FWEME Steering Committee Helps Businesses Step into the Next Phase

In June, when TYO’s FWEME Steering Committee first saw the potential participants for this female entrepreneurship project, they were just video clips on a screen and a simple paper application that briefly explained their existing micro-enterprise or startup idea. This January, though, as the Steering Committee reconvened to review the entrepreneur's progress since June, it was clear that most of the women's businesses have already evolved into far more than an idea. IMG_7766

On Monday, Steering Committee members gathered at TYO to discuss the growth of each of the 21 entrepreneurs supported by TYO through the FWEME Initiative, and draft plans for their continued advancement in the coming months. The Steering Committee- comprised of six known, highly-qualified business professionals in Palestine- provides strategic guidance and support to the FWEME Initiative, helping maintain the vision of the project while also helping entrepreneurs expand their networks.

Presented with each entrepreneur’s biographical profile and report on her business plan, the Steering Committee members made recommendations on the enterprises that should move forward into the intensive incubation phase of the project, where they will receive extensive computer, English, and professional competency training. Further, the entrepreneurs selected for this phase will also spend substantial time with trainers from TYO's local partner, the Small Enterprise Center in Ramallah, to further hone their business plans, better understand access to financial capital, and improve their ability to pitch their project to investors.

While not all candidates were selected for the incubation phase of the project, members of the Steering Committee offered strategic advice and guidance for all 21 entrepreneurs, mentioning opportunities and potential mentors in various industries. Amal Daraghmeh Masri, CEO of Ougarit Group and Middle East Business News and Magazine, shared her marketing expertise with the group, and suggested various types of advertising and tips for reaching new audiences. Dr. Khalid Barham, Director of the Korean-Palestinian IT Institute of Excellence at An Najah National University, discussed his work with several FWEME entrepreneurs that have visited his center for assistance in internet application development. Firas Attereh, Managing Partner at Hussam Attereh Group for Legal Services, offered suggestions about business registration and legalities of each project. Mazen Masoud of the Small Enterprise Center in Ramallah- who worked closely with each entrepreneur in recent months with business plan refinement- gave in-depth insight into each enterprise's budget and business plan aspects. Asmaa Masri, TYO's Local Representative and Chairwoman of the Nablus Businesswoman's Association, shared her knowledge about business feasibility in the area, and best locations for certain projects.

Lastly, the Steering Committee worked on plans for a launch event in the coming months to showcase the efforts- and excellent products- of the FWEME entrepreneurs. Stay tuned in the coming weeks to learn more about about the businesses selected- if the progress from June to January was any indicator, there's lots of advancement on the way.

-Cayce Pack is the Women's Empowerment Program Coordinator at TYO.