On Sunday, September 19, 2010, American small business expert Steven Strauss led a business workshop at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization (TYO) in Nablus. Mr. Strauss addressed an audience of twenty-five, including the participants in TYO’s Fostering Women Entrepreneurs (FWEN) project and invited guests from Nablus’ business community. Mr. Strauss discussed entrepreneurship strategies and recommendations that resonated with the entire audience from the young female entrepreneurs just starting out to the veteran business owners looking to break into the international arena.
Exhibiting a sound understanding of the local Palestinian context and its challenges, Mr. Strauss focused on the importance of marketing, the web and social media to drive investment and business through captivating local and international supporters and clients.
“Having a small business is a lot like being alone in a dark room: You know you are there, but no one else does,” said Mr. Strauss who went on to explain how a strong marketing campaign turns on the proverbial lights. Mr. Strauss is a world-renowned expert on small business as well as a lawyer, an author and a senior business writer for USA Today’s Ask an Expert column.
“His workshop was inspiring and encouraging,” said Saher, 27, an aspiring graphic designer and FWEN participant. “We are ready to start real businesses. We have so many of the ideas and skills he mentioned like logos and marketing. Now, we know we are on the right track.”
Mr. Strauss’ two-day program in Jerusalem and the West Bank was sponsored by the US Consulate General in Jerusalem and is one of many professional development and exchange programs that encourage mutual understanding between Americans and Palestinians. “It is a new thing to meet an American expert. They are different than experts here. It is nice to learn from them because they present a different way of thinking and a different vision,” said Aya, 22, an aspiring goat farmer and FWEN participant. “It was a great opportunity to meet him.”
In the final hour of the workshop, each FWEN participant spoke briefly about her business concept and received personalized feedback and suggestions from Mr. Strauss. “This meeting confirmed our potential,” said Hayfa, 24, a FWEN participant who aspires to start the first recycling plant in the West Bank. Per Mr. Strauss’ suggestion look for Hayfa’s profile on LinkedIn in the coming days!