Power loans empower businesswomen
By Khetam Malkawi RUSEIFA - Defying family and social mores, Umm Alaa progressed from being the manager of a grocery shop to becoming the proud owner of a three-door supermarket over the past decade. Her dream does not stop here, as she has set her sight on owning a mall one day. "Despite the challenges I faced and opposition from my family who did not want me to be a shopkeeper, I insisted on going ahead to secure a better life for my children," Umm Alaa said on Sunday. The mother of eight said it was not easy to secure the needs of her children and she had to find a source of income. "Although my husband had a job, he was paid peanuts and I had to help him with the household expenses," the Ruseifa resident added. Umm Alaa said she started this line of work 10 years ago, when her father-in-law - who owned a grocery shop - left the country and asked her to manage the store in his absence. "When I first started, I used to make a profit of JD300 every month, and after six months this amount increased to JD1,000," she explained. Umm Alaa said her father-in-law eventually gave her the shop and she decided to expand, adding that she did not listen to her brothers who asked her more that once "not to work as a shopkeeper". "I needed funds for the expansion, and was told about a society in Ruseifa that extends loans to working women in the area. I took a loan from the Working Women Society (WWS) in 2007 and started the expansion work," she said, noting that the business helped her educate her children without depending on anyone else. Umm Alaa made the remarks at a ceremony held by the WWS yesterday to announce the expansion of the "Power" loans project with the support of CARE International. The society has extended loans to more than 75 women through the programme, which was launched in 2007, according to WWS President Sameera Salman. "Any woman who has a business idea can apply to us and receive a loan and training on how to implement her project," she told The Jordan Times, adding that the society and CARE also help women market their products. The projects implemented by the beneficiaries include catering and embroidery. Some of their products were on display at an exhibition on the sidelines of yesterday's ceremony, during which CARE announced that the expansion of the Power project will be financed with a JD10,000 donation from Pepsi. Anis Tarabey, assistant country director at CARE, said the main goal of the programme is to help women secure sustainable economic livelihoods through supporting small projects and empowering them.