Name: Heba and Hana
Age: 28 years old and 25 years old
Location: Borqa village, outside of Nablus
Business Plan: H2 Fashion Design
How did you decide to participate in FWEN? What have you gained from the program?
Heba and Hana, two friends from a small village outside of Nablus, heard about the FWEN program through TYO, where they are both volunteers. Hana decided to participate because it was a new experience and would allow her to gain new knowledge and skills, and Heba wanted to make her skills profitable and gain financial independence. Both women say they hoped to become “strong and independent women” by participating in the program. Thus, the idea of “H2 Fashion” was born.
After graduating from An-Najah University in 2007 with a degree in social science, Hana was unable to find work despite a lengthy search. She had thought about starting her own business but didn’t know how. The FWEN trainings provided her with the skills, experience, and network to put her business plan into action. Similarly, Heba says she has learned new things (including English and computer skills) and gained self-confidence.
What is your business plan?
Both women are skilled in traditional Palestinian embroidery techniques, and their business plan will allow them to put this to use in an innovative way. They will add the traditional embroidery to modern clothing – including women’s lingerie, t-shirts, and jeans – and other items such as hand towels. Heba and Hana plan to open a shop in Nablus, but also to reach an international market through online sales. They have already sent a batch of sample products to Washington, DC, for sale there. Perhaps most importantly, their business will provide employment opportunities for other women in their village. They have already employed five other women to help with the embroidery of the sample products.
What are your next steps? What help would you like to receive?
Heba and Hana are currently hard at work producing samples in order to market their project. They need funding to get their business off the ground and expand production. They also hope to create partnerships with clothing designers, receive additional training in marketing and accounting, and continue to expand their market beyond Palestine.
What are your dreams for the future, and how will your business help you to achieve them?
When dreaming about the future, both Heba and Hana hope to reach an international market and for “H2 Fashion to become a well-known brand in the world.” As the business expands, they hope to help many poor women in Palestine by providing employment. In terms of their family lives, Hana hopes to contribute financially to her household; her husband is supportive of her entrepreneurship endeavors. Heba hopes to eventually complete her studies and to provide a better future for her daughter.
ABOUT FWEN: During the Fifth Annual Clinton Global Initiative (New York, September 2009), the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Tomorrow’s Youth Organization (TYO) committed to contribute to women’s economic empowerment in Nablus. The project, Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in Nablus, is now underway at the TYO Center in Nablus and is planned to begin in Lebanon in the fall of 2010.