Tell us about your business. What do you do, where do you sell your products, and who are your customers?
My name is Sumood Jamlan. I am from Aseera village outside of Nablus and I have a business called Shal. I make embroidered bags, shawls, and accessories to sell online and in exhibitions, primarily to young women. I started making embroidered products in 2010, but at that time it was merely a hobby. It wasn’t until I joined Tomorrow’s Youth Organization’s (TYO) Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East (FWEME) project in 2012 that I learned there were steps I could take to turn my hobby into a profitable business. FWEME put me on my path to run the successful business that I have today.
How did you hear about APWE? How have you as a business woman benefited from APWE? How has it improved the way you operate your business?
Three years later in 2015, TYO’s Outreach Coordinator called me and invited me to attend the Advancing Palestinian Women Entrepreneurs program in partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. I jumped at the opportunity as I wanted to improve my business management and marketing skills.
I have benefitted from APWE in countless ways! I used to have a very difficult time with budgeting and keeping all of my financial records in order. TYO’s training partner, the Small Enterprise Center provided me with the skills and tools I needed to keep more precise and accurate records of all of my labor costs, expenditure and profits. Before I started APWE I had been very depressed: the political tension in the country was severe, I seldom left my home, and my business had essentially come to a screeching halt. Joining APWE gave me new energy. Most of all, it helped me learn how to refine my budgeting and bookkeeping skills and how to find my customer base. I’m also really looking forward to advancing my marketing skills at the upcoming Branding and Marketing training.
As an entrepreneur who has had a business for six years, how has APWE benefitted you? What have you learned that you have applied to how you operate your business?
I have taken my products to five exhibitions since joining APWE—one with the Ministry of Tourism in Ramallah, one with the Nablus municipality, and three with the Ministry of Tourism in Jericho, Birzeit University, and Sebastia. Earlier this year, I went to the Paltel Group Foundation headquarters in Ramallah to show them my products and asked them to contact me if they needed any large orders. A few months later, Paltel asked me to make 158 shawls for all of their employees for Mother’s Day. This experience taught me how to handle stress, manage employees (as I had to hire people to complete the order), and meet tight deadlines. Not only did I meet the deadline and provide Paltel with all 158 shawls, but I also established a business relationship with Paltel and will continue to work with them in the future.
I highly recommend this project to budding entrepreneurs. If they are looking to work hard, improve their skills, and reap the benefits of their hard work then APWE will be a perfect fit.
Interviewed by Vanessa Faraj and Rawan Musameh