KHF Outreach
Noor Al Hussein Foundation Celebrates Ten Years of Innovation through Women Business Development Incubator
18th December 2012
Her Majesty Queen Noor surrounded by proud WBDI entrepreneurs, partners and staff
December 18, 2012–On Tuesday women entrepreneurs from the Bani Kenanah district came together under the Patronage of Her Majesty Queen Noor at the Al Hussein Youth City to celebrate ten years of innovation through the establishment of the Women Business Development Incubator (WBDI) in northern Jordan.

In 2002, the Noor Al Hussein Foundation (NHF), in cooperation with AIDOS and funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), established the initiative in Irbid to provide business training and product marketing to women who wanted to launch their own businesses.  AIDOS provided the needed technical assistance in the area of business management training.

In 2009, the European Union (EU) signed on to co-fund the project with the NHF, allowing the WBDI to expand its capacity by providing unique and comprehensive business development services to women-owned businesses.

Irene Mingasson, Head of Development Cooperation for EU Jordan explains why they decided to fund the WBDI:

“All our projects are selected on the basis of a competitive process where we seek proposals from [development] actors and this was evidently one of the very best,” said Mingasson,
“and you can see the success in what these women say, how it changed their lives, it makes all our work in cooperation worth pursuing.”
Her Majesty Queen Noor, who attended the celebration tweeted that she was impressed by the “wonderful stories from our women entrepreneurs about their husbands and families' support" during the WBDI training and business startups.

HM Queen Noor applauds the WBDI success

Since 2009, more than 500 women have attended entrepreneurship awareness sessions and 200 women have received technical assistance in business management, finance, and marketing.

As a result of these efforts, 46 news businesses have been established and 44 existing businesses have benefited from ongoing business training services and mentoring.

39-year old Sonia Obeidat launched her embroidery business after participating in a basic business management training course provided by the WBDI. She has also received instruction in product development and design from European designers.

This married mother of five, who has a BA in Interior Design, says launching her own business has provided her family with a new source of income which allows her to pay for some of her children’s expenses out of her own resources.

Sonia Obeidat displays her embroidery

Obeidat says she’s also gained more self-confidence and more independence, something you cannot put a price tag on according to WBDI Business Counselor Mageda Amoura:

“She begins to respect herself,” explained Amoura, “and she also gains the respect of the society and the family as well which is very important.

50-year old Yosor Mashareh can relate to that benefit. The widow launched her own business producing bamboo products after attending a basic managerial training session at the WBDI. She then enrolled in product development and training courses and has created her own accessory line using precious and semi-precious stones.

“My life became much better as I have no children and no husband,” Mashareh remarked, “I now have a new lifestyle.”  The vivacious woman with an infectious smile says she is now more socially active in her community as a result of her new-found status as a businesswoman.

Yosor Mashareh shows off her new designs

NHF’s Community Development Program Manager Mohammad Al Zoubi remarked that he’s “extremely proud of the achievements of the WBDI and the accomplishments of the women entrepreneurs who have been empowered to have a better future."

A recent independent evaluation indicated that 52% of the beneficiaries said their income increased between 10-30% after participating in the support services offered by the WBDI in Irbid.

In addition the women reported that 39% of their household income is generated mainly from the women’s business.

Funding for the project is about to end. That’s something King Hussein Foundation Executive Director Hana Mitri Shahin doesn’t want to see happen:

“Based on the model’s success which has increased family income, empowered women and changed their lives and the lives of their children,” said Shahin, “it should be scaled up and replicated across Jordan and the region.”

For more than 30 years, initiatives that are part of the Noor Al Hussein Foundation’s WAGE Program:  Women and Girls Empowerment – Securing the Future, have been providing women with the knowledge and the skills needed to expand their economic opportunities, build assets, and improve entire families’ standards of living.
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