FWEN Profile: Nehaya
Age: 25 years old
Business Plan: Traditional Palestinian Cuisine Restaurant
How did you decide to participate in FWEN? What have you gained from the program?
As a student at An-Najah University (she graduated in 2007 with a degree in biotechnology), Nehaya noticed a problem that is universal to students around the world: Because they live far away from their families while at school, many students miss home-cooked meals and crave “comfort food.” Although there are some fast-food restaurants offering delivery on campus, there is no way for students to get the traditional Palestinian dishes their mothers would have made them at home.
This idea, combined with her desire to create employment opportunities for Palestinian women, gave Nehaya the idea for her business. When she heard about FWEN from the An-Najah career office, she knew this was the chance to make her idea a reality. The FWEN training taught Neyaha valuable skills including how to write a business plan, management, marketing, and finance. She also learned personal skills such as how to interact with people around her and how to form business relationships. Her family and her fiancé have provided her with encouragement, saying “You can do it!” whenever she had doubts.
Nehaya also received a unique opportunity when she was selected to participate in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women “Women Entrepreneurs and Leadership” Certificate Program at the American University of Cairo. This five-week program in September and October 2010 allowed her to receive in-depth training in operations management, finance, and human resources that went well beyond the basic FWEN training she had received at TYO. She also enjoyed the opportunity to network with the other female participants in their program from Jordan, Palestine, and Egypt. Most of the women have already owned their own businesses for several years, and Neyaha was inspired to learn from their experiences.
What is your business plan?
In order to create her restaurant business, Neyaha will rent a kitchen near the University and the apartment buildings where many students live. Her restaurant will be the only place near the University that students can get traditional Palestinian “comfort food,” rather than unhealthy fast food. Students will be able to come to the restaurant to place orders and get take-out; they will also be able to order food for delivery. Nehaya plans to hire two employees to cook and one employee to make deliveries. She will also provide deliveries to families that are hosting large events or parties and need food.
What are your next steps? What help would you like to receive?
The most urgent step for Neyaha is to get funding for the rental of her restaurant space. Because the space is located near the University, it is in high demand, and Nehaya is afraid that if she doesn’t receive financing soon she may lose the opportunity to rent it.
While she was at the American University of Cairo for the Goldman Sachs training, Nehaya noticed that there were many small booths located around campus where students could grab salads and other quick snacks on the way to class. She hopes that eventually she will be able to create the same kind of on-campus food vendor on Palestinian university campuses.
What are your dreams for the future, and how will your business help you to achieve them?
Neyaha’s dream for her business, which will be called “Family Home” in reference to the home-cooked dishes it makes, is that it will expand to have branches near all of the major universities in various Palestinian cities. She hopes that her restaurant’s name will be associated with the idea of traditional food for students.
For herself, Nehaya hopes to become a famous businesswoman, and more importantly, to share the good fortune she has had with other Palestinian women. In the future, she would like to be able to help other women who are starting from zero the way she did, through mentorship and other support.
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