Entrepreneurial training for women in Azaz city challenges social and living restraints

Entrepreneurship workshop in the "Mari Center for Research and Studies" - (Mari Center for Studies)

Entrepreneurship workshop in the "Mari Center for Research and Studies" - (Mari Center for Studies)


Enab Baladi – Aleppo countryside

With the participation of a group of women from several institutions and associations active in the Syrian north, the “Mari Center for Research and Studies” in Azaz city, northern Aleppo, held a two-day workshop on the concept of entrepreneurship in the first week of this September.

The workshop covered several focuses, the most important of which was the concept of entrepreneurship and its importance, the role of entrepreneurship in building social capital and the identification of the entrepreneur’s characteristics.

The workshop presented successful entrepreneurship experiences and developed a proposed model for the development of this concept in northern Syria.

Creative solutions to create job opportunities

Entrepreneurship seeks to create new projects and encourages and supports personnel initiatives in establishments.

Meanwhile, Syria’s northern area suffers from a decline in employment opportunities in general and for women in particular.

According to Okba al-Issa, a doctor in business administration and marketing, and the workshop’s supervisor, this lack of job opportunities resulted from many restrictions, mostly social ones; therefore, there is a serious need to think differently to find creative solutions to the problems in northern Syria.

Speaking to Enab Baladi, al-Issa said that entrepreneurship is considered a modern trend and a feature of developed societies.

Al-Issa said entrepreneurship contributes to creating employment opportunities for the entrepreneurs and those working with them, drives towards the development of existing working methods, creates new projects that contribute to the investment of resources, and provides the market’s needs for different products.

The importance of entrepreneurial training in northern Syria comes from its role in encouraging and raising women’s awareness to the importance of their role as business leaders in the economy and society, within the challenges of war, displacement, the loss of the family’s breadwinner, and the inadequate income sources.

Al-Issa believes that workshops’ training is essential to equip women with leadership skills to become professional entrepreneurs. Besides, it helps develop more jobs in remote rural areas and strengthens social and economic ties. Hence, workshops’ training creates a society capable of spreading and supporting entrepreneurship and achieve comprehensive economic and social development.

Problems and challenges

Several women from organizations operating in north-western Syria participated in the workshop, the most prominent of which is the “Women Support Unit in the Stabilization Committee” and the “Family Development Center,” in addition to many female activists in northern Syria.

Majida al-Batour, an official in the “Child Protection Committee” in Azaz city, and a lecturer at the “Free Aleppo” University talked to Enab Baladi about her experience as a participant in the training conducted by the center.

Al-Batour said that she joined the workshop because she strongly desires to start a private project, learn the practical academic steps, and identify her strengths and weaknesses to initiate her project.

Al-Batour believes that entrepreneurship training is important for women in the northern Syrian areas because they are the most group subject to life challenges, especially in the circumstances of war and displacement.

According to al-Batour, the main challenges facing women in northern Syria include their lack of knowledge of the entrepreneurship concept, lack of financial resources, war and displacement conditions, security and political instability, the collapsing infrastructure, and the inadequate educational system.

Al-Batour completed the workshop with a more objective plan and a good economic study, aiming to develop a plan for her project of opening a psycho-social support center for children, after acquiring knowledge and social capital, before accessing the economic capital by investing all of her available capabilities.

She concluded her talk to Enab Baladi by saying that the increasing number of female entrepreneurs willing to establish private social business activities (small enterprises) will contribute in placing male and female entrepreneurs in a continuous and sustainable path of methodology, to receive advice and guidance to overcome all the challenges they face in emergency crises.

Another participant in the workshop, who is also an official in the “Stabilization Committee,” Salwa Kour Bilal, thinks that, within the current situation and in many cases, women became the sole breadwinner of their families and have been forced to work in political, economic, and social fields.

Thus, entrepreneurship workshops for women contribute to helping them achieving self-fulfillment, becoming role models for others, and enhance their ability to plan their lives and make decisions, Kour Bilal said.

According to her, the difficulties facing women in northern Syria are the unstable security situation, the chaos in the region, and the new challenging tasks women have taken after the Syrian revolution, especially those who lost their breadwinners.

Kour Bilal added other challenges such as society’s conservative cultural norms, which says that women’s natural place is their home and kitchen; however, few people became aware of the importance of women’s work.

Kour Bilal said to Enab Baladi that the workshop made her reconsider her work and pushed her to start a project she had planned before, after learning the main focuses for implementation through the workshop’s training.

The information obtained by Kour Bilal through the training changed the course of planning for the projects she wishes to undertake.

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