Women Entrepreneurs Boost their Families and Community
In 2015, Ahlam came to Lebanon from Syria with her husband and three children. They, like many other Syrians, settled in the Mieh Mieh area, situated between two overcrowded Palestinian refugee camps. With the influx of people, the community has faced several pressures. Women especially are facing difficulties in finding ways to support themselves and their families.
This is partly due to not having the same educational opportunities as men. Ahlam, for instance, left elementary school to help care for her brothers. Several years later, after getting married, she tried to go back to school, but she had to give up again to case for her newborn children.
At 29, Ahlam already had significant experience with cooking. But she wanted to learn more, and potentially use her skills to support her family. When she found out about the culinary trainings offered by Nabras Foundation, she was keen to join.
Founded with a humanitarian and education mandate in 2009, the Nabras Foundation was supported by the New World Programme to offer a formal vocational training programme, focusing on cosmetology, hairdressing, and culinary arts. Ithey an 2016, they started organizing trainings for women in the Mieh Mieh area. They also added life skills sessions and an additional two month management training.
75 women - Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian - joined the trainings. Nabras selected the women who needed it the most, who were unemployed or have never had opportunities to work.
“I decided to take this training for the certification and to gain expertise,” says Ahlam. “It is definitely my dream to open a restaurant if it’s ever possible.”
Aside from work skills, the trainings also gave women the opportunity to be more present in public life. Many had rarely left the house or thought about working. But now, many plan to open small businesses or work from their homes. The programme also assists women find employment opportunities in the community.
“The group is also wonderful, we love each other and we work together well. We even go to each other’s homes to cook together. Our children became friends too.”