Hanaa overcame social constrains and became a business owner

In a community where women’s employment isn’t socially accepted, Hanaa emerged as business owner changing the perception of her community about women’s employment.

Social norms as barriers to women’s economic empowerment

Hanaa, a 30-year-old mother of 3 coming from Giza, initially grappled with the constraints imposed by societal norms that limited women’s opportunities for employment outside the home. Despite facing financial hardships, her husband expressed reservations about her pursuing a career, citing concerns about societal judgment and her ability to navigate unfamiliar professional terrain.

Hanaa at the training centre.
Hanaa at the training centre.

Saving to invest

Hanaa’s outlook changed upon discovering the Strengthening Women Entrepreneurs in Egypt (SWEEt) project. Recognising it as an opportunity for personal growth and economic empowerment, and encouraged by her sister, she enthusiastically enrolled in the programme with hopes of fostering independence and boosting her family’s financial stability. The programme commenced with foundational sessions focusing on women’s economic rights, financial literacy training, and the formation of savings groups.

Participation in the savings group enabled Hanaa to hone her financial management skills and foster a network of supportive peers. Her aptitude and dedication shone through, particularly during vocational training in macramé, a craft she swiftly mastered, surpassing her peers in proficiency.

Utilising skills to start a business

Upon completing the vocational programme and spurred by her newfound skills and confidence, Hanaa, along with her fellow savings group members, ventured into entrepreneurship, founding “Macramé Art”. Their journey began modestly, utilising pooled savings to procure essential materials and leveraging social media platforms to market their creations. Rapidly expanding their network, their reputation transcended local boundaries, attracting attention from a tourist gift shop owner who facilitated their entry into the international market.

Driven by a shared commitment to uplift their community, Hanaa and her colleagues aspire to establish a prominent platform for handmade products in their locality, ensuring sustainable support for families like theirs. Notably, Hanaa’s entrepreneurial success has not only strengthened familial bonds but has also earned her husband’s pride, marking a significant shift from initial skepticism to staunch support.

Hanaa with members of saving groups
Hanaa with members of the savings group.

Undeterred by challenges, Hanaa remains resolute in her pursuit of entrepreneurial excellence, spurred by the transformative impact of the SWEEt project. Her determination echoes through her declaration of intent to persevere, irrespective of the project’s outcome. With firm resolve, she asserts, “I am determined to pursue this dream, even if we do not emerge victorious in the project’s competition. We will explore alternative avenues to continue our journey towards realising our aspirations.”