Sahar, 34, is Jordanian and is the founder of the Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative which she leads with her husband Mohamed.

In 2011, Sahar had a dream: create a cooperative that would enable Syrian and local women economically. Starting with 13 members, her initiative soon welcomed more than 33 women who now have access to project management and marketing trainings, as well as a fund that gives loans to women who want to start new projects or improve already existing ones. What they initially set up as a series of trainings to empower women, led to the creation of jobs for them. “In the beginning, we organised training courses. There were both Syrian and Jordanian women participating,” Sahar explains. “After they were trained on cooking and food making, including sweets, traditional dishes and pickles, we decided to open a productive kitchen to create a job for these women.”

Joining the cooperative made a big difference in the social status of local women. Their lives changed completely, even in the way they express themselves. [...] Women can realise their potential. Working is not a sin, it doesn’t matter what you do!

Entrepreneurship, human resources, food production, and craftsmanship, are amongst some of the topics covered by the trainings offered by the cooperative. Sahar and Mohamed are also planning to work more at the local community level, by creating youth councils and neighbourhood committees, among other things: “we would also like to improve the productive kitchen… make it bigger. [....] We would like to increase the training courses for local women; the same goes for food production,” says Sahar. “We want to support uneducated women and teach them how to start their own project or how to develop an existing one. [....] I feel happy when a woman who attended one of our courses managed to set up her own project and to have an income!”

© European Union 2020 / Johanna de Tessières

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