The team at SPARK Jordan were delighted to welcome a delegation of Dutch politicians from the D66 party in Amman. Towards the end of last year, the Dutch government announced new policies in focus countries, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, to support entrepreneurship development. Therefore, Syrian entrepreneurs involved in SPARK’s work in Jordan were invited to share their stories with the delegates. 

Maaike Zeeuw, Senior Policy Advisor for D66, said on Twitter after the day’s activities: “Jordan is doing a good job, but it is crystal clear that NL support remains more than necessary. Going beyond just humanitarian aid, but really building sustainable solutions.”

Vast numbers of refugees that have escaped violence and destruction across the borders are stagnating in hosting countries without the access or ability to work. SPARK provides opportunities for Syrians to continue their higher education and access economic empowerment and entrepreneurship development trainings, while they are away from home.

The D66 delegation visited Asma Jamal Eldeen, a beneficiary of SPARK’s IEO programme in Jordan, at her micro enterprise in the heart of Amman. Asma is a Syrian woman in her 40’s, she is a mother to 7 children and employer of 4 young men and women. As such, she has the air and confidence of a woman that will not take nonsense, yet will passionately care for those in her guard. She founded her own company, Alrawda, in 2015 after moving to Amman in three years before, having fled the conflict once it reached her hometown in Syria.

Alrawda specialises in textile and cotton manufacturing, producing linens, sheets and decorative bedroom fabrics. Asma and her small team produce several styles and distribute the products to megastores across Kingdom of Jordan, such as Abdeen and others.

 

After a tour of the factory, Asma sat down with the D66 delegates to discuss the challenges she faces as a refugee entrepreneur. Asma explained that her business has suffered since the economic crisis in Jordan, particularly with regards to financial liquidity. She explained that imported products were now competing with local productions in price as well as quality, so her company needed to increase its capital in order to purchase larger quantities of raw materials to be able to compete.

The day’s activities also saw similar conversations between the delegation and other Syrian and Jordanian entrepreneurs, such as Raneem Faisal and Haitham Hamwi.

Haitham, a Syrian entrepreneur who manufactures packing machines for companies, expressed his ambition to register his business, Pick and Place, in Jordan. However, due to the strict laws preventing non-Jordanians from registering their enterprises alone, he has not been able to do so.

Raneem, a Jordanian entrepreneur empowering other Syrian and Jordanian women by employing them in her social manufacturing company in the north of the country, shared Haitham’s frustrations. She explained to the delegation how she has watched the Syrian women she works with take responsibility for their careers, which will help their hosting nation see economic growth.

“We want to give back to the country that stood with us, out of gratitude and respect”, said Asma. The entrepreneurs’ message is clear: with the right support they can be self-sufficient, provide jobs and support the Jordanian economy. The skills and experience they acquire can also be utilised for rebuilding efforts once it is safe to return to Syria.