July 11, 2017

Yemeni farmers, armed with knowledge rather than weapons

War or no war, Yemenis are bringing their best effort to rebuild their economy and climb out of poverty and unemployment.  But that is not easy to pull off when the war-torn Arab country is constantly hunted by the shadow of political crisis and conflicts. At times, Yemenis find it difficult to float up to the surface and gasp a mouthful of air.

Out of 27 million Yemenis, 2 million are displaced and 17 million are considered as food insecure. To turn the wheel of fortune, they turned to farming. But they are struggling to find the financial resources and the know-how to plant the very first seed of their businesses. Our Agri-Business Creation (ABC) programme is meant to support these infant businesses not only financially but also through offering trainings.  

One of these trainings took place very recently, to train Yemeni entrepreneurs to become mentors and enable them to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of farmers. 250 candidates applied, out of which 30 were selected to attend the trainings along with applicants from relevant international and local organisations.

Asking the right questions is the key

Ebtesam Al Mohammedi is a trainer/entrepreneur who decided to participate in the programme to polish on her skills. She enrolled, hoping to learn new methods and gain modern tools of mentoring: “It was a great chance for me to learn more. In fact, I realized I did not know some basic concepts such as the difference between mentoring and consulting. Now I know that a mentor should know how to support young businesses by asking the right critical questions and should be able to create a suitable bed for knowledge sharing.”

A four-legged chair for Yemeni mentors to sit on

The programme had four props: the introduction, basics, tools and workshops, all designed with the purpose of developing an integrated system that will authorize mentors to teach other entrepreneurs. The event was packed with interactive sessions and fruitful discussions. Inspiring mini-lectures were delivered and brainstorming sessions brought everyone to the group tables, where they eagerly shared thoughts and ideas. Some educational games were also designed to help internalize the lessons learned. But the role play definitely outdid any other activity in terms of excitement, fun and attendance. The attendees had to take turns to play different business roles.

just a toolkit away from success

During this programme, SPARK introduced a toolkit that can help the next generation mentors effectively transfer their knowledge and expertise to young Yemeni businesses and help them sustain in the fragile state of Yemen. “It took a team of Yemeni and Syrian experts, six months to design the toolkit which is now considered to be the first of its kind in Yemen. It is designed to provide mentors with necessary mentoring tools and help them pass it on to the next generations. It can be used by other NGOs in order to achieve an integrated mentoring system and authorization process”, explained Firas Deeb, the Country Manager at SPARK Yemen.