MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates) recently celebrated the graduation of its first training group from the Libya Women Economic Empowerment (LWEE) project.
LWEE, reaching 210 women entrepreneurs with job-creating opportunities for an additional 700 individuals, is jointly funded by USAID and MEDA supporters and is implemented in partnership with three local organizations: Phoenix, Libyan Women Forum and Consultants Alliance.
The 20 entrepreneurial women who completed the month-long business training course are now excited about moving forward with their business ideas. While the demand is great, traditionally business opportunities for women in Libya have been quite limited. MEDA received 300 applications for the 20 spots available for this first training; interest is expected to grow as word spreads.
Grateful for the opportunity to be part of this program, the women wanted to create a lasting icon of their appreciation. "They planted a tree in the garden of the office premises and call it Hope," Intissar Rajabany, MEDA's project manager in Libya explained. "It symbolizes their hope in improving their life and achieving success as Libyan women entrepreneurs following the fundamental training they received."Libyan-Woman
During Ramadan, the project team will review learning from this first group of trainees before training resumes. Another 180 women are expected to graduate by the end of the two-year project. LWEE staff will provide ongoing mentorship and networking to keep in touch with program graduates. Through a business plan competition, the project will provide matching grants to fund some of the top ideas submitted.
Although LWEE is in its early days, Intissar reports it is already having a big impact. "The changes we've seen in the attitude and behavior of the women as compared to four weeks ago are 180 degrees different. As much as these are motivated women who have sacrificed time to do this, they are more outgoing in their outlook, they are wearing brighter colours, they are very comfortable with the male trainers and they are just full of life and vitality – which is a resounding success!"