I wanted to help families to secure extra income
Hamzah sells homemade ready-to-cook meals to restaurants, hotels and malls and works with a team of more than 10 refugee women who prepare the food. Hamze transformed his idea into a business in 2019 through SPARK’s Entrepreneurship Technical Support Programme (Bedaya), but COVID-19 hit the business hard.
Hamza Abu Zarifa didn’t just wake up one morning and decide he was going to be an entrepreneur. Rather, it was a long and arduous journey that brought him to kick off Khasitna.
In 2019, Hamzeh was only 19 years old and did not have the chance to pursue higher education. “After finishing high school I had no clue what I wanted to do, I was kind of lost in my ideas and thoughts” he explains. At the time, Hamzeh tried different professions but had always dreamed of running his own business. He joined one of SPARK’s entrepreneurship competitions in Jordan where he enrolled in a boot camp for four weeks, as well as an intensive entrepreneurship course of 360 hours. After he completed the course and the boot camp, Hamza pitched his business idea in front of an independent jury of experts and won the first prize – $12,000 – which helped him to establish Khasitna.
“The business idea came from the community I grew up in. I wanted to help families to secure extra income by giving them opportunities to work from home,” says Hamza.
His business, Khasitna, prepares fresh meals that require a lot of time to prepare, such as grape leaves, zucchini and chopped molokhia. The meals are fully prepared by women from less fortunate communities throughout Jordan. Afterwards, the Khasitna team delivers the products to hotels, malls and customers who pay subscription fees.
COVID-19 changed everything
In the first year of the business, Khasitna had more than 30 contracts with hotels in Amman, 10 malls and more than 100 subscribers. “During the first year of the business and before COVID-19, we employed more than 50 women and the business went beyond expectations,” Hamza explained.
Once the pandemic hit and the country went into lockdown, Hamza’s clients began cancelling their contracts and subscriptions. Due to the circumstances, without work for them for more than five months, Hamza unfortunately lost the team of women he was working with. His business struggled to restart even after lockdown restrictions were lifted because disruptions in the supply chain continued.
Hamza decided to partake in Economic Resilience through COVID-19 programme, funded by the Qatar Fund for Development, implemented by SPARK in partnership with Manafeth, in which he was provided with technical support through coaching by experts in areas such as marketing and sales, finance, human resources management and strategic business development. This allowed Hamza to work with experts on developing a growth plan that, once implemented, would provide the business with a runway to recover and grow.
“The coaching sessions we received helped us to manage the business finances, purchases and marketing, which are very useful to start again,” says Hamza.
Furthermore, the business was bolstered with a financial grant that gave them the opportunity to purchase much needed equipment.
“This grant gave us an incentive to continue and not give up. On the contrary, it encouraged us to continue with determination and improve,” says Hamza.
The programme allowed Khasitna to rebound strongly after the initial hit of the pandemic, and the business is now back to supporting 11 vulnerable women from underprivileged communities. Khasitna was able to regain their customer base, and is now having a clear growth plan.