Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday is the last Saturday in November, falling between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It was set up to encourage consumers to support local businesses by shopping small.
We also think the occasion is a perfect one to showcase some of the amazing small businesses that women in Palestine have started up through Anera’s Women Can program, funded by Islamic Relief USA.
In honor the 2021 Small Business Saturday, take a look at a some of the enterprising women who have grown their businesses in Palestine.
Tahani, the Beekeeper
Tahani lives in the town of Beitillu, near the city of Ramallah in the West Bank. She is a mother of five, and the sole breadwinner for her family.
“I was thinking about how to start this business even before connecting with Anera’s project. My neighbor is the one who suggested this project to me. He taught me everything I know about beekeeping. But I have never had enough money to launch a business,” she says.
Through Anera’s Women Can program, Tahani launched her small apiary business with eight hives, and has since added another. She has sold some 80% of her honey products and it investing the funds she earns into growing the business.
“I want to have 100 hives. We always start from zero. So I dream big. I have lived a tough life. I do not want my kids to go through what I went through. That is why I am working so hard on this project — to expand my business and make it successful not only locally, but also globally!”
Yasmeen Makes Her Greenhouse Thrive
Yasmeen looked at her family’s plot of land that had been left fallow for 15 years. “My parents used to farm and I used to help them,” Yasmeen remembered. “It was a long time ago and my father couldn’t keep it up.”
And then she heard about Anera’s Women Can program and got excited at the idea of reviving the family farm while earning a living. “Anera provided me with everything, including metal structural supports, plastic sheets, seedlings, and a water tank to store the water flowing from the spring next to our land,” she says.
Since Yasmeen started growing vegetables she realized she had enough for the family to be self-sufficient. Neighbors and relatives tasted her vegetables too and soon clamored for more of her produce.
Sales are growing, just like her garden.
Khayrazan Brings Slow Fashion to Nablus
Khayrazan is a tailor in the village of Bita, just outside the city of Nablus. The soft-spoken mother of four has had to become the main income earner for her family ever since her husband developed serious back pain and breathing problems three years ago.
To make money she turned to sewing, patching and adjusting clothes for neighbors. She already knew how to sew, having learned the skill as a girl. But the machine she was using was 50 years old. Through Anera’s Women Can program, she was able to purchase new equipment that revolutionized her business and allowed her to think outside the box.
Khayrazan was looking for a niche in the industry that is sustainable and wouldn’t require a lot of expenses to enter. She landed on the business of used clothes recycling, bringing slow fashion to Nablus. Unlike fast fashion, slow fashion emphasizes production by local artisans and the use of environmentally sustainable manufacturing. She reuses old materials and fabric and transforms them into new designs.
“There are always clothes that people no longer want. I can turn old outfits into new ones to match current fashions. It’s tricky work, but we use our creativity.”
Nadera, Baker Extraordinaire
Nadera, 42, is a talented cook in Qalqilya, in the West Bank. She began as an amateur, having learned how to bake pastries from her mother. When her husband died several years ago, the skill became a way to support her family. The widow has four children to support.
One day, she delivered an order of ka’ak — a mildly sweet, Palestinian cookie usually filled with dates or nuts — to a neighbor and learned about a great opportunity to expand her baking. She applied and was accepted into Anera’s Women Can program. Now, she could get serious about launching her small baking business.
She was able to get an industrial oven, mixer, grinding machine, and freezer. “It was hard to do things manually. I would have given up trying to make the business work without this critical equipment,” After getting the equipment, Nadera was able to freeze date paste and other seasonal fillings for her pastries so that she can make and sell her cookies year-round.
She hopes to further expand her business in the future by marketing her products online.
Nihaya, Clothing Store Owner
Nihaya is a 32-year-old who lives in the village of Al Mughier — located in the West Bank, Palestine. After getting divorced a few years ago, Nihaya thought her life was over. With two young kids to support, life was tough for a single woman without an income in Palestine.
She did have the beginnings of a plan, however. To bring in some money, she would buy clothes at retail from the city and resell them in her small village. First she started going door-to-door to sell the clothing, but it was not a very profitable approach. When she discovered Anera’s Women Can program, she got the funds she need to fulfill her vision of owning a clothing store.
“It’s as if my deep prayers and perseverance paid off at once. I received a grant to start a small clothing store. With the money, I was able to fill my store with children’s and women’s outerwear, lingerie, blankets and winter clothes.”
Nihaya has been developing some savvy marketing strategies as well. “I use digital platforms to help me with this,” she says. “I usually post an outfit for a day or so before I decide whether to bring it to my store or not. I look at the comments sections and feedback – if at least a third of responses are positive, I go buy it the next day.”
Soon after she opened the store, Nihaya was making money and supporting her family.
Funding for Women Can comes from Islamic Relief USA. The views expressed herein are those of Anera and shall not, in any way whatsoever, be construed to reflect the official opinion of IRUSA, its Islamic Relief affiliates, or its donors.
Even after this war is over, the decimation of life and infrastructure in Gaza will take many years to overcome.