Building Relationships, Breaking Isolation
Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs (APWE) is TYO’s fifth entrepreneurship program that seeks to help women in Northern Palestine establish or expand their micro-businesses. TYO provides women with the opportunity to attend psychological and social trainings with TYO’s in-house psychologist; develop or refine their business plans with Ramallah-based Small Enterprise Center (SEC); participate in a three-week business English and IT intensive; create their marketing materials after working with a branding and marketing expert; and so much more. We are in the middle of our outreach efforts to recruit entrepreneurs from Nablus, Tulkarem, Jenin, Tubas and their surrounding villages. We have been amazed by the amount of high caliber entrepreneurs we have interviewed that are eagerly waiting to be chosen to be a part of the APWE cohort. This Wednesday, TYO representatives had an opportunity to travel to Jenin’s Chamber of Commerce to interview small-business owners. We then had the opportunity to visit a former entrepreneur's flower shop to meet and interview additional people. While our trip to the flower shop resulted very successful interviews, TYO representatives also had the pleasure of sipping tea and catching up with three former entrepreneurs. The afternoon was a reminder that TYO’s entrepreneurship programs benefit women’s lives in a tremendous way. Not only do they leave the program with a new arsenal of business skills, they find community and build friendships.
According to a February 2014 Guardian article entitled Loneliness is Killing Us- We Must Start Treating This Disease, “…friendships helped…people develop their resilience and ability to bounce back after adversity, as well as an ability to gain strength from stress rather than be diminished by it. Loneliness has dramatic consequences on health. Feeling isolated from others can disrupt sleep, raise blood pressure, lower immunity, increase depression, lower overall subjective wellbeing and increase the stress hormone cortisol (at sustained high levels, cortisol gradually wears your body down).”
Isolation and loneliness are pernicious forces that can negatively women in any country, especially Palestine. Many of TYO’s former and current entrepreneurs articulate deep gratitude for the friendships and community that have emerged as a result of their time in the program. TYO is proud to not only offer women of Northern Palestine a high quality entrepreneurship program but to also offer woman an opportunity to break the isolation they so often experience.
Vanessa, Women's Empowerment Program Coordinator