tell me about the business you are developing?

I want to open an educational center for both sighted and visually-impaired people. I would like to teach people how to comprehend and speak English. As a blind woman, it is important for me to have my own business. Palestinian law does not protect disabled people from discrimination, so it is very difficult for me to secure employment. I can not only help myself by opening my own business, but can also support my family and eventually provide jobs to other blind people.

 4. What are you learning in the Women Entrepreneurs program?

When I first came to the business development trainings, I had no idea what a business was or how I could run my own business. I had random ideas in my mind, but now they are becoming more organized. With the expertise of the trainers, I am able to organize my thoughts and generate my ideas. I am learning how to refine the service I am offering, develop a business plan, incorporate branding and marketing strategies into my business plan and so much more. I am excited to learn how to conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis as a way to study both my internal and external environment as a business owner.

5. What are the challenges you face as someone who is blind? How do you overcome those challenges?

As a blind woman, I suffer from a great deal of discrimination. I was treated very badly throughout all of my schooling as a child. I have been treated very badly by people in my society, but have always had my family as my backbone and primary support system. I am blessed to have such a supportive family and I seek to open a business to support them and other disabled people who are not able to secure employment. Sometimes, I feel weak and I weep. After my father died, our family became even poorer than we were before. Despite it all, I still have hope and a tremendous will to live.

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Maysaa
Maysaa

My name is Maysaa. My soap business, called "Tubasee Soap," is named after my hometown. I make and sell handmade soap using herbs and natural ingredients such as olive oil, lavender, rosemary, sage, camel milk, and goat milk. I started making soap in 2009 after I participated in a training lead by NICCOD, a Japanese non-profit organization, where I learned how to produce soap using natural ingredients. After the training, I gradually started to experiment with producing different kinds of soap and trying them on myself. I immediately noticed that my skin looked and felt much healthier after using the natural soaps compared to the more commercialized and chemical products upon which I had been depending for so long. I decided to turn this skill and discovery into a profitable business and took the first step by joining the 2012 Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East (FWEME) program at Tomorrow's Youth Organization (TYO) in partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

I always knew that I still needed to improve upon my business management and marketing skills. I found the opportunity years later when I joined TYO’s Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs (APWE)  project in partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. The project offered a chance to step back and evaluate how my start-up was doing and improve some of my business practices. A few months into the project, I used my business plan developed through APWE to apply for a scholarship and was selected to join the Active Citizen Summit 2.0, a three-week trip to the US to gain more business skills and study new techniques in soap production. Looking back on the trip, I can see what a profound impact it had on me both personally and professionally. It boosted my confidence and self-esteem and it also helped me to see how my small idea and micro-business could transform into a much larger and more prosperous business. I came back to APWE even more eager to learn.

It is hard to point to one single way in which I’ve benefited from APWE; there are so many ways that I have changed. Before joining the program, I was much more focused on the quality of my product and the production process and less on how I myself, as the business owner, promoted my product. Through the APWE marketing and branding intensive, I began to understand the importance of product marketability. I learned that certain marketing strategies – such as how I present my soap to new customers, my business logo, the tagline, and having professional photos of products – could all help to grow my customer base and increase sales. During the mentorship module, I asked to be matched with a graphic design and photography mentor in order to improve my photography skills and capture professional shots of my products for advertising. The photography techniques I learned were very simple, but have made a huge difference in how my products look in advertising. I immediately noticed that I was able to attract new customers. The demand for my soap products increased significantly once I started sharing my improved product photos.

Fellow entrepreneurs frequently ask for suggestions about how to start up or strengthen their businesses. I always encourage them to reach out to TYO and to sign up for entrepreneurship programs. I know that the programs will put them on the right track towards realizing their strengths and gaining the business practices they need in order to turn their dreams into a reality.

Handmade Tubasee Soap
Handmade Tubasee Soap
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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
$23,022 raised of $25,000 goal
 
238 donations
$1,978 to go
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