Nehaya Saifi, 26, is a standout member from TYO’s cycle one Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in Nablus (FWEN) project, who returned for our current project Women’s Incubation Services for Entrepreneurs (WISE).
Though she was fond of the sciences and graduated as a biotechnology major from An-Najah University, the career path she chose to pave following her studies was related to a very different one of her passions, cooking. After university, Nehaya’s goal was to stabilize her personal finances, and more importantly improve the overall poor economic situation across Palestine. That coupled with the need she saw for university students to have healthy meals served fast, and her knack for traditional Palestinian cooking made it clear what she could do to help – open her own restaurant. Nehaya joined FWEN in 2010 and after a year of business development training, was able to register and open Family House Restaurant. Family House Restaurant not only targets university students – offering an array of Palestinian home-cooked meals, served fast and at an affordable price – but also to businesses and large parties for catering services.
After completing business development training with FWEN, Nehaya received a 5,000 USD grant from YMCA Nablus, which allowed her to rent a space for her restaurant and buy supplies to fill the kitchen. After about a year, once her business had a steady stream of clients and some profit, she was able to invest the profit back into her business to hire two female employees. While her employees run the restaurant during the day, she is able to work full time as a food inspector – using much of her salary to invest back into her business.
Nehaya’s determination is apparent and has been recognized by organizations like the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women who selected her to be a part of their Mentor/Mentee Program, and Goldman Sachs who selected her for their 10,000 Women project. Her success has been an inspiration, but she is not satisfied with all she has already earned, and hopes to expand her restaurant into a chain. Nehaya hopes that through WISE she will be able to network with people who believe in her business and want to invest.
Now a working-wife and mom, as well as a businesswoman, in two years Nehaya has come a long way, and believes the following are her top three areas of improvement:
She advises budding entrepreneurs,
Keep driving to your goals despite the obstacles you find along your path. Work hard and endlessly to see your business succeed, even if it means having sleepless nights sometimes. Most importantly, do not be shy!
We are very proud to share Nehaya’s journey and hope to continue bringing news of her success. We will keep you posted on her accomplishments with the help of WISE throughout the coming year!
Samin is the Program Coordinator for Women’s Empowerment Programs.