Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
The Productive Families Center has made possible many success stories of young Saudi women who rose from poverty to become business owners after acquiring the organization's easy loans.
These Saudi women started from scratch and now own large factories and companies. Many of these factories also manufacture a traditional item called Safifa, a bridled piece of hay or other natural material. Rouqia Al-Saeed believed in the importance of maintaining traditional handicraft, which is a part and parcel of the national identity and learned how to craft Safifa, despite a weak market demand for the item.
"I started to learn how to do Safifa since I was 8 years of age. I inherited the craft from my mother and now it is almost 18 years since I started working in this tradition," Rouqia told Arab News. "I received the financial aid for my project from the center and began participating in bazaars and festivals inside and outside the Kingdom. I seek to maintain and preserve this popular and national inheritance," said Rouqia.
Another woman, Goumasha Ibrahim (Umm Waheed), who works sewing traditional dresses, said she has been working on this project since she was 15 years old. "The project gives good profits for me and helped me to pay the university expenses for my daughter," she said.
Umm Nada also recounts a similar success story. "I can continue my studies now at the university and cannot wait up to get a job. I got a loan from the Productive Families Center and bought some merchandise, clothes and accessories, and I sell them at the women's market in Unaizah to pay for my university expenses," Umm Nada explained.
Many of these women, even if they didn't become big business owners, can make a living and have hope for the future now, even if they already have finished their education. "I got a loan from Productive Families to start my project breeding livestock, I did not wait to get a job although I graduated from Qasim university," Umm Ramiz told Arab News. "My monthly income from the project exceeds 2,000 riyals," she said.
The director of the Productive Families, Khairiya Al-Tahir Deboush, pointed out that all these success stories are only a drop in the ocean of other achievements gained by Saudi women who initiated a variety of projects in the industrial, service and commercial fields. "The center extended financial help and morale assistance to these ladies," Deboush explained. "We gave loans to these women without any interests, of course, because our only aim is to encourage and support them through the integrated efforts of our teams and the board of directors and senior management," she said.