When asked, why did you start your business? Lina, 41, from Jenin simply replies, “I love flowers!” Lina has always put in the extra time and money to make sure that she had fresh flowers in her home.
Lina began her business informally in her home three years ago. Soon after, she realized that there was much more to be learned in the field and began working at a florists’ shop. In September of 2014, Lina partnered with a fellow florist, who provided the financial backing, and opened a florist shop in Jenin, a city in northern Palestine. In June 2015, Hikayat Al Ward will be formally registered with the Chamber of Commerce. It was at the Jenin Chamber of Commerce that Lina found out about the WISE II program at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization.
A significant barrier that Lina faces as a Palestinian businesswoman is not the lack of support from the males in her life, but the lack of support from women. The women around Lina question her intentions and constantly tell her that her business will fail. The overwhelming support of her fellow female entrepreneurs in the WISE II program has been a welcomed change. Lina feels these women serve as a solid foundation to rely on when she needs support.
One of the most important concepts that she learned in the WISE II program is that in order for a small business to be successful, its product or service must be unique. Competition is very high in Jenin, which is an agricultural area, so Lina began a service that allowed Palestinians living in countries outside of the West Bank a way to send flowers and gifts to family members for holidays and special occasions.
In the business plan she created during the WISE II program, Lina plans to develop her flower arrangement business to include wedding ceremonies. She has already expanded her market base by selling holistic health and beauty products at her shop. With this growth in services, she has taken on a partner and also employs her 20-year-old daughter. Lina did not attend university however she values the importance of an education and ensures that her daughter’s priority remains her education. Lina’s lack of a college degree does not discourage her. Rather, it has motivated her to work harder because she knows her options are limited.
–WISE II Entrepreneur Lina interviewed by Outreach Coordinator Futoon Qadri