NEF Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in Palestine

Syracuse, NY (December 15, 2011) During the past year, 140 women in the northern West Bank have developed their skills and improved their economic opportunities by participating in trainings offered by the Near East Foundation (NEF).

Women from ten organizations benefitted from over 70 hours of training in diverse topics including: communications skills, preparing and using financial records, feasibility studies for small business, working as a team, planning, hygiene, safety, and health.

Mona, aged 60, attended all of the sessions but had a special interest in computers and accounting. Prior to the trainings, Mona had never used a computer.  As treasurer of the Beita Women’s Association, she managed their financial records with only a notebook and pencil.  Now, Mona uses a computer to improve her bookkeeping and the records of the Beita Association. “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave,” is a principle that Mona lives by, as she works to improve the lives of women in her community—and share what she has learned with others.

NEF has built strong bonds with women’s organizations across the northern West Bank over four years of work, providing training and support tailored to the needs of participants. Through its West Bank School Feeding Program (2006-2010), NEF worked with 24 womens associations across the West Bank to provide nutritionally fortified snacks daily for more than 50,000 schoolchildren in nearly 200 schools. NEF trained and mentored members of these associations to become both businesswomen and effective partners for children’s nutrition, creating jobs for 2,000 women in the process.

When major funding for the school feeding program ended, NEF used modest resources to continue training women – like Mona – in organizational management, business management, and income diversification. Over the past months, the women-run NGOs targeted by NEF have demonstrated their ability to use this training and support to undertake new and exciting projects:

  • Economic Development. Based on trainings from NEF in agricultural practices and management, a group of women from Asira village began their own business in olive seedling production. These four women and their families used skills they learned in how to germinate olive seedlings to begin a small-scale nursery to sell seedlings – and ultimately to increase their income.  The project offers a model for women’s economic development through non-traditional projects. Other women’s associations created dozens of jobs through independent small business – such as bakeries, school canteens, greenhouses, fitness centers, agribusiness, and manufacturing.
  • School Feeding. The Deir Ghazaleh, Balata, and Beita Societies will continue to supply meals to school canteens as the result of developing their skills through the NEF school feeding program. Members of these societies have benefited financially and socially from this activity, and look forward to continuing this work during the upcoming school year.
  • Home Gardening. NEF is launching a new project to assist families in starting home gardens as income generating activities in the Jordan Valley. NEF will provide thyme seedlings to 40 women in four villages, and provide necessary agricultural training in pre- and post- harvest procedures to allow women to benefit from these opportunities.

All of these efforts are part of NEF’s broad and ongoing commitment to promote economic opportunity among women in the Palestinian Territories.


The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international development NGO leading innovative social and economic change in the Middle East and Africa. Founded in 1915, NEF has worked to empower citizens in disadvantaged, vulnerable communities for almost 100 years. NEF field staff – all of them from the countries in which they work – partner with local organizations to find grassroots solutions to their development challenges. Our “knowledge, voice, and enterprise” approach is helping build more prosperous, inclusive communities throughout the region. To learn more visit

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