Mentorship Lays Foundation to Successful Enterprises

Hajar holding baked goods

Name: Hajar Abneyyeh El Owaneh
Age: 37
Date: 28 November 2020
Governorate: Karak
Domain of Change: Financial
Value Chain: Food Processing

After completing her high school education, Hajar enrolled in courses that taught computer skills while also continuing to be heavily involved with community initiatives, particularly with community-based organizations (CBOs) who supported people with disabilities. With the CBO, she could make approximately 40 JOD (CAD $73) per month from volunteering. When Hajar got married at the age of 24, the area in which she lived was quite isolated and lacked the job opportunities that she sought. Despite this, she ran her own business selling housewares and clothing for a modest profit which allowed her to cover the basic needs of her three children. In 2016, family responsibilities and difficulties in maintaining decent profit margins made her cease her business after four years of operations.

Two years ago, when her children were able to take care of themselves, Hajar returned to the CBO with which she had volunteered previously (The National Association for Community Rehabilitation) to work as an administrative assistant. Due to unstable financial conditions, the CBO could only afford to pay her salary (200 JOD/CAD $367 per month) every 2-3 months. Due to the demands of her family and her job, it was also difficult to achieve any semblance of work-life balance.

A representative of the Durat Al Manal Company, a business partner of Environmental Laboratory (EL), visited the CBO to promote the Jordan Valley Links (JVL) project and to mobilize potential women and youth entrepreneurs as both entrepreneurs and potential employees. Shortly after the visit, Hajar called the company expressing interest in the JVL project. When EL’s training courses began, Hajar not only participated in every course but acted as a voluntary focal point between EL and her community. She was subsequently offered a job packing and wrapping products for a daily wage, eventually earning 117 JOD (CAD $215) per month.

The trainings that Hajar received from EL focused on food hygiene, as well as microbusiness management. Not only did the training improve her self-confidence, it also helped Hajar correct her hygiene practices of the past and apply improved food safety and handling to her own business. Of the 200 women who began training with EL, Hajar was one of the 25 women shortlisted to receive advanced training. Currently, she is working with the other women on establishing a production kitchen – with support of a matching grant from MEDA – which will produce in-demand food products for surrounding communities and eventually for larger areas such as Amman.

“I feel very enthusiastic about the opportunities that have opened up for me ever since I got involved with EL and the larger JVL project,” Hajar expressed cheerfully. She feels similarly to when she was a child helping out her family on their farm. One day, she hopes to establish her own business which will fill a demand of her own community and allow her to support her family. Reflecting on this, Hajar says, “I am happy to be an income generator who can contribute to the household expenses and be a real partner to my husband.”

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