In’am, Ma’ali and Manar’s stories
In’am, Ma’ali and Manar took part in the Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs programme in 2016.
Palestinian women entrepreneurs face significant economic challenges. Entrepreneurship among women has stagnated in recent years while Palestinian women’s engagement in the labour market is among the lowest in the world. Women struggle to access the training, markets and capital they need to build strong thriving enterprises. Additional barriers include their remote location, restricted mobility as a result of ongoing security issues, and socio-cultural expectations.
In collaboration with Tomorrow’s Youth Organization, and with support from the Oak Foundation, we are empowering Palestinian women in the West Bank to scale up their businesses through a combination of business training, coaching and incubation support. Below are the stories of three of these women.
In’am al-Khaidr is from Jamaaen, Nablus. In 2014 she set up a business buying, raising and selling calves. Traditionally seen as ‘men’s work’, this was an unusual choice for a woman.
Although In’am’s business was profitable, her operations were a bit chaotic. She didn’t have a business plan and wasn’t documenting all of her expenses and income. Joining the project opened her eyes to a range of issues, including the importance of diversification. The process of fattening and selling calves takes approximately eight months, and because In’am was focusing her business solely on this process, she would only generate a profit every eight months. After attending our training, In’am purchased cows in order to make milk and cheese and generate a more consistent profit stream. Marketing training also taught her to strategically pick her market and customer base to minimise competition.
In’am started her business two years ago with just three calves; now she has fifteen. In’am believes in taking risks, loves the “action” her business brings to her life, and feels more confident in her ability to succeed.
Ma’ali Diab is from the city of Tulkarem. She is married with two sons. As her sons grew up Ma’ali recognised that their educational needs were very different; her eldest son was an advanced learner, and her youngest son had learning needs. After realising that their school did not have the educational tools to support either child, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
Ma’ali started attending conferences and workshops where she met teachers, psychologists, and social workers, and learned more about the types of educational tools required for both disabled and advanced students. As a result, she started to develop books and games for children across the learning spectrum.
Because Ma’ali had studied pharmacy, she had no experience in creating a business or financial plan for her new enterprise. Through our project, she learned how to correctly price her products and balance her income and her expenses. The training also helped her undertake market research, and Ma’ali has now started to market her business in Ramallah, which offers more opportunities to find companies, associations and organisations which are developing and selling educational tools. Ma’ali is now looking forward to learning how to connect with investors and access start-up capital.
Manar Sha’ban is from al-Jalame, Jenin. She has five children and is very active in her community. In 2010, Manar and her family found themselves in dire economic circumstances so she started sewing and selling vegetables to earn money. As she started to generate a profit, Manar began to realise the importance of being economically independent. Her family was able to buy land and build a larger house, and Manar soon established herself as one of its primary decision-makers. Her role shifted from follower to outspoken leader. She also used her extra income to send both her eldest son and daughter to university.
Since joining our project, Manar has continued to build on her success. In particular, she has strengthened her financial management skills, learning how to identify profit and, in turn, more accurately determine the prices of her products. Manar has also benefitted from training on ‘idea sourcing and product development’, which helped her to make the big decision to give up her sewing to focus solely on her vegetable business, which offered greater earning potential. Manar is now planning to fulfil a long-standing goal of hers by registering her business with the Chamber of Commerce.
Find out more about our Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs programme
Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs supported women in Palestine from 2014-2017.
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