Christian Science Monitor: Incubating women's businesses in the Palestinian territories
Tomorrow’s Youth Organization based in Nablus, on the West Bank, helps promising new women's businesses survive.
... TYO’s Women’s Incubation Services for Entrepreneurs (WISE) brought back six businesses that had developed a foundation from their initial women’s entrepreneurship program—Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in Nablus, and recruited nine additional female entrepreneurs by running advertisements in local newspapers, radio, and on Facebook. The requirements were simple—businesses had to have a foundation or business plan already completed, and had to be based in the northern West Bank.
Candidates who responded to ads underwent two rounds of interviews, designed not only to determine the entrepreneur's eligibility for the program, but also to assess her strengths and needs moving forward. Partnering with the Small Enterprise Center, TYO sent their final 15 candidates to one-on-one coaching early in the process in order to set their women up for targeted support and success. Additionally, the year-long incubation project will provide marketing, access to capital, and financial-growth trainings, as well as business English and social-media training facilitated by last year’s Palestinian TechWomen delegation.
When planning for an incubation center, TYO kept in mind that the conservative culture in Palestine often limits businesswomen’s opportunities to participate in meetings, classes, conferences, and other development programs. Furthermore, the psychosocial environment at times leaves women discouraged when they do not see immediate growth or results in their efforts to propel their businesses forward.
By planning programming in the mornings and weekends, TYO is able to work around many of the restrictions on women’s mobility. Not only that, but establishing the TYO center in Nablus as the base for WISE, they are able to fill a gap by being the only business incubation center in the northern West Bank geared to women, and provide support to women who may not be able to travel all the way to Ramallah, where such programs are more common. By serving as a support system to the businesswomen, Samin and Inas Badawi—a local Palestinian—provide examples of female-to-female support that is uncommon in Palestine, and try to foster the same sense of encouragement between the women they work with.
It is this model of American-Palestinian cooperation that sets TYO’s WISE program apart from other entrepreneurship trainings in Palestine. ...