Branding and Getting Better: TYO Steering Committee Meeting

For TYO entrepreneurs, their production happens in a diverse array of places: a fig orchard, an add-on room of their home with hydroponic farming equipment, a tailoring workshop in Tulkarem. But last week, they brought samples of their businesses to TYO's FWEME Steering Committee here in Nablus for an intensive discussion on how their products are made, best practices in branding, and how to further improve their packaging and pitching. After recently completing their second phase of intensive Business English courses, entrepreneurs showcased their advanced presentation skills by delivering their short pitches to the Steering Committee, explaining their business, progress made in the past months, and highlighting their product prototypes. Each entrepreneur offered various examples and samples of their offerings- whether it was a tutoring service, traditional embroidery, or types of herbal soap- for Steering Committee members to review, and lend their expertise in terms of product design, marketing abilities, and packaging style.


TYO is well-aware that branding and packaging aren't simple tasks in a place like Palestine- a lack of capacity in terms of branding experts, low export levels on regional and international markets, and little availability of high quality packaging materials tend to stint business's abilities to improve their appearance, and best appeal to a wide array of audiences. That's why an integral part of our incubation phase in the FWEME Initiative focuses on advancing branding skills, and working one-on-one with entrepreneurs to draft, edit, and refine their logos, brochures, tags, and trademarks. Over the last three months, we've brought in a host of different techniques to accomplish this, including a branding expert from the United States, marketing trainers from the Small Enterprise Center in Ramallah, and sharing some of the internal capacity from TYO staff with knowledge of packaging. To provide the most holistic approach possible, entrepreneurs met with TYO's Psychosocial Program Manager during this aspect of the process to discuss their goals and challenges, and were connected with a host of community resources relevant to their own enterprises, such as a graphic designers, Ministry of Agriculture experts, Chamber of Commerces, and local print shops.

At the meeting, Steering Committee members praised women's improvements, and commented on their confidence levels in terms of pitching, and marketing, their products. Critical feedback was also given- specifically, looking at how entrepreneurs could better represent their uniqueness and diversity through packaging, and providing detailed tips for redesigning their logos, or upping their product quality. In addition, entrepreneurs received various contacts and connections with relevant agencies or partners for their work- individuals in the agricultural industry, like Baladna Jam Company owner Tahreer Ramadan or Anabta Mushroom founder Ghada Obeid, discussed partnership with Canaan Fair Trade, which is led by Nasser Abu Farha, TYO Steering Committee member. Business owners like Nahawand Arafat, who runs a small tutoring services company, connected with Steering Committee members to advertise her services at their children's school.

The meeting itself was a pivotal point in the entrepreneurs' development- above all, it acted as a key push to encourage entrepreneurs to never quit trying, and always be eager to improve. It reminds us of a recent article from Forbes Magazine discussing how entrepreneurial communities outside of Silicon Valley can flourish- and how each entrepreneurial ecosystem requires different motivating factors to keep it going strong. A key line from the article emphasizes the importance of staying hungry, even if one reaches success- and not allowing success to a make you complacent. As we encourage women to expand beyond their villages and communities through branding, we're hoping women stay hungry- and keep preparing for success, both inside and outside of Palestine.

-Cayce, Women's Empowerment Coordinator