Ikraam Opens a Shop to Provide for her Family in Gaza
Through Women Can, women across Palestine are starting small businesses
Meet Ikraam El Faleh, the owner of a stationary and toys shop in the Middle Area of Gaza. Ikraam graduated in 2008 with an engineering degree to become an architect. Since then, she has been forced to settle for a series of temporary positions.
“I had big dreams,” Ikram says. “I expected to obtain a well-paid job when I first entered college, it was easier back then for engineers to get into the job market.”
In 2007, Israel imposed a strict blockade on Gaza. Ikraam, along with countless others, experienced the effects of this first-hand. She recalls the days of her youth before such conflict, as a sweeter time. The siege imposed many challenges on the people of Gaza, especially young people. As the political and economic situation in Gaza endures a decade and a half of hardship, so do the lives of people like Ikraam, who must adapt to these changes.
With conditions worsening on the streets, so were they within her own beloved family. Ikraam’s husband has seen his health deteriorate. Before long Ikraam was forced to become the main breadwinner for her family. This was not an easy task given the dire job market.
“Short term jobs meant small stipends that can barely cover [basic] needs,” recalls Ikraam.
The Anera Women Can project is dedicated to helping people like Ikraam, who claims, “I heard about the project and it didn’t take a minute. I was awarded $2,600 to start up my own project. I knew for sure that I wanted a small project that would provide for me and my family. A decent stationery and toy shop was a perfect fit for me.”
Ikraam’s initiative and dedication have allowed her, now one-month-old, project to thrive, “At least we can put food on the table, pay for the rented place, and pay for my debts.”
To run her business, Ikraam attends to the shop in the morning, returns home in the afternoon to visit her children, and then heads back to the shop in the late afternoon to keep it open into the evening. “It takes a lot of persistence and patience to find your way but there is always a way.”
“No matter what I hear, nothing would break me down,” Ikraam says, proud to have made such great progress.
As a mother of three children, Ikraam couldn’t think of a better way to prove herself. Now she can afford a space and other essential resources for her family to live, paying the fees for her children, and to pay off her debts. Doing so allows her to not only provide for her children, but to be an inspiration for them.
“I hope my project grows more and more. I want my kids to follow my steps to get a good degree. But nothing like having a small business of your own to realize a better future.”