Training helps young Jordanians turn business ideas into reality

Nov 5, 2013

Bayan Bani Ata presents his business concept of a clothes shop to the other participants of the UNDP-RUWWAD training in Ajloun.

With a chance to turn their dreams into reality, over 50 young Jordanians from Ajloun took part in a five-day training course where they were given professional advice on how to set-up their own small businesses.

The participants, who graduated on Monday, were taught how to turn their business ideas — ranging from barber shops and restaurants to handicraft training centres — into profit-making endeavours through the UNDP project dubbed Youth Employment Generation Programme in Arab Transition Countries.

“All participants are aged 20-36 years, come from underprivileged communities and are unemployed, so the project is both needed in the local community and for the participants to build on their previous skills set,” Lara El Shawa, project manager for the implementing partner RUWWAD, told The Jordan Times on earlier this week.

With the help of a consultant, participants were taught how to implement their business ideas and learn the basics of marketing, accounting and communication to ensure the sustainability of their enterprises.

“The training gives them the tools to assess what they exactly need and have to do. This is the first time they hear about strategy, but it will help them establish projects that [can be] projects of a lifetime,” Beyond Excellence consultant trainer Saeed Omar said.

For 27-year-old Bayan Bani Ata, who wants to open a shop and training centre, the course presented a good way to assess her strengths and weaknesses.

“The clothes I make sell well among my family and neighbours, but I have to get out of the create-sell routine and think about things like marketing and finances,” she said, expressing her hope to be able to promote her handcrafted knits and crochets beyond Ajloun, some 70km northwest of Amman.

Other participants had already got the opportunity to assess the popularity of their projects overseas, but the training helped them evaluate the local market potential and feasibility of their ventures.

When Muhannad Abdul Ahmad’s cousin travelled to the US with samples of his hand-tailored traditional Islamic clothing, he returned empty-handed — everything had been sold.

“This training helped me assess whether my products would sell here too, and I found that there is demand and no competition, so I can be a leader in the market,” said the tailor, who also makes school uniforms.

“I want my brand to become as famous as Coca-Cola or McDonalds,” he added.

But not all projects were as ambitious, and for Ahmad Hassan, who has been employed as a blacksmith for the past three years, opening his own business is a matter of independence and self-accomplishment.

“I know there is enough demand, and I want to run my own business and provide jobs to other people in the future,” the 22-year old said.

Hassan, like three other participants, is illiterate, something that did not prevent him from diligently designing his future shop and presenting his blueprint to other participants.

“This community has many poorer families for whom the most important thing is to have a job, not an education, so this training is important because it focuses on their skills, and that is all they need to open their business,” RUWWAD field officer Ammar Aqel said, noting that the participants receive assistance with reading or writing whenever needed.

By the end of November, the participants will have to submit their official business plans, which will be evaluated by a panel of professional businesspeople and UNDP representatives.

The eight projects that meet the feasibility and sustainability requirements will be supported by the RUWWAD micro-venture fund and receive advice in marketing, legal advice and accounting support.

“This is an equity investment approach, it is not a loan like with micro-finance, it is a partnership,” Shawa said.

This phase of the project offers business training in Ajloun and Tafileh, but will grow to cover four other governorates — Balqa, Karak, Maan and Jerash — providing 48 Jordanians with the opportunity to set up their own business, while 500 young people should benefit from the training, according to UNDP.

“We focus on governorates where the unemployment rates are the highest and expect each micro-business created to provide employment for three additional people,” UNDP youth employment consultant Natalia Pavlickova said.

“Youth employment is a crucial issue in Jordan and in the Arab world in general,” she added.

Contact information

Ms. Nora Isayan
Communications Officer
UN Resident Coordinator's Office

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