FWEN Wraps Up Successful Year with Retreat in Ramallah

The Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in Nablus (FWEN) program brought a successful year of training, mentorship, and business creation to a close with a retreat at the Movenpick Hotel in Ramallah from Thursday, December 9, to Saturday, December 11. The 12 women participating in the second phase of the FWEN program benefited from a weekend together to brainstorm and evaluate their progress, as well as to take part in several informative workshops. On Thursday evening, Sandra Khoury spoke about how working women can strike a successful balance between professional and family responsibilities. Mrs. Khoury is General Manager at Pharmacare PLC and has significant experience with women's and youth development programs in Palestine.

On Friday, Esperanza Tilghman, Public Diplomacy Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, led a workshop on public speaking and presentation skills, and continued an informative question-and-answer session with the FWEN women over lunch.

Throughout the retreat, TYO staff members Suhad Jabi, Psychosocial and Program Specialist, and Fatima Irshaid, FWEN Project Manager, led a number of sessions allowing the women to address personal growth and evaluate their progress in the program thus far. Suhad emphasized interpersonal skills and healthy ways of addressing emotions such as fear and anger. During the final program evaluation, the women highlighted new skills they had learned through the FWEN trainings, including time management, problem-solving, self-confidence, self-expression, and professional communication.

Finally, the chance to leave Nablus for a weekend had some additional benefits for these budding female entrepreneurs. Project Manager Fatima Irshaid says that for many of the women, the retreat was the first time they had been in a hotel and it was an exciting new experience for them. The women took advantage of the luxury and privacy of the hotel to relax and get comfortable; they changed out of their formal clothing and finished up the retreat in their pajamas. Fatima observed that in addition to learning new skills during the retreat, the participants were "living something new." She noted that over the course of the FWEN program, many of the women have changed their opinions on what constitutes appropriate behavior for females in Palestinian society. This newly acquired courage and openness can only help them to succeed in the future as entrepreneurs.