Wheels of Cheese on Market Shelves of Yemen
Hanadi Aqeel Naji is a young entrepreneur from Yemen’s third largest city, Taiz. She established her business in the dairy sector in 2016 following her participation in the Agri-Business Creation (ABC) programme introduced by SPARK.
Under ABC programme Hanadi received extensive training and coaching on how to set up her own business from scratch. The most useful of those was “learning how to write and execute a marketing plan” as she explains and adds: “It helped me increase my income.” Sustainability in development is the major focus of the ABC programme which strives to give young capable Yemenis the opportunity to enjoy their business.
Aiming at the dairy sector, Hanadi established Wellness Cheese and started making cheese using modern methods and hygienic tools. Fresh and delicious and coming in different sizes and a variety of flavors, soon the ‘Wellness Cheese’ dominated the market in Taiz. “The outstanding feature of ’Wellness Cheese’ is its high quality and long shelf life.”
Despite Hanadi’s little experience in the past and all the social and economic challenges, her determination and perseverance helped her succeed. She now, at a time of economic hardship and uncertainty, provides for herself and her family. “My business is now well known and well respected in my village and I am able to support my family financially.”
Yemen, located in western Asia, has suffered years of internal conflict and is known to be one of the poorest countries of the Middle East. The majority of the population is Muslim. Among some local communities the concept of employment for women is frowned upon.
“It is not usual for women in Yemen to start their own business, but I broke through the perceptions and taboos and proved that women too can work hard and achieve their dreams.” Hanadi takes pride in her achievement and adds: “Now the whole village appreciates me as who I am.”
“I have big ambitions: I want to make my business global”
Hanadi started small. She produced cheese and sold it to a number of locals. But this was not enough for her to make a living. Little by little she grew and gained new skills. Now she produces daily and looks forward to expanding her business globally. “The quality of my life has improved since I started ‘Wellness Cheese’. I hope to expand my business and introduce the latest technology for making cheese. Then I can reach the global market.”