March 5, 2023

E-commerce platform launches home-based businesses to scalable companies

Celine Bosheh, the founder of Celine Ceramics, and Hanady Alzanoon, the founder of Bedouin Spirit, share insights on how digital platforms can elevate small businesses into larger-scale enterprises. They explain how digital platforms can help small businesses transition from home-based operations to gaining worldwide access.

In December 2022, The Workers’ House released a report indicating that only 18.1% of women of working-age in Jordan are employed. This high unemployment rate has led to an increase in home-based businesses, as reported by the REACH Initiative in 2021, with around 120,000 registered and likely many more unregistered, operating in the country. Advancements in social media and other technologies have made it easier for small businesses to expand their reach and sales from home. However, despite the many advantages of home-based businesses, they still face challenges to their expansion such as limited access to funding, new markets, exports and marketing.

Handicraft businesses flourish

Celine Bosheh, a 24-year-old Ceramic Design graduate, was inspired her to venture out on her own, leading her to launch a local enterprise called ‘Celine Ceramics’. She offers unique ceramic plates, vases and bowls that are hand-crafted with care and expertise, setting them apart from anything else available in the Jordanian market. “Ceramics, for me, is therapy and I turned it into a source of income,” says Celine. 

Hanady AlZanoon used to work as a seamstress with her mother, designing culturally-inspired, made-to-order garments, homeware products and gifts for tourists. With her creative ideas and designs gaining in popularity and demand, Hanady decided to launch her own brand, ‘Bedouin Spirit’.  “Our brand is rooted in the Jordanian Bedouin lifestyle, and most of our customers used to be expats living in Jordan,” explained Hanady.

E-commerce platform for home-based businesses 

Both Celine and Hanady were eager to grow their home-based businesses and explore new markets and customers beyond Instagram. One of the biggest obstacles they encountered when they started their businesses was marketing and attracting new clients. Joining  SPARK’s Economic Resilience through COVID-19 programme, which is supported by the Qatar Fund for Development, they gained access to SouqFann, an e-commerce platform that connects artists, artisans, and handicraft producers throughout Jordan to new markets.

As part of the programme, they received specialised mentorship and coaching in marketing, packaging, and showcasing their products on SouqFann. The platform provides them with the necessary tools to market their products, showcase their stories, and offer payment, delivery and customer support services. 

Expanding their skills, customer base and revenue

By joining Souqfann, Celine and Hanady were able to expand their online sales and generate more revenue. Hanady mentioned that after joining SouqFann, the number of orders they receive increased significantly. With the increase in orders, Hanady and her mother were able to scale their operations by hiring five seamstresses to join their team. “

For Celine, selling her products online is highly cost-effective as she no longer needs to set up a physical store. She explained, “The overhead costs associated with maintaining a physical store, such as rent and utilities, can be eliminated, which reduces the overall cost of doing business.”

At the core of SPARK’s interventions is the promotion of gender equality, which contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As part of this programme, 50 women, including 13 refugees, joined the Souqfann platform to grow their businesses, following in the footsteps of Hanady and Celine. By bridging the gender gap digitally, SPARK and its partners aim to create opportunities to enable women entrepreneurs to flourish.