KHF Outreach
Women Business Owners Gain Confidence Participating in Souk Jara for First Time
24th May 2012

Iman al Zoubi at Souk Jara May 18, 2012

32-year old Iman al Zoubi is far from her home in Bani Kenanah in northern Jordan where she has been making handmade soap products for the past 2 years. She and three other women launched this business venture in April 2010.

They began by selling their homemade soaps to neighbors. Then after receiving managerial and technical training from the Noor Al Hussein Foundation’s Women Business Development Incubator (WBDI) in the Sama Rosan village they expanded their business, selling their products in showrooms in Madaba, the Dead Sea, as well as in a small shop on Rainbow street in Amman and in the incubator’s showroom.

Zoubi also started up a catering project in October of 2010 with help from the WBDI.

The married mother-of-four hopes her new business ventures will supplement the family’s income. Her husband, who is retired military, receives a pension and works part time.

Zoubi hopes participating in Souk Jara will provide her with an opportunity to expand her customer base.

“I’m very happy to be here,” she remarked. “The people are seeing my products so they’ll know who I am and order my products.”
Her product line – which includes chamomile, lavender, and Indian fig soaps seemed to be a hit with some of the customers who visited the WBDI booth at Souk Jara, a weekly outdoor souk held in an historic neighborhood in Jabal Amman on Fridays.
Al Areej Soaps at Souk Jara

“First of all I love handmade soaps,” remarked customer Khadijah Al–Omoush, “I love lavender but I really like the cause that the women are supporting themselves, I think that’s great so ‘yeah’ for women’s businesses in Jordan.”  

By the end of the day Zoubi’s Al Areej Soaps racked up 98 JDs worth of sales which she will share with the other three women running the business.

50-year old Yosor Mashoor also relished the opportunity to meet with the public while displaying her hand weaved wicker baskets.

“I hope to benefit as much as possible,” she explained, “the part I like the most is the contact with the people…to meet new people and to engage with them.”

Yosor Mashoor greets customers

With her big smile, sales seems like a good fit for the widow who is living off of her husband’s pension.  Mashoor, who also makes accessories, earned 27JDs at Friday's Souk Jara.

29-year Manar Odat displayed her gourmet herbs-including rosemary leaves, mint, and thyme and fresh mushrooms at the WBDI booth.  The married mother of three boys hopes her “mushroom project” will help provide the family with much needed income.

Manar Odat's gourmet herbs at Souk Jara

Her husband does not have a job and farms a small plot of land with olive trees that the family owns in northern Jordan.

Odat says the training she received from the WBDI in the Sama Rosan village taught her about food safety and mushroom farming.  It also helped her to learn about marketing and labeling.   She remarked that she likes the feeling of independence the project has provided her and she now considers herself a "Jordanian cultivator".

“It keeps me busy and makes me feel like a small project manager,” she remarked.  Odat also hopes the project will help her family improve its bottom line.  

While Odat’s sales on Friday were slow, the WBDI International Project Coordinator Alessia Piva who works for the Italian Association for Women in Development (AIDOS) remarked that for women like Manar Odat, getting out in front of the public for the first time is an important step.

“The income, in my opinion, in this special event is secondary,” remarked Piva.  “The most important thing is having the will to come out here to show their smiles and to connect with the customers.”
Yosor Mashoor, Manar Odat and Iman Zoubi at Souk Jara

And smile they did.  By the end of the day the take home from the WBDI booth was more than 180JDs.  The Noor Al Hussein Foundation (NHF) is sponsoring the booth at Souk Jara which will continue to display products from women businesses owners on a rotating basis every Friday at stand #32.

In 2002 the NHF, in cooperation with AIDOS and with funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) established the pioneering WBDI in the Bani Kenanah District in northern Jordan to encourage entrepreneurship and to provide unique, comprehensive services to women-owned enterprises.  

In 2009, the European Union (EU) co-funded the project, which has since expanded its capacity providing unique and comprehensive services to women and family owned enterprises.

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