HEBRON, West Bank — Claudia Stephan, an entrepreneur from Bethlehem, is a beneficiary of NEF and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Advancing Women’s Business in Palestine. When her business of making souvenirs from olive wood for the dwindling tourist market was failing, she began using the same equipment to make toys and wooden puzzles for children. But since her experience in this new product line was limited, she experienced difficulty sourcing the equipment and supplies that matched the quality and estimated cost of acquiring a packaging machine, nontoxic coloring products, and raw materials.
The project enabled Claudia to connect to Helda Burbar from Ramallah, also a project beneficiary, who has three years of experience working in this field. Helda helped Claudia find the supplies she needed to move forward with her business.
During the initial training, Claudia also met Sana Hazboun, an entrepreneur from Bethlehem who started a business making homemade chocolate assortments, cupcakes, and cakes. The two women discussed joining forces to develop products.
They decided that Sana will continue to build on her expanding client base providing baked goods and candy for birthday parties at schools, which account for 18 orders per month. Claudia will produce toys and wooden puzzles for children to give as small gifts. Claudia and Sana are also preparing to produce chocolate assortments in wooden boxes and wooden gifts for such special occasions as Christmas.
“The project enabled me to expand my networks and opportunities by providing me with a platform to access technical and business support, collaborate with new suppliers, and cooperate with new entrepreneurs,” Claudia says.
The project team is working with each entrepreneur to improve her marketing strategy and expand her business connections. “Clearly, facilitating access to information will help inspire entrepreneurial growth and impact the long-term viability of their businesses. As Ihab Awad, head of the women’s department at Halhoul North Hebron Chamber of Commerce, says, “We at the Chamber of Commerce are very happy to coordinate with NEF to help women improve and scale up their projects. Women need something like AWBP to help them develop their businesses.”