January 29, 2016

Success stories from the ABC programme Yemen

خلق سلسلة القيمة في اليمن – من المستفيد؟

Despite the on-going conflict in Yemen, SPARK is continuing to achieve positive results with its local partners through the implementation of the Agri-Business Creation (ABC) programme. By promoting entrepreneurship within the agricultural sector and supporting value chain development SPARK is generating inclusive employment and economic opportunities for marginalised groups such as youth and women. Below are four success stories from the ABC programme which illustrate how SPARK and local partners are obtaining these goals and helping vulnerable families to build resilience in the face of conflict.

Success Stories

Zabid Feminist Association

“the ABC programme…gave us hope in very difficult circumstances”

Hamouda Ahmed is the head of the Zabid Feminist Association for Charity, an organisation which consists of 46 members in the general association. For the last 12 years Hamouda has worked for this association, which is known for its work with various partners implementing charitable projects that focus on increasing business training and awareness. Hamouda believes that “SPARK’s strength lies in its ability to work closely with beneficiaries, communicating directly with them and putting them at the heart of all of its programmes”. The ABC programme has been crucial for giving youth back their confidence and encouraging them to use their creativity to improve their livelihoods. It is only through positive relationships with committed and diligent local partners that SPARK is able to achieve its objectives.

Hamouda’s organisation is just that, and through its partnership with SPARK the Zabid Feminist Association has developed and improved its administration, management and finance capacities, skills which have enabled the association to provide more efficient and effective support services to its many beneficiaries. “We participated with enthusiasm in the ABC programme. It gave us hope in very difficult circumstances” says Homouda, before adding: “the youth have been excited about starting their own small-scale projects at a time when most have been living hand to mouth.” Such a statement reveals the extent to which the lives of Yemeni people are impaired by current economic challenges and the necessity of interventions which provide sustainable solutions to these problems.

Abdullah Ahmad

“The ABC programme has allowed me to establish my own business”

Abdullah Ahmad is a 31 year old Yemeni with a Secretarial Diploma and big business aspirations. He lives in Hudeidah, Yemen’s fourth largest city, with ten other members of his family, including his sisters who have a talent for growing dates. It is this family speciality that led Abdullah to pursue a business which specialises in marketing this fruit and as such he wishes to further his marketing skills so he is able to effectively promote the products in local shops and thus better support his family.

The business training which Abdullah received has encouraged him to establish his own business: “though I wasn’t successful in securing a loan, the motivation and knowledge that I gained was enough” says Abdullah; “the ABC programme has enabled me to establish my own business and I am happy that I got this opportunity”.

The ABC programme has helped many disadvantaged people to unlock their skills and potential to create successful agri-businesses. The challenging socioeconomic environment caused by prolonged conflict may make such endeavours seem unfeasible. However as a specialist in operating in fragile and conflict affected states, SPARK is experienced in providing the critical business trainings necessary to start and run a business within such fragile contexts. By supporting entrepreneurs like Abdullah to develop their businesses, SPARK facilitates the creation of new employment opportunities for youth.

Ruqaia Alnami

“I will not stop here… I will make more effort to further my skills to become a more successful entrepreneur”.

The conflict in Yemen has devastated the lives of many ordinary people, but poses significant additional difficulties for women, whose marginalised economic position makes them increasingly vulnerable. After the death of her father, 25 year old secondary school graduate Ruqia Alnami was obliged to assume the responsibility of providing for her mother and five sisters. Such an undertaking is especially challenging for women in Yemen who are often excluded from the labour market. The ABC programme pays particular attention to the gendered aspect of the conflict where women’s untapped potential for value chains and local economic activity is more important than ever.

After attending awareness raising and training sessions delivered by SPARK Ruqaia was able to prepare a successful business plan detailing the economic viability of a handicraft business. Ruqaia went into business creating unique handicraft products using palm fronds.  Ruqaia found “the ABC programme gave me the knowledge I needed to handle a business”. Although initially Ruqaia had limited skills in marketing, her training gave her the confidence and motivation to call on potential customers across the city to showcase her new products.  Upon receiving initial positive feedback, she felt confident enough to take out a loan which was approved by SPARK’s partner bank. Such inspiring instances set positive examples for other beneficiaries to take similar steps. Her experiences have made Ruqaia determined to succeed, and she states: “I will not stop here; I will make more effort to increase my entrepreneurial success. My ambition is to generate enough income to allow me to pursue my studies again”.

Hassan Fayad

Hassan Fayad is 27 and comes from a marginalised group in the Zabid region. Before conflict broke out in Yemen, Hassan worked with his father in a fibre factory helping provide for his thirteen brothers and sisters. However, the intensification of conflict and the deteriorating situation in Yemen led to the factory’s closure and both Hassan and his father lost their jobs. Finding himself unemployed Hassan decided to begin a business producing date molasses: “I noticed that most venders sell date molasses in oil bottles. I had the idea to develop the product by making the packaging more attractive to customers”. Hassan is one of many Yemeni businessmen who participated in ABC programme trainings offered by SPARK in Yemen. Through the trainings he acquired business techniques essential for successful entrepreneurship: “I learned about business ethics, how to write a feasible business plan and also the importance of marketing products in a unique way” Says Hassan.

By taking advantage of the opportunities the programme offered him Hassan was able to find an alternative employment opportunity, enabling him to provide for his family and rebuild his life. “I like embarking on new ventures and I am not afraid of taking risks or failure” states Hassan; “every setback is an opportunity to learn. If I insist on continuing nothing can stop me enacting change in my life.”