A New Business, A New Beginning
For Zainab(*), everything had once been so different. Although she lived with her family in one of the more marginalised communities in Mafraq, they had always been comparatively well off. Zainab and her husband owned a small restaurant in the town, and had enough money to buy a pick-up truck for delivering produce to the business and for taking their six children to school. The family had earned enough money over time to buy their own house, and could expect to retire comfortably as they reached old age.
However, the untimely death of Zainab’s husband wrecked these dreams of retired bliss. As well as the emotional loss felt throughout the family home, Zainab and her children soon had to contend with a number of other problems that emerged as a result. Zainab had continued to run the restaurant business as before, but soon experienced harassment and malicious gossip in the community. As more vocal and mean-spirited community members felt it inappropriate for a woman to run a restaurant business and drive a pick-up truck, a weakened Zainab decided to sell her business and grieve in peace. It was her only source of income.
As time went on, the family’s problems grew. One of Zainab’s sons was diagnosed with cancer, and would soon require substantial care. A second son was attempting to study at university, with the money needed for tuition fees swiftly running out. Zainab resolved to reverse the decision she had made before, and began thinking about ways to begin a new business altogether.
Zainab approached the JOHUD poverty alleviation program’s microcredit unit looking for 1500 JD with which to open a clothing store in her hometown. The business acumen that had helped Zainab and her husband succeed in their restaurant business was still there, and her request for a loan was granted.
The decision to grant that loan has had a profound effect on the family’s fortunes. As expected after her former business success, Zainab’s clothing business was profitable and in high demand. The family now earns enough money to send one son to university, buy basic necessities, and pay for cancer medication. In fact, the business has been so successful that Zainab plans to expand her business and open a second branch in a nearby town.
For JOHUD staff, it was clear from the start that Zainab had the intelligence and skill required to make and run a successful business. For this reason, it is important that our independently-minded staff continue to play a role in funding local businesses; without them, outdated community attitudes are able to force talented entrepreneurs out of the market altogether, at great cost to the individual and the community at large.
*All names have been changed to protect the family’s confidentiality