There is no couch or television to furnish the lounge room of Hanane’s small home in Chtaura, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Instead, two second-hand barbers’ chairs, mirrors and a few purposefully placed shelves have transformed the room into a modest version of the beauty salon the 27-year-old, mother of two, owned and managed in Damascus.
Resourceful and determined, Hanane, like many Syrian refugees, is the sole income earner for her family. But when she arrived in Lebanon she struggled, “I was depressed. I was devastated about losing my salon in Syria and didn’t feel I could start again.”
Participating in NEF’s livelihoods project gave Hanane the skills and confidence to return to work. Coupled with a start-up grant, opening a salon became a reality. “I started with a few clients, friends and neighbors, and then I put a sign in the dollar shop. I rely on word of mouth, and now I am known in the neighborhood as ‘Hanane, the Hairdresser’.”
A year after re-launching her salon, Hanane’s entrepreneurial spirit and business has grown. She attended an advanced business training course, received a business expansion grant, and has developed her concept to meet the needs of her clients. “I now offer my bridal customers a whole package. I can do their hair, makeup and nails and they can rent a dress with a veil, even a music speaker.”
Reflecting on her achievements, Hanane is satisfied, but still making plans. “My life is different. Everything has changed. I am generating an income for my family. Hopefully, I will be able to take up a shop and move the salon out of the house.”