Nurturing entrepreneurship amidst destruction

Helping small businesses in Syrian villages grow strong

J.H. packaging some of her homemade products

J.H. never imagined that her home made business will flourish and the “baytoti” brand will become a household name in Raqqa and neighbouring villages.


  • Total budget of the project: USD 2,753,318.00
  • Raqqah ranks first out of 14 governorates on human poverty with a rate of 21.2
  • Illiteracy among its inhabitants stands at 29.1%, exceeding double the national average of 14.2%.

J., the eldest of her siblings, is the principal breadwinner in a family of six. At 43 and single, she has been earning little income from selling homemade dairy products to neighbours in her small village near Raqqa.

During the current crisis, she enrolled in several courses on how to develop and expand her business at the Raqqa vocational training centre. At the end of the training course, J. received a small grant of SYP 82,000 (USD 1,100) to help expand her home cooking project and start up a business.

The vocational training centre in Raqqa is part of a USD 2.8 million UNDP programme in Deir Ez-Zour and Raqqa governorates that also includes the rehabilitation of old Roman wells to provide water to the two drought stricken governorates and increase tourism through the rehabilitation of sites.

J. is one of 4200 people who benefited from the training that was designed as a model to enhance the capacities of local small and medium enterprises, generate employment and sustainable economic growth.

“This is like a dream come true for me” says J. " With the grant, I was able to buy basic equipment and materials for my food processing business so that I can make cheese, yogurt, jams and other local specialties”.

J.’s new brand “Baytoti”, Arabic for homemade, became a local household name and all the shops in her village and other neighbouring villages now carry the “Baytoti” product line.

She is now looking to expand her business “I feel frustrated when I get approached by women every day asking for work and I have no possibility to accommodate them. But I have great hopes to be able to create more opportunities for women in my village.”

Six months ago, J. was working by herself. Now she is employing 25 women who she trained from her village, giving them the opportunity to earn an income and then supporting them as they work their way out of poverty.

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