Amidst the turmoil of the Yemen conflict, four female entrepreneurs are offering a promising start to the future of peace in their country. In the port city of Hodeidah, Yemen’s fourth largest urban centre four female-run businesses have recently been awarded micro loans to expand their business after the training they received in business skills from SPARK’s Agri-Business Creation Programme (ABC). The businesses are in a mixture of arts, crafts and confectionary and have been breaking down economic barriers for women’s involvement in entrepreneurship.
Breaking gender barriers
Following on from SPARK’s Yemen success stories, the four female entrepreneurs are leading the way in business creation. Two businesses produce handicrafts made from palm fronds, a natural and abundant resource in Yemen from which baskets, bags, hats, fans, mats and brooms can be made, all beautifully decorated and hand made. These businesses are the most well-established and were started to create economic security and provide useful low cost products for lower income families. Fatima Mohammed Abdulfattah who runs Brooms & Mashagebs talks about her personal ambitions: ‘To own my own business, this was achieved when I receive the loan. Now I can aspire after a period of time to expand the sale of my products to the provinces and eventually to the capital Sanaa.’
The locally produced products also offer an alternative to expensive imports. Roqaya Mohammed who owns Arts Laboratory for the Production of Handicrafts expresses how she: ‘would love to see my business products accessible to everyone.’ The business builds on the passions of the four women, who have natural talents in the production of their respective business products already. Many, such as Soaad Dawod Abdullah who has recently begun her confectionary business, have been making their products at home for friends and family already, she explains why she chose to expand: ‘I see the business being popular because of people’s love for sweets, especially for Labania (cardamom flavored fudge) It sells in large quantities and this will boost my income.’
With support from SPARK’s Agri-Business Creation programme (ABC) the four women have been able to secure funds from a micro-loan company in Hodeidah in order to build on their supply and marketing. CAC-Bank has awarded the women credit of around 1,000 USD to support them in expanding their business ideas. Some, such as Bushra Salem Saeed Moqawet have noticed a gap in the market which gave her the business idea. Her business provides Henna ink to local painters who otherwise have to import the ink from larger urban areas. Bushra makes the ink locally and provides an environmentally friendly, free from chemical product. She wants to use the loan to expand into a shop where she will also supply the end customers with detailed henna patterns as well.
Promoting local markets
The businesses fulfil the women’s search for locally available and affordable beauty and home products while also breaking down gender barriers to women owned business. All the women express satisfaction with owning a business and the responsibility and independence that comes with making their own choices. They all have high ambitions as Soaad explain: ‘I aspire to achieve success in the progress and further development and excellence in my sector, to acquire vocational skills and improve on the production and sale of sweets that will improve Yemen’s domestic produce.’