Nothayba Omar is an entrepreneur, through and through. When she began attending business trainings at her local Near East Foundation (NEF) Siraj Center, she brought samples of her products with her; products like fresh orange juice, homemade lemonade, dried fruits, jams, and Lebanese breads. Some of her trainers and fellow trainees have since become her customers.
Things have not been easy for Nothayba, a 25-year old Lebanese woman. Her father died when she was young, and she began working at a young age to help support herself and her mother. But Nothayba has an eye for opportunity.
When she first started out, selling figs on the street, her profits were very low and there were always leftover figs that went unsold. With the support of NEF and its local partner, Al Hadatha, Nothayba expanded her business. She decided to start drying the figs, as well as other fruits and vegetables, so she could sell them all year long. She also began selling her surplus product online.
Through business development training, Nothayba learned key skills such as bookkeeping, marketing, and basic financial management to strengthen her business’ profitability, stability, and future growth. She also received a small grant from NEF after her training to invest in her business.
Nothayba used the grant to purchase a juice extraction machine and items to start a small home restaurant. She began to offer catering for local events, like weddings and birth celebrations, as part of her business expansion.
Prior to working with her local Siraj Center, Nothayba’s monthly income ranged from 13 to 33 USD. After sharpening her financial management and customer service skills through business development training, expanding her customer base, and investing the small grant to open a home catering business, her income currently ranges from 250 USD to 300 USD a month. Moreover, she now pays her mother to help make Lebanese breads, and she occasionally hires other women for day-work when she has an abundance of orders.
NEF Siraj Centers help people move from reliance on aid to self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship, in a safe and dignified way. Since the launch of the first Siraj Center in 2015, NEF and its local partners have helped more than 3,400 people in Lebanon access services, gain new skills, and create sustainable businesses. More than three-quarters of participants report increased household income (77%) and improved self-confidence and agency (88%). NEF’s economic livelihoods work in Lebanon is currently funded by the U.S. Dept. of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and the Elmer and Mamdouha Bobst Foundation.