Stories

Becoming an entrepreneur in six weeks
< Back to Stories

Becoming an entrepreneur in six weeks

Courses on food preparation techniques give resourceful women an edge. The World Food Programme and Save the Children provide these six-week courses in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

At a farmers market in the Bar Elias Public Gardens, 24 Lebanese and Syrian refugee women who took the course showed off their first batches of home made goods and here’s what they had to say.

Myriam

“The best tip I learned was to add the jam to the jar when it’s still hot to make the seal tight. I was doing it wrong for years!”  -  Myriam

Born and raised in Bar Elias, Myriam enrolled in the programme because she has been making jams, sauces and pickles for years but had not found a way to make a living out of it. Now that she has learned a few useful techniques, she is opening a mini-business focusing on fig jam and tomato sauces.

Amra

“As a mother, I am home a lot. Now I spend that time pickling which is quite fun and I am earning money doing it.” — Amra

Since she arrived in Lebanon from Syria four years ago, Amra has struggled to get by. Being a refugee, her opportunities to earn a living are limited. Also, taking care of her children has been her priority and meant that she was unable to leave home to find seasonal work in the Bekaa fields. Since graduating from this programme however, she has found a way to stay at home with her daughters and to generate a little income on the side.

Kawthar

“Good packaging keeps food fresher for longer. Labelling it also means we don’t risk eating spoiled food.” — Kawthar

The course focuses on all aspects of food production including suitable storage. With a tool kit provided by Save the Children, Kawthar and her fellow classmates learned that a strong supply chain involves numerous components beyond just making food. This course falls under WFP’s food for training system, whereby participants receive a stipend to buy food for their families on the days that they are studying. At the end, each participant earns a certificate of completion and walks away with a new set of income-generating skills.

Susanne

“They taught us about customer service. I added my phone number on the labels for repeat orders.” -Susanne

Managing and marketing also forms part of the course. Susanne admitted that the admin side of the six weeks was tough, but is just as important as processing because customers will not return if they are not happy.

The course is one of 90 livelihoods programmes run by WFP and its numerous partners across Lebanon, all of which are currently funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ. They are all designed to give participants from Lebanon’s most vulnerable communities new skills for future employment opportunities, wherever they are.