Halba Souk: Big Dreams for Small Producers

 

“Here we feel more reassured as we remain in our area, closer to our homes,” said Ms. Fadwa Zahraman, expressing her satisfaction at the Food and Crafts Exhibition organized in the Halba Souk located in the centre of the Aakkar Governorate. Ms. Fadwa is the Executive Director of the Fnaydeq Agricultural Cooperative that includes more than 25 women.

Ms. Fadwa Zahraman, Executive Director of the Fnaydeq Agricultural Cooperative

“Profit is not our biggest challenge,” she added, “it is rather the sustainability in securing job opportunities for women in our village by reaching new markets in Lebanon. This exhibition offered such an opportunity.”

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) established the souk in 2016 in partnership with the Ministry of Social Affairs with the support of the UK within the framework of the Lebanon Host Communities Support Programme – LHSP. Today, the souk remains vibrant and active, hosting numerous exhibitions and fairs annually. The last exhibition included about 25 associations and cooperatives from various fields and specialties.

Ms. Layla Khodr, one of the exhibition organizers, noted: “this Souk is vital; it is visited by people not only from Aakkar, but also from the surrounding areas. It offers new professionals and craft-makers the opportunity to market their products directly to consumers.”

Women exhibitors use the fair as a way to market their products and enhance their livelihoods.

A business owner, Mr. Shadi Zoabi, emphasized the ongoing development in the governorate of Aakkar, despite the difficult overall economic situation in the country.

“This market has boosted Halba’s economy and brought everybody under one roof,” Zoabi said. “It sheds the light on a group of people who are still attached to their hometown. It has also improved the income of underprivileged groups.”

By the end of 2018, LHSP projects in Aakkar have supported over 150,000 residents, improving their livelihoods and their access to basic services.

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