A native of Nablus, Ayat Atallah is a current female entrepreneur in TYO’s Women’s Incubation Services for Entrepreneurs (WISE) Program and a former participant of Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in Nablus (FWEN). Ayat’s business, Eco Teryaq, is a business focused on providing natural compost for farmers and in homes
In April 2013, Ayat traveled to Sweden for the first time to participate in the She Entrepreneurs Programme. Ayat shares her experience with us and explains how this program will help her business.
What is She Entrepreneurs?
It brings businesswomen from the MENA region together for trainings and opportunities for networking. There were 28 women participants in total.
What did you do there?
It was a very intense program! We were constantly participating in trainings, meeting Swedish entrepreneurs and doing team building exercises. I met so many interesting, driven young women and we had great conversations during the weeks in Sweden.
I was the only Palestinian representative so many people were interested in my story and my struggles. But similarly, I was very interested in their stories. I met women who had businesses ranging from donut shops to self-defense training centers. One of my favorite businesses was a woman starting a recycling center! I too have dreams of one day building a recycling plant in Palestine but have faced serious challenges in doing so. It was great to exchange experiences with a fellow environmental entrepreneur!
What was the biggest lesson you learned?
Meeting and knowing new people. Meeting new people inspires you. I’ve come to learn that it doesn’t matter who they are or what background they have, they can help you and you can help them.
What was the most surprising part of your trip?
I was surprised to see how hardworking and serious in work Swedish people were. At the same time though, they are still so kind. Being a Palestinian, I just didn’t anticipate such overwhelming respect from Swedes. I found that they respect all cultures. When you talk about your struggles, they really feel with you. It was such a nice feeling.
How will this program help your business going forward?
I was able to go to Sweden and see other women from the Middle East who are all living in similar situations, cultures and communities as I am. It really helped me remember that as a businesswomen in the MENA region, you’re not alone. It’s a hard journey for us but we’re in this together. Knowing that other women just like you are working hard to fulfill their dreams makes you stronger and want to keep fighting and really do things to change.