The kitchen in Ramia’s rented home in northern Lebanon may be small, it is where the mother of four has transformed her grandmother’s ‘mouneh’ recipes into a growing business.
‘Mouneh’ (from the Arabic word mana – to store) is the pickling and preserving of fruits, vegetables, and herbs harvested during seasons of plenty. It is a practice that goes back for centuries and is an important part of the Middle Eastern kitchen.
“I can remember from my childhood, my family working together to make ‘mouneh’. Since I was young, we would all work side by side, brothers, sisters, cousins. It was a beautiful time,” Ramia recollects.
Since 2012, Ramia and her husband faced the persistent challenge of making ends meet. Ramia explained, “My husband works day-by-day, I needed to work on something that I knew and could provide support for our family.”
Readied with her family recipes and a determination to succeed, Ramia participated in NEF business development training and created a business plan. Her plan, one of 840 to be approved under the livelihoods project since 2017, secured her a cash grant, and she took the first steps to establish her business.
One year on, Ramia supplies a network of local outlets, updates her regular clients via a WhatsApp group and welcomes a constant flow of customers to her home.
In June 2018, she received a NEF expansion grant and has invested in improving her workspace and expanding her range of products.
Reflecting on her journey, Ramia reveals, “Before this, I felt I was nothing, but now I am doing something for myself, for my family and my community. It’s now very easy to pay the rent and the bills. When my children work alongside me they ask me to tell stories of my childhood. It makes me very happy.”