by Saundra Lambertsen
Tomorrow’s Youth Organization, founded in 2008 is a Nablus based NGO, supporting women on issues of family cohesion, youth development and community volunteerism. Its mission is to enable children, youth, and parents in disadvantaged areas of the Middle East to realize their potential as healthy, active and responsible family and community members.
Founded by Hani Masri with headquarters in the United States, this trail blazing community advocacy group is also known for its steadfast belief that organic development is the most sustainable when it comes to international advocacy. Recent outreach efforts finds TYO also firmly planted in Lebanon and headed to Jordan with the same successful program models targeting women and youth, emphasizing their support of underserved communities in Palestine and the greater Middle East region.
Gender equality, empowerment & entrepreneurship
The key to TYO effectiveness has been innovative programming and strategic partnerships with like-minded international advocacy groups such as The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women (CBFW). This approach enables TYO to reach out to women for gender equality, empowerment, and entrepreneurship. Known originally for non-formal early childhood education, Country Director, Humaira Wakili, saw a need to go beyond the younger generation and connect with people who influence them on the home front—the woman of the house. Wakili refers to this concept as the “Multigenerational Approach” for strongest impact to program beneficiaries, allowing them the best opportunity to reach their fundamental needs and individual goals. The Women’s Group is directly aligned with youth programming, supported by subject-matter experts who address issues in daily life and includes education, training, mentoring and self enrichment activities on a weekly basis.
Additionally, women’s empowerment programs were established to follow Cycle I and Cycle II structured models in addition to the regularly scheduled Women’s Group activities. Notable are the Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in Nablus (FWEN) and Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East (FWEME) initiatives, both a part of Cycle I programming. Together with Cherie Blair, global philanthropist, British barrister, and former First Lady of the United Kingdom, this strategic community outreach makes it possible for female entrepreneurs to develop and manage their own businesses and realize their dreams all the while supporting their families at home.
Business knowledge and technology skills
Cycle I is a two year program which targets 90 female entrepreneurs in the Northern West Bank, Palestine and Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. This four step program structure begins with candidate selection during a 4-day period with immersion training, coaching and mentoring. The second step comprises business planning with a view to secure financing followed by step three at which time business plans are selected to be incubated. Finally, there is incubation through training, support, and business expansion with an emphasis on marketing, distribution, financing, and networking which wrap up this two-year exercise in entrepreneurial pursuits. The beneficiaries include 90 women who increase their business knowledge and technology skills, 40 women who receive individual coaching and create business plans and 20 women who will incubate their businesses.
Incubators for entrepreneurs
Cycle II follows this lead and offers Women's Incubation Services for Entrepreneurs (WISE), in cooperation with the PalTel Group Foundation. This initiative provides support services and professional development and training as a platform to facilitate growth and sustainability. TYO works directly with Small Enterprise Center and Souktel, offering training course and mobile technology services. This is a one year program, highlighting relevant topics like marketing, venture capital access, IT and business communications in English. During the course of this one year program, 20 female business owners will directly benefit and more than 100 local community members will be positively impacted by WISE program initiatives. A local steering committee is made up of business leaders, project partners and staff who guide the incubation process.
Sahar Dwaikat, super-star
TYO super-star, Sahar Dwaikat, is a stand out entrepreneur born and raised in Nablus. She owns Flyer Ad company which designs, manufactures and distributes promotional materials such as leaflets, flyers, business cards and other print advertisements. Each client’s order is tailored to their purpose, preference and satisfaction with the consideration of specific needs of their target audience. Flyer Ad is registered with the Nablus Chamber of Commerce and currently runs its operations out of the Tomorrow’s Youth Organization center in Nablus. Sahar has represented Palestinian Entrepreneurs twice at international conferences in America, including GE conference—Leading and Learning from Nablus to New York. When asked the top three areas of growth she has seen in herself from the start of FWEN in 2010 until now, she answered, “confidence, determination, and improved English language skills”.
A role model for many of her peers, she encourages self reliance. “Every woman should be strong and independent, making their own decisions. Ultimately, you are your own biggest advocate, and if you believe in yourself others will believe in you too. If you have a dream to launch your own business then work hard to make it real, without listening to those around you who have negative outlooks.”
TYO Contact details
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Tel.: +972 (0)9 328 0352