Fostering Female Entrepreneurs in Coastal Yemen

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Women entrepreneurs participating in USAID/Yemen ERLP business skills training.
Photo: ERLP

“By the end of the training, I had a new understanding of what it meant to be a business owner and, for the first time, I feel that I am a businesswoman.”  — Zakieah Morjan, Owner, Zumordah Sewing Workshop

As a child growing up in Yemen,  Zakieah Morjan’s only examples of women entrepreneurs were local  seamstresses making clothes in their small workshops. Ms. Morjan loved to sew and dreamt of having her own small enterprise some day.  Eventually, she invested the few resources she had to rent a shop just big enough to fit her sewing machine, and with her sales was able to sustain a small livelihood for herself and her mother. 

However, Ms. Morjan had no idea how to run a business. 

“Some days the sales would be good, some days not, but this was as far as it went,” explained Ms. Morjan. “I knew I needed the skills to manage a business, but I didn’t know where to start.”

Then Ms. Morjan learned about a women’s entrepreneurship training and support activity, offered by USAID’s Economic Recovery and Livelihoods Program. The project focused on female entrepreneurs from rural Hadramout Governorate working in the high-demand sectors of food and clothing production. The sessions taught planning, management, and marketing of a small business, with hands-on learning about product presentation and the use of social media. 

For Mr. Morjan, the lessons were both eye-opening and life changing.

“I used to perform my work randomly without an actual plan or tracking of my sales. I didn’t realize that I could improve my business by studying the market and my competitors. I now know that I need to assess the market and find my competitive advantage, then develop a plan and a budget,” she said.   . 

The technical demonstrations also taught Ms. Morjan to work more efficiently. She learned how to save fabric by using different cutting techniques and how to accelerate production. “I’m faster at using the sewing machine now, which has made everything easier for me,” she said. 

The social media training gave her the confidence and knowledge to launch Facebook and Instagram accounts for her business, which quickly garnered a following and broader base of potential clients. 

Another key component of the training was teaching women how to register their businesses in order to access formal financial services and support from the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Division for Women’s Economic Empowerment. USAID worked with the Ministry to grant commercial certificates to each of the participants, facilitating their move from the informal to the formal economy. 

Since attending the training, Ms. Morjan expanded both her business and her income. By using her new skills to grow her customer base, her monthly earnings have increased several times over. She hired two seamstresses, a tailor, and a receptionist and recently signed contracts with several schools to furnish  uniforms. 

The growth is not only building Ms. Morjan’s business, it also is giving her a newfound sense of personal worth. “Now I feel I have a huge responsibility not just to my business, but also to my name, my employees and my reputation,” she said. 

These trainings aim to reach 500 of the most vulnerable women entrepreneurs in the area including widows, internally displaced persons, young women, and female heads of households helping women gain the economic foothold they need to improve their lives and foster a more stable future.

USAID’s Economic Recovery and Livelihoods program (ERLP) addresses critical economic stabilization challenges in Yemen. At the macroeconomic level, it works with public and private institutions to restore economic stability, enhance fiscal management, and increase international trade flows. At the microeconomic level, ERLP strengthens private sector performance and competitiveness—creating jobs, raising incomes, and improving livelihoods.


Last updated: May 11, 2022

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