The Next Steps for Women Entrepreneurs in Lebanon

TYO celebrates the start of the second phase of the Women Entrepreneurs in Lebanon Project. Coming off a hugely successful 4-day Business Training at the BIAT facility in Tripoli, where we had such an amazing turnout, choosing our 20 women was no easy task! Each participant brought her own insights, ideas and creativity to the project, but alas, we did have to choose. In an effort to find the right women for the “job,” the project staff and steering committee assessed each participant of the first-round training according to a basic selection criteria that included ideas and potential for real business success in the local Lebanese markets; commitment to the project and its training schedule; and willingness to take risks.

We are so happy to announce the 20 women selected to continue into the next phase of the project, the one-on-one coaching/mentoring sessions where they will have the opportunity to further develop their ideas and get them that much closer to financing, implementation and success! The dedicated BIAT team will provide the following top 20 women with their sessions:

Sahar Abou Doleh, 48, Kfar Habou
Sahar produces honey and with the right materials, can greatly improve and increase existing honey production, so she would like to expand!

Salma Ajaj, 62, Miryata
Salma, a skilled seamstress, would like to be able to grow her capacity to serve her local need.

Halimeh Al Chaar, 40, Tikrit
Halimeh has a green thumb and a license in gardening so she is perfectly suited to embark on the business of opening a Green house.

Jaqeline Al Nachar, 46, Halba
Jaqeline would like to open a custom boutique specializing in wedding dresses.

Aziza Abd Al Rahim, 29, Nahr El Bared Palestinian Refugee Camp
Using her knowledge of farming cows, Aziza wants to have her own small-scale dairy!

Asma Al Amyouni, 57, Kfar Habou
Asma would like to create olive oil and preserved olives with a spin on tradition, including green herbs such as sage and rosemary, in the preservation process.

Houwayda Sharaf Al Dine, 38, Berkael
Houwayda’s tasty twist on traditional mouneh (preserved/pickled foods) will include the preservation of dry fruits with chocolate.

Rima Al Rachid, 41, Machta Hassan
Rima already has a successful marble company and would like to innovatively manufacture gravel from marble.

Nahla Bikaii, 47, Baddawi Palestinian Refugee Camp
Nahla has a successful local shop that she would like to expand to include café services to meet her customer need.

Layali Chaaban, 27, Baddawi Palestinian Refugee Camp
With just a few upgrades, Layali hopes to enhance her flower shop.

Tania Hamad, 20, Halba
Tania shows real business acumen with her idea to provide marketing services to local workers producing local goods, helping them to increase their sales.

Ahlam Hammoud, 39, Halba
Thinking outside the cardboard box, Ahlam decided to develop a recycling initiative in homes and local schools.

Soumaya Jokmak, 53, Kfar Habou
When life gives Soumaya lemons, she makes not only lemonade, but jams and local sweets! Her project focuses on using lemons for a variety of products.

Maysa’ Kassem, 30, Nahr El Bared Palestinian Refugee Camp
Maysa’ identified a gap in the entire Lebanese market and decided to start locally, with a much needed library!

Noura Khodor, 23, Al-Kouweichra
Noura creates handmade decorative candles of all shapes and sizes, for all occasions!

Rana Mouhammad, 29, Ayyat-Akkar
Rana would like to open a Beauty Center.

Samira Mansour, 55, Kfar Habou
Samira’s tried and tested technique for homemade olive oil and olive soap production is something she wants to take to the next level and expand her existing business.

Joumana Saiid, 30, Aydamoun-Halba|
Joumana identified a real-need for a Women-only Health Center in her community.

Lamia Sawan, 59, Kfar Habou
Lamia’s love for the arts inspired her to want to open an artisana shop in Lebanon to showcase locally made handmade crafts.

Najwa Zaydan, 39, Nahr El Bared Palestinian Refugee Camp
Bridal and Baby One-Stop Shop is Najwa’s idea for business success!

Check out the map below to see where our participants are from in Northern Lebanon!


Goodbye for now

The activity in my arts and crafts class was simple; to write and/or draw a picture about your favorite memory from these past two and half months. As I saw my students writing about the time we made paper lamps for Ramadan, new friends, water balloons, and pool day, I couldn’t help but reflect on how important this experience has been to me and how I just can’t seem to shake the perpetual pit I’ve had in my stomach about leaving so soon.

Nearly three months ago I said goodbye to my family and boarded a plane with a certain amount of excitement and trepidation for a new and often misunderstood place, a new adventure. Although I had never been to the Middle East, I immediately feel in love with the resilient and vibrant spirit of the Nabulsi people. From the first week onwards, life has moved at an extraordinarily fast pace with little time to process.

But in this short time I have seen my students take leaps and bounds in developing their confidence and personality. One student, Aya, came into class the first two weeks and sat down with her head on the table. She was silent, upset, and refused to participate in many of the activities. Eight weeks later, I am bound to find Aya attached at the hips of a new group of girlfriends from a different neighborhood, coming to class early to practice her numbers in English with me, and standing in front of her peers to present her art projects with a shy but steady smile. What is even more encouraging is that Aya’s story does not stand by itself but is representative of TYO’s impact on the children who participate in its programs. Throughout these 8 weeks, I have heard similar stories repeated time and time again from my other interns; it’s one song I will never get sick of listening to.

My students and the intern program has challenged me to grown in new ways both personally and professionally. The lessons learned, stories I have had the privilege to hear, and experiences I have shared with my fellow interns will stay with me wherever I go.

Until I’m back in Nablus…ma’a salama.