16 days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence November 25th to December 10th

Current participation of business women in the chambers of commerce

Key gaps hindering participation of business women in the chambers of commerce

GROW empowers women in the renewable energy sector #IWD

An infographic illustrates one of the findings of Asala`s financial needs’ assessment on 1000 women entrepreneurs

An infographic on how we can improve the administrative and financial capacity of women

An infographic on the challenges facing women who obtained loans

An infographic on women's access to finance

Stories with Purpose

Powerful stories about women and female youth witnessing change in their lives as a result of GROW’s interventions.

With Big Dreams, Heyam Weaves Small Strides Towards Success

Hand-rolled and richly flavored croissant is just one of the different western patisseries the 39-year old Palestinian Heyam Ahmad Ali Hamideh, from Doha village in Bethlehem, masters. Heyam remembers how it all started, “Baking western pastries was absolutely not my typical career choice as a Palestinian woman. In fact, this choice was far away from my educational background. In 2005, I completed my bachelor’s degree in information systems from Al-Quds Open University, with high aspirations to become a teacher. After graduation and for more than eight years, I worked as part-time substitute teacher, but I was never able to secure long-term employment with my specialization.” Click on title to read full story.

Dura Cooperative Association for Agricultural Production: Winner of the 2019 Best Agri-Food Product Made by Women Award

Along the busy streets of Dura community, located close to Hebron city in the West Bank, Dura Cooperative Association for Agricultural Production operates a local market shop with all its locally made products of hand-rolled Maftoul (cous cous), labneh and dried yoghurt, as well as molasses, Za’tar, dried herbs and jams. Click on title to read full story.

“Are you Pregnant?”: A Question that Pushed Me to Establish a Small Home-based Kitchen

“Are you pregnant?” was the question that altered the life of the 34-year old Hadeer Ahmad from Tulkarem city. Smiling while remembering this incident that happened in 2006, Hadeer narrates, “After obtaining a financial and banking diploma in 2005, I got married and a year later, I had an interview at a Bank in the city. The interview went very well, and I was hoping to be offered a position. But the question, “are you pregnant?” limited my abilities as a woman in their eyes, as I discovered later that the bank refrained from employing me because of my pregnancy. I applied for many positions after that, but, unfortunately, never had an offer, until one day when I started helping my cousin in her small handicraft business. I realized that I could also be an independent entrepreneur if I want to.” Click on title to read full story.

A Small Spice Shop as a Wide Gateway to Latifa’s Dream

A shy smile and a low voice welcome you as you enter the small spice shop of Latifa Al-Qasem, a 30-year old single Palestinian woman from Hares village in Salfit, north of West Bank. “Why work? Why bother? These were the words my father uttered when I wanted to open a spice shop. The idea might have seemed a spur of the moment as I was inspired to venture into my own business in selling spices when we once had guests during Ramadan in 2013 and ran out of spices while cooking and couldn’t find a shop in our village. Today, my business reflects my journey to find suitable employment that immediately began as soon as I graduated from high school with low scores that only enabled me to enrol in a vocational training center in Salfit, where I’ve learnt tailoring and handmade crafts.” Click on title to read full story.

Mushrooming My Way into New Opportunities: How Ghada Started Cultivating Mushrooms in her House

In a room inside her house, where you can find fresh and pale mushrooms peeping out of the hanging beds, and the smell of fermented yeast is so strong that it makes you feel like you’re in a different world, Ghada Obeid, the 46-year old mother of five children, from Anabta village in Tulkarem remembers the source of her passion that triggered her to start cultivating mushrooms. She says, “I was born in Kuwait and I used to love going to the supermarket with my father, just to look at the mushroom stand. I wanted to continue my university education, but I became busy raising my five children that all have now completed their university education in communication, journalism and radiology. Although my husband has a degree in medical analysis, since 1985 he only worked for three years with low salaries and was unable to find a job later and has since been a daily wage worker in Israel. Click on title to read full story.

Beita’s Women-Run School Canteens: A partnership model between MoE and women’s associations to generate employment opportunities for women

In partnership with the Ministry of Education (MoE), GROW has supported four women’s associations to run 16 school canteens in the West Bank. To enable women’s associations to operationalize the canteens, a needs assessment was conducted at each selected school canteen in cooperation with MoE. The process of supporting women’s associations as part of the GROW project is to provide training as well as start-up support consisting of kitchen tools/ equipment and modest start-up grants (with an overall value of USD3,300 per canteen). In the village of Beita, 13 kilometers southeast of Nablus, Beita Women Development Society (BWDS), established in 2007, runs four school canteens operated by 12 women. Blanka Omar, the principle of Beita Primary Mixed School in Nablus is pleased with the partnership established with the association. She says, “As the school director for nine years, I honestly believe that this is one of the most successful years in school canteen management. Despite our experience with BWDS that had previously run a canteen in this school, this year has a different taste! The process is more organized. Canteen workers are more qualified, and the association’s follow up to their performance and work is better. The menu is diverse and includes homemade meals, which are highly demanded by students. At the beginning, I was skeptical, but the canteen was successful, particularly as the meals are nutritious. MoE school health department regularly monitors the canteen and are satisfied with its performance. Parents were also happy and were confident that their children are buying healthy and clean meals. I’m confident that this is a successful experience.” Click on title to read full story.

Passion Drives the Success of Ezees Audeh as a Young Palestinian Entrepreneur

Esees Audeh is a 28-year-old Palestinian woman from Saida village in Tulkarem. Despite her educational background in political science, she was always passionate about and gifted in the art of baking and making sweets. She started baking for family occasions and friends, but the idea that she could do it as a business came in an unexpected way. After her graduation from Birzeit University in 2013, her struggle as a young female Palestinian graduate to find decent employment opportunities began.

From My Heart to Their Stomach: The Journey of Roaa Yousef

Roaa is a 25-year-old entrepreneur from Jenin. After finishing a bachelor’s degree in accounting from al Quds Open University, Roaa began her journey as an entrepreneur together with a designer friend of hers. In 2015, they opened their own shop in Jenin, producing designer “Abaya” dresses. Roaa generated the ideas while her partner designed them. The shop showed great success despite the worries of her mother, two brothers and four sisters. Due to personal circumstances, however, her designer partner had to leave, and they ended the partnership and closed the shop. Roaa knew how important financial independence was for a woman, so she applied for a job as a clothing shop clerk where she continues to work. Since she was a child, Roaa was interested in making sweets. Her first experience was during seventh grade, when she made her first cake using her mother’s recipe but improved upon it to create a novel taste. In 2017, she began posting her handmade desserts to her Instagram page, and received great feedback from the community. In March 2019, Roaa began to supply her sweets and pastries to a local café in Jenin named Kafka, a cultural and innovative space for youth started by four young women. Roaa now makes about 1000-1200 NIS per month by selling her products to Kafka. She supplies the shop with cinnamon rolls, focaccia, milk cake, tart pastry, chicken burgers and French bread. Click on title to read full story.

Fatima and Ola: Joint Aspirations Pave the Way for a Formal Business in Cake Bakery and Sweets

After meeting at an exhibition in Ramallah in 2016, Ola Daoud and Fatima Zahalqeh became very close friends, paving their way towards an incredible partnership that resulted in a small start-up in cake bakery and sweets, now called “La Dolce”. They say passion is what makes a person come alive and this rings true in Ola and Fatima’s case.Before 2016, Ola and Fatima were separately running their home-based businesses in cake bakery. 35-year-old Ola, who has a bachelor’s degree in computer science, started her business “Ola Cake” three years before meeting Fatima. It was the first step towards her calling to find her identity after experiencing difficult times upon the death of her brother when she was only sixteen. In 2013, Ola woke up one day with an internal drive to start her business in cake bakery, which became a passion as she started baking for the family’s kids. “For years, I have felt an immense emptiness, a longing to search for my true calling and identity until I decided to open my home-based business in cake bakery,” she recalls. “Surprised by my decision, my parents were worried about the challenges facing me ahead. Although deep inside I was also scared to fail, I became more determined. It was not an easy path, and I slowly grew my business that gradually started generating good income.” Click on title to read full story.

Make a Wish: Inaam’s Healthy Food Business Reflects Her Personal Experience

Growing up as a child with diabetes, and later living with hypertension and rheumatism, a husband suffering from high blood pressure, two children inheriting Familial Mediterranean Fever, and another enduring Hepatomegaly, 47-year-old Inaam Abu Musallam from Ramallah gained a passion for healthy living. Click on title to read full story.

Despite all Odds, Manal Jarrar Taps into International Markets

The 45-year-old Manal Jarrar, a mother of four from Jenin, is an aspiring entrepreneur that singlehandedly launched and registered her own small agri-food home-based business in 2017 to become her family’s only source of income, as her husband, who was living with a disability, deceased in 2020. With a degree in office administration, she quit her job and decided to start her own business employing five female and two male workers on a part-time and seasonal basis.

Birth of New Ideas: Huwaida Seizes New Business Opportunities in a Time of Crisis

“Vivid memories take me back years to my childhood when I was a little girl, enthusiastically observing my grandmother make traditional Palestinian soap from olive oil. In 2012, the birth of my youngest daughter Mira sparked my desire to rekindle my grandmother’s legacy and establish a soap-making business, which I named after her”, 42-year-old Huwaida from Nablus recalls the genuine drive behind her business idea.

Bustling with energy, Fatima Saadeh is an inspiration for grit and determination

The story of Fatima Saadeh is one of grit and determination. Filled with energy, Fatima starts her mornings at 5:00 a.m. to prepare her daily food orders from her small kitchen. At the age of 23, and during the first Intifada in the late 80s, Fatima found herself launching her first cafeteria and serving Palestinian traditional food and dishes on a university campus. She had an aptitude for business, but no previous experience whatsoever. Fatima’s small cafeteria was the main source of income for her family as her husband was unemployed at the time. One thing led to another, and in 2006 she established her independent kitchen, which she, her husband and two sons have been operating for thirteen years. Fatima is proud when she talks about the growth of her kitchen. Surrounded by large pots and multiple food containers, she passionately describes what this business means to her as a woman. “In my kitchen, I offer home-style food. This is my world that secured the future of my children,” she says, gesturing towards her kitchen, “Without the support of my husband and sons I would not have achieved success. But a business needs money to run, and my journey was not always easy. I did not have any capital or assets to invest in my business. I had to regularly save from my marginal profits and apply for loans to grow and maintain my kitchen. I was determined to succeed.” Click on the title to read the full story.

How GROW’s Grants Helped Ruqayia Cope with the Multiple Impacts of COVID-19

Fifty-two-year-old Ruqayia Dargmen from Samou town, located 18 km southwest of Hebron, found out in July 2020 that she and her sister had COVID-19. Ruqayia is single and lives with her sister, who has two children. With a frail voice, Ruqayia explains that she experienced very severe headaches, fevers and loss of her voice, and stayed isolated at home with her sister during her recovery.

Testimonial: Fatima Budair, Pastry Production & Sweets, from Ayda Camp in Bethlehem

Fatima Budair, from Ayda Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, who works producing Ma’moul and pastries, attests that the coaching sessions encouraged her to think of entering new markets. The sessions were helpful in enhancing her knowledge in determining how to separate personal and business expenses (electricity bills, house rental, etc.) and how to determine all business-related expenditures in more detail.

Testimonial: Nihad Khalifeh, Organic Soap Business, from Ramallah

The 34-year-old Nihad Khalifeh, a mother of three children, from Ramallah produces organic soap and lotions from olive oil. Nihad’s business idea was inspired from her personal experience in using natural products to treat skin problems. Nihad felt a market need for organic and environmentally-friendly products that do not contain harmful chemical ingredients, such as cortisone and mercury. Her bachelor’s degree in chemistry along with previous work experience and knowledge in cosmetic production aided her to develop her unique “Lovely Organics” that she launched in 2018.

Testimonials from women benefiting from GROW`s Solidarity Initiative

The women-led MSME Solidarity Fund aimed to support the resilience of women facing difficulties in accessing their traditional markets, obtaining raw material for production, or who had products already available and stocked at their homes or cooperatives that were not being sold, as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns and movement restrictions.

Testimonial: Noor Salem, fresh graduate in Energy Engineering and Environment (Class of 2020) from An Najah University in Nablus

“As a recent graduate, and, given the COVID-19 lockdown, participating in the Energy-Tech online sessions was the best opportunity to make use of my time and acquire more knowledge about the different fields within the RE sector. The behavior change approach as a metric to promote and sustain energy efficiency was the most interesting topic tackled in these sessions. It was a totally new area for me, and I really enjoyed this session.

Testimonial: Yahya Razeq, mechanical engineering specialization (Class of 2020) at An Najah University in Nablus

“As a last year student in mechanical engineering at An Najah University, these sessions and exposure to speakers from different countries, was, for me, the most important part of this initiative enabling me to learn more about the solar energy field. This was my first experience with online learning, which I was initially skeptical of. Nevertheless, these sessions have been nothing but positive".

Testimonial: Nida Qatu, 23 years old, Electrical and Power Engineer, Ramallah

For female engineers, EAPs offer a bright prospect to break the unemployment barrier. Nida Qatu, a recent Electrical and Power Engineer graduate from Palestine Technical University -Kadoorie explains, “There are many electrical engineering graduates that are unemployed, and only very few have knowledge and experience in energy auditing. As a new emerging field in the country, I was intrigued to learn more about it. I am also optimistic that energy audit will unfold many possibilities as companies and stakeholders are venturing into this evolving sector".

How I Chose a Passion and Career in Renewable Energy

“I was always strongly convinced of the environmental and energy challenges we face globally, so I knew I wanted to be part of a field that was helping to tackle this.” Maysoun Sholi, a 23-year-old energy and environmental engineer from Jenin, has high hopes as she has become one of GROW’s seven nationally certified young female energy auditors, and one of the four internationally certified auditors. She is venturing into this new emerging field, and one of the female engineers that was employed by the same company in which she had a placement with GROW.

Testimonial: Afnan Abu Ariesh, 18 years, Engineering student at Hisham Hijjawi College of Technology of An Najah University

The decision to enroll in this unique specialization was a difficult one for the 18-year-old Afnan Abu Ariesh from Al-Ein Refugee Camp in Nablus. Every so often, she was told how this field is deemed for men. Believing that interior design provides a more suitable career choice for girls, her family was encouraging her to study that instead.

Testimonial: Zainab Shakaa, 17 years old, Engineering student at Hisham Hijjawi College of Technology of An Najah University

Encouraged by her brothers, the 17-year-old Zainab first enrolled in university to study Information Technology. But when she heard about GROW’s scholarship and the renewable energy field, she was motivated to shift her field of study.

Testimonial: Shaima Shalabi, 18 years old, Engineering student at Hisham Hijjawi College of Technology of An Najah University

Coming from a household of ten members, the 18-year-old Shaima Shalabi is the first person in her family and in the district of Salfit who had the opportunity to enroll in this specialization.

Women Entrepreneurs on Board for Change: The Creation of an Unprecedented Advisory Council of Businesswomen in the Ramallah and Al-Bireh Chamber of Commerce

Creating opportunities for Palestinian women entrepreneurs to celebrate their accomplishments and be actively engaged in the decision-making process within the Chambers of Commerce is the beginning of a path towards leadership that ten businesswomen aspire to achieve through the Ramallah CoC Advisory Council. So, what was the story behind launching this advisory council?

Women’s Saving and Credit as Models for Change

Established in 2005, the Union of Cooperative Associations for Saving and Credit (UCASC) a developed key financial organization for low-income people and became a national legal umbrella for cooperatives in the West Bank and Gaza. As the only legal entity to adopt the saving and credit concept and associated groups, which are in effect rural banks, UCASC plays a predominant role in facilitating access to finance for marginalized women. The following testimonials are from beneficiaries that attended the sessions held by the Women Cooperative Association for Saving and Credit (WCASC) – Jenin, a member cooperative of UCASC.