Hayat, a store owner in South Lebanon, builds a community of business owners after AFDAL courses

Hayat is proud to say that she opened her small shop in Baraachit, South Lebanon, 20 years ago. She says that during her three pregnancies, she didn’t stop working until giving birth. “I consider this store my home, I practically live here,” she says.

After years of growing her store, she decided to start farming. With her husband, she built greenhouses and started growing seasonal vegetables to sell them at her store.

During the fuel crisis last summer, her business suffered greatly, “When the electricity started going out, all the products went bad. Because of this, I lost a lot of customers who were looking to buy basic dairy products, or anything cold,” she says.

Moreover, the crisis impacted her farming business, “Our water supply was totally cut. And when I had to buy water, the cost was higher than what I would make when selling my harvest,” she explains.

Despite these difficulties, Hayat pushed through. “It is this store and the work I did in fields that allowed me to raise my family,” she says.

Today, at 45 years old, she has decided to sign up for AFDAL 3 courses, a project supported by the World Food Programme (WFP). The courses she chose revolved around farming techniques and business. This introduced her to new skills and helped her build a new community of small business owners in her town.

“I offered my fellow participants some shelves in my store to sell their products,” she says. All by herself, Hayat was able to create a market link for local producers.

“I really enjoyed learning every day, I used to tell everyone I’m going to school. It’s like being a student again”, she says.

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