Taking the Proverbial Bull By Its Horns
TYO had the opportunity to interview APWE entrepreneur In’am al-Khaidr about her livestock business and her experience as an entrepreneur in a male-dominated field. Tell us about yourself:
I was born and raised in Jamaaen, Nablus, studied mathematics at an-Najah University and worked as an employee at the Jamaaen Governmental Municipality for over ten years. After I left my job in 2014, I decided to found my own business raising calves. With money I had saved from my job at the municipality, I decided to purchase three calves. Initially, I focused my business strictly on the process of fattening and selling my calves. I buy the calves when they are one-week old, feed them for six to eight months, and once they weigh 300 kilograms, I sell them. As I generated my first profit, I used my profit to purchase more calves. Just two years ago I started my business with three calves and now I raise fifteen.
How did you hear about the Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs (APWE) program?
My interest in APWE was peaked when representatives from Tomorrows’ Youth Organization visited the Jamaaen Women’s Association to present on the program and recruit entrepreneurs from my village. While I had been running an effective, profitable business, there was always a chaotic element in it. I was unable to identify the source of the chaos but I knew I needed to address it. Additionally, I had never created a business plan and had only operated my business on a day-to-day basis.
What have you learned thus far?
When the training began, I was eager to learn how to develop a business plan. Since then I have learned how to develop sound and comprehensive business, marketing, and financial plans. During the financial planning training led by the Small Enterprise Center (SEC), I began to understand that I need to document all of my expenses as well as my income. Through the Idea Sourcing and Product Development Learning Module, I learned creative ways to increase my business’s profit. The process of fattening and selling calves takes approximately eight months and until very recently I only focused my business on this process. However, because it takes the calves eight months to be ready for sale, I would only generate a profit every eight months. After the Idea Sourcing and Product Development training, I purchased cows in order to make milk and cheese and generate a more consistent profit stream. Through SEC’s marketing training, I also learned that I must strategically pick my market and customer base where there is minimal competition.
Do you enjoy owning and operating your own business?
My business is my primary focus in life. I believe in taking risks, I love the “action” my business brings to my life, and I am fully confident that if and when I do take a risk, I will succeed. My work is historically categorized as “man’s work” and I could not be more proud to take the proverbial bull by the horns and break the sector’s glass ceiling in my village.
Vanessa, Women's Empowerment Program Coordinator
Interview conducted and translated by Futoon Qadri, Outreach Coordinator