By Muath Freij
Jordan Times, Amman
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) An entrepreneurial initiative in Amman is helping Syrian refugees create and sell products. So far it has been a success. After starting with just five women, there are now 40 women creating and selling Syrian soaps, food and candles.
A Syrian woman in Amman is helping her fellow refugees become self-sufficient with an initiative that also introduces Jordanians to traditional Syrian products.
Lara Shaheen employs 40 women at her company, Jasmine, named in honor of her hometown Damascus, which is sometimes referred to as “the capital of Jasmine”.
The women make a range of Syrian products including handicrafts, soap, food and candles.
The work gives the women independence and the chance to mix with their hosts, Shaheen told The Jordan Times in a recent interview.
“The idea is to enable members of the Syrian community to integrate with the local society in Jordan so that they can be productive and depend on themselves,” she added.
The women can also work from home, Shaheen said, noting that flexibility has enabled the maximum number of women to benefit from the opportunity.
“I feel that their morale has been boosted,” she said. “They have moved to a stage where they can get accustomed to the reality they live in now.”
Shaheen recalled that she started the initiative with five women.
“We have also provided training to 150 Jordanian and Palestinian women to teach them to make Syrian products,” she added.
Um Kareem, who has been in Jordan for three and a half years, said that when she first arrived in Amman, she tried to work independently, selling goods in the marketplace and on the Internet.
“The idea was not successful, but when I met Lara, my situation improved,” the mother of five said.
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Meanwhile, Rana, who also works at the initiative and has been in Jordan since 2013, said it was important to her to work and help her husband with living expenses.
“I thought that I would be in Jordan temporarily,” Rana said, explaining that she started to look for work when she realized she would not be returning to Syria any time soon.