WISE II Entrepreneur Profile: Sa'eda
From Beit Leid in Tulkaram, Palestine, Sa’eda, 46, always had a passion for learning. In 1993, she received an Associate’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education in Jordan and went on to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Al Quds’ Open University in 2007. In between earning her two university degrees, Sa’eda worked at a preschool while taking courses in pediatric rehabilitation. She utilizes these skills every summer when she returns to Jordan to work with children at a summer camp.
As a young child, Sa’eda’s mother taught her how to make traditional Palestinian embroidery. This cherished tradition from her childhood is something that she has held on to throughout the years. Although she values the history of embroidery, Sa’eda realized that the times have changed and that traditions should adapt to them. The idea of starting an industrial embroidery business began three years ago when she recognized the market need. A custom designed embroidery piece can take several months if done by hand. By using an industrial machine to produce embroidery, it is quicker, cheaper and has a cleaner finish. Currently Sa’eda operates informally out of her home, producing handmade Palestinian embroidery pieces for friends and family. Once she is able to purchase the necessary machinery to industrially manufacture products, she intends to formally register her business with the Tulkarem Chamber of Commerce.
Sa’eda has been an active member of the Beit Leid community election committee for over a decade. It is through this work that she heard about the WISE II program at Tomorrow's Youth Organization at the Tulkarem Chamber of Commerce.
Like many other aspiring female entrepreneurs in the region, Sa’eda’s biggest barrier has been gender norms placed on her by society. Her village is not very accepting of professional women and has even tried to shame her husband for allowing her to work. In return, he prevents her from working on her business until all of the household duties are complete. That has not dissuaded Sa’eda from pursuing her dreams; it has just motivated her to work even harder.
The most important tool that she has taken from the WISE II program is her business plan. Other business courses Sa’eda has taken in the past have never focused on the business or financial plan. Through the business development intensives provided by the Small Enterprise Center (SEC), her outlook on marketing has developed and is now able to reach a broader clientele base. Sa’eda realizes the amount of time and effort she must put into her business for it to progress in the right direction. As a result, she has been very proactive by contacting factories and other embroidery businesses in search of machinery to be donated or sold at a low cost.
In the past Sa’eda lacked self-confidencein her business and the ability to market herself, especially in terms of her English speaking skills. Through the business English courses offered in the WISE II program, her level of confidence has increased tremendously. Although her dream of starting an embroidery business that utilizes industrial machinery has yet to become a reality, she believes that the WISE II program will change that.
-WISE II entrepreneur Sa'eda interviewed by Outreach Coordinator Futoon Qadri