Unsold Cucumbers Change Local Woman’s Life
A Jordanian woman turns green vegetables into a successful business
Mahmoudeh Al Dayyat never thought that 15 kg of cucumbers would change her life.
It was some three years ago when the Jordanian mother of six was visiting a vegetable farm in Balqa, Jordan. Sitting outside enjoying the cool shade and breeze, Mahmoudeh kept eyeing the box of unsold cucumbers lying in the corner. The green batch gave her an idea, and it was not too long before the farm owner generously offered to give her the box. That box was the key to change her 18 years of marriage which were full of repetitive days taking care of the house and children, cooking, and cleaning. She wanted to do more but never knew how, and that day at the farm she figured it out.
“Using the cucumbers, I decided to make pickles to sell to my neighbors and friends”, says Mahmoudeh. With her husband’s support and despite her uncertainty and the community’s discouragement, she pickled the cucumbers to sell to the local market; she made small revenues. “I believe that a woman plays a huge role in the community, not only as a housewife who raises children and takes care of the household, but also as an income generator able to support her family financially just as I do”, says her husband Yousef, as he sits on a flower-patterned beige mattress in his home looking proudly at his wife.
The few successes fueled her to work hard to overcome the family’s financial burdens; undeterred by some of her failures selling pickles, Mahmoudeh opened a small store for home supplies and foods. Unfortunately, the store continuously made losses, leaving her and her husband wondering what the problem was.
In May 2018, the 36-year old mother registered with MEDA’s Jordan Valley Links Project (JVL), and joined a training held at the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD). “At the beginning I used to attend just to avoid my friend’s nagging. I wasn’t sure whether I would benefit from the training,” said Mahmoudeh. During that time, she was frustrated with pickling after an unsuccessful process led her to lose 50 kg of cucumbers.
The training, with funding from Global Affairs Canada, provides women entrepreneurs with classes on technical food processing, business planning, and book keeping in the food processing sector in Balqa and during one of the sessions, Mahmoudeh realized what went wrong in her pickling process. “The problem was with the portion of salt!” she exclaimed. On her way home, she purchased cucumbers with JOD 3 (CAD 6) to test the new approach she learned. She was satisfied with the results.
“Recently, I bought another 50 kg of cucumber and pickled them; they are crunchy, the right shade of green, and have a great taste, thanks to the training,” Mahmoudeh mentioned cheerfully and added that she had marketed some samples for school teachers and hospital nurses in addition to a wholesaler in Amman. They were impressed with the quality and are waiting for their orders of pickles to be ready.
Not only did she benefit from the technical training, but also from the bookkeeping sessions that guided her to document all the sales, even the products she gives out for free to friends and relatives. Confidently, Mahmoudeh registered her home-based business and started to issue receipts and vouchers that regulate all her financial transactions. “I was dealing with a merchant who tried to deceive me with the price, I had kept the invoice and showed him the original price”, she said. She used the skills she learnt to improve the store’s performance and she now displays her pickles on the shelves.
“Mahmoudeh’s level of self-confidence, determination and courage is remarkable. She is now ready to produce 500 and 600 kilos of pickles a week”, Yousef proudly stated. He also praised her recent improved ability to control house expenses, running a small business, and better managing her responsibilities, all as an affectionate mother. His support and encouragement to his wife is constant; after returning home every evening, Yousef sits in the store helping his life partner chase her dreams and sell the next batch of .