Raised in Tulkarem, Palestine, Rafeef, has always been a talented chef in the kitchen. Friends and family compliment her food, often requesting one of her signature dishes for special occasions. She enjoys cooking and didn’t mind doing an occasional favor for a loved one. With increasing demand however, Rafeef found most of her free time was being spent in the kitchen cooking for others. Although not a formally registered business, she started catering at small events allowing her to earn enough money to expand on the idea. That is when “Rafeef’s Cuisine” was born in 2012.
Rafeef heard about the WISE II program at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization from the Palestinian Working Women’s Society for Development in Tulkarem. She jumped at the opportunity since her main source for business development at that point was the Internet. By attending the WISE II sessions at the TYO center, Rafeef has been able to increase her network and expand her market to include Nablus. Through professional development intensives, she has improved her English skills and has created a Facebook page to further publicize her services.
Rafeef’s timid personality was a major barrier for her on a professional level in the beginning. Through the WISE II program, she has developed the skills necessary to speak publicly and promote her business venture. Rafeef’s self-confidence, in herself and her business, has grown profoundly which has allowed her to more effectively negotiate the terms of services with her clients. The biggest barrier that remains in being a successful businesswoman is that she is frequently not taken seriously. Many in the community perceive her business as merely a hobby. In the market, she is often harassed and customers attempt to take advantage of her because of her age and gender.
Through the WISE II program, Rafeef has come to appreciate the value of her self-worth. Although she is happily married with kids, she has learned to be independent and to rely less on her husband. Taking care of the household is a full-time job, but she appreciates her value as a woman outside of the home as well. Not only does her business provide an additional income for the household, but it also serves as a symbol to women in the community.
With the help of the WISE II program, Rafeef hopes to further improve her English and IT skills to more effectively market her business. One day she aspires to have her own line of food products.