CAPACITY BUILDING FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS

Asala provides a set of consolidated capacity-building services in response to the pressing needs of rural women and insists on the necessity of providing them with custom-tailored, community-based peer training. Capacity building, training and consultancy services can be both time-consuming and costly for women. Inviting women to the city to participate in classroom training has repeatedly proven to be counterproductive as women are often unable to leave their responsibilities, including their income generating projects, for long periods of time. Road closures and checkpoints setup by Occupation Forces make travel timely, costly, exhausting, unreliable, and often dangerous. Further, the formal atmosphere of classroom training dominant by male trainers is intimidating to most of our target group. Training women in large groups is also counterproductive because the curriculum is often so generalized that it is irrelevant. 

Asala listened to the needs of women and, in launching its capacity building program, created a pool of 24 female trainers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Trainers, all of which have degrees in economics, accounting, marketing and related fields, are intensively trained and qualified to train women. Throughout the years, Asala has invested heavily in these trainers to ensure their ability to effectively deliver training in the villages, camps and cities where trainees reside. In order to minimize the burden of time needed to attend these trainings, Asala’s training is provided in small groups of women (8-15) in locations close to where women live and work.

Our trainers provide women entrepreneurs with the capacity to start, develop and manage their income-generating projects in addition to one-on-one counseling services and mentoring to ensure adequate follow-up, and hence, success of their projects.  To date, 8607 women have attended 826 Asala capacity building courses, and a number of men have benefited from Gender Concepts training.

Currently, Asala provides the following trainings:

»        Business Management and Marketing: covers both the practical and strategic needs of rural women involved in enterprise activities, and aims at strengthening their basic business and management skills.

»        Skills Enhancement: Skills Enhancement provides women with hands-on training in courses from food production, sewing, weaving, soap-making, animal husbandry, etc.

»        Gender Concepts: Gender Concepts reflects the division of roles, equity in the workforce, community and home, women in media, gender-based violence, and gender topics specific to Palestine. Understanding the role of gender helps women navigate their personal lives and manage their project through the obstacles that gender norms create in their communities.  These courses are given to women, as well as men.

»        Economic and Social Rights: Economic and Social Rights is a review of the policies, procedures, and laws related to the advancement of (and impediments to) women’s development.  This course contributes to increasing women’s legal literacy, so they know their rights as individuals and as entrepreneurs.

»        Advocacy & Lobbying: Advocacy and Lobbying marks the steps and techniques necessary to launch an advocacy campaign for change and enables the mobilization of women in claiming their rights. These courses are provided to individuals or groups of women interested in or working toward social changes in their communities.

»        Leadership & Communication: Leadership and Communication outlines and helps women to identify the proper channels and best practices for effective leadership and communication in home, work and community.

»        Get Ahead: Get Ahead combines Gender Concepts, and Business Management and Marketing curriculum, to promote the economic and social empowerment of women alongside men in enterprises.  It shows women how to develop entrepreneurial skills and obtain support through groups, networks and institutions dealing with enterprise development.

What makes Asala’s capacity building services unique?

»      Training curriculum is specifically designed for women micro enterprises; the information delivered is directly relevant to the participants.

»      All Asala Curriculum was designed in Arabic, so content is not lost in translation from other languages. 

»      Course curriculum is delivered by local, female trainers who understand the Palestinian context and are more relatable to Palestinian women.

»      Asala’s pool of Palestinian women trainers receive extensive and continuous training in order to ensure that they are constantly up-to-date and able to provide good training and counseling services to women.

»      Asala’s reputation, built on years of high-quality, relevant, and impactful services, ensures accessibility to and trust from the community

»      Asala creates solutions to the obstacles faced by women with regard to transportation and mobility.  Permanent and fly-by checkpoints, blockades and closures in the West Bank have made travel long, exhausting, unreliable, and expensive. Further, the culture does not encourage women to travel alone – especially when it is not absolutely necessary.  Asala takes its services to the women, in their communities, at times and on days that are appropriate for them.

»      All Asala trainers are women; this facilitates training women in the field, but does not limit Asala’s trainers to training women only.  Many men have been trained through Asala’s capacity building services, particularly through Gender Concepts trainings.

»      Asala can complement its nonfinancial services with financial services through its partnership with “Asala for Credit & Development” when needed; with the same gender sensitivity that went into the design of Asala’s policies, procedures, and products.

»      Asala frequently revisits its beneficiaries to determine needs and impact, and plans strategically based on the needs of women in the community.