Reema took part in our Lebanon Women Entrepreneurs project in 2015.
All I care for is to develop the rural area I come from.
Following the death of her husband, Reema became the sole provider of her family and decided to open a haute couture workshop in the rural area of Mount Lebanon.
Her determination to support her family and realise her dream motivated her to participate in this project. The training has enabled Reema to learn how to successfully manage her four full-time employees, build the capacity of her business, expand her clientele list and develop the skills and self-confidence to negotiate a competitive price for her products.
Reema’s designs are already attracting international interest as she visits Turkey on a monthly basis to sell her products. Despite this success, Reema wants to continue to operate locally and encourage growth in her local community. She says, “All I care for is to develop the rural area I come from.”
Stories like Reema’s show how women entrepreneurs play a vital role in their communities. However, fostering entrepreneurial growth can be challenging in a context such as Lebanon. The political instability of the region, coupled with the continuing migration of refugees from Syria has led to an increasingly volatile environment. Security concerns have meant that we have had to delay the delivery of some of our training sessions. The instability has also affected Lebanon’s economy, which has experienced a decreasing number of investors and a slow growth rate in sectors such as tourism.
We have adapted to these circumstances by identifying alternative training venues and providing transportation to these venues for the women in order to ensure their safety. We have also forged strong relationships with financial institutions to enable women to access the capital they need to invest in their businesses. Furthermore, we have facilitated women’s attendance at market expositions to increase their opportunities to network with investors and sell their products to new customers. We have also provided additional training for women on how to use social media to reach more clients and reduce the impact of restrictions on movement and trade caused by periods of conflict.
Our experience of supporting women entrepreneurs in Lebanon has taught us that empowering women entrepreneurs to become successful business owners must involve building their capability for managing external shocks and insecurity. This vital learning has been incorporated into our new project, Women’s Economic Empowerment in Lebanon. Funded by the US Department of State and implemented in collaboration with Al Majmoua, this project was launched in January 2015 and will support 200 women entrepreneurs to grow successful and sustainable businesses in the Bekaa region. This project aims to contribute to the economic recovery and growth of the country by providing women entrepreneurs with training, coaching and business incubation. In addition, we will provide training on business continuity and risk management skills so that they can effectively deal with the impact of political and social instability within the region. We will also work to increase access to financial services by securing commitments from financial institutions to invest in the potential of women entrepreneurs.
Here at the Foundation we know that all entrepreneurial journeys involve barriers and hurdles. We remain committed to supporting women to achieve their full potential, no matter how great the challenges they face.
Find out more about the Lebanon Women Entrepreneurs project
In partnership with the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women initiated a project in 2011 to support women entrepreneurs in Lebanon.
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Driven by a desire to put her education to good use, Neeta launched a community-run initiative making and selling jam. She joined our Ekta programme, growing her knowledge of product marketing - and her sales!
Stories from women entrepreneurs in the West Bank
Amal, Huweida, Jameela and Manal took part in the Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs programme in 2016.