Women Create and Sustain New Income Sources in Palestine

Nablus, West Bank (December 6, 2012) — In the most recently completed phase of NEF’s ongoing support for women’s microenterprise development in Palestine, 40 women increased their income by an average of $300 each after receiving training and support from Near East Foundation (NEF) since January 2012 to establish micro-enterprises cultivating thyme.

Less than a year after the project began, the 40 participating women had a second thyme harvest in October 2012 that was productive in both crop yield and income generation. In the future they will continue to harvest regularly and support their families with this sustainable source of income.

Throughout the project, NEF technical staff trained women on seedless propagation of crops in their fields. Through this training, seven women increased their planted thyme area by 200% and ten women learned to process thyme with oregano and sesame to make “Za’tar,” which is 50% more profitable than selling fresh thyme. Combined with olive oil and bread, “Za’tar” is a common breakfast food for Palestinian families.

These 40 women have proven their ability to manage their new microenterprises and are well on their way to becoming successful entrepreneurs. The Near East Foundation will continue to provide them with guidance as needed.


The thyme initiative continues a long tradition of NEF support for women’s microenterprise development in the West Bank. The results of these efforts have been significant and sustained.

In 2011, NEF provided business development and management training to members of 10 women’s associations that had been NEF partners in a World Food Programme-funded School Feeding Program. A follow-up survey — one-and-a-half years after NEF support ended — showed that these associations had established 57 concessions in primary schools, providing nutritious snacks and other treats to children as private businesses. In 2012, these concessions created 168 jobs for women and generated $130,000 in revenue which was reinvested in their businesses and used to support their charitable work.


Now, with funding from the Rangoonwala Foundation, NEF has launched a new cycle of support for women entrepreneurs, with a goal of establishing at least 150 women-owned micro-enterprises by 2016. These women will receive assistance to:

• Identify high potential businesses through regional economic assessments;

• Develop micro-enterprise and business management skills;

• Access micro-credit for micro-enterprise start-ups; and

• Develop an enduring support system through micro-franchising and a women’s business support network.

Learn more about NEF’s program to support Palestinian women entrepreneurs.


The Near East Foundation is a U.S.-based international NGO leading innovative social and economic development in the Middle East and Africa since 1915. For nearly 100 years, NEF has worked to empower citizens in disadvantaged, vulnerable communities. 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. NEF’s “knowledge, voice, and enterprise” approach is helping build more prosperous, inclusive communities throughout the region. To learn more visit www.neareast.org.

Contact: Stacia VanDyne, External Relations
svandyne@neareast.org or (315) 428-8670

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