From where I stand: My message to every woman is to believe in yourself and be certain that it is never too late to start your own business


Rowaida Abdelghafar single mother of two children, and a small project owner is one of the 19 small project owners and aspiring entrepreneurs who attended the “Start Your Own Business” training. This training program was organized by the Institut Européen de Coopération et de Développement (IECD) between 29 October and 19 November 2020 as part of the IECD’s collaboration with UN Women Egypt. The program aimed at providing participants with the necessary skills for planning and implementing successful business projects such as developing business ideas, conducting feasibility studies, marketing, and budgeting skills, among others. Global and national experience shows that empowering women through enhanced economic opportunities builds their personal and socio-economic resilience to exit unsafe situations. The “Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces” programme offers an enabling environment for women to access income-generating opportunities, including through the physical upgrading of unsafe public spaces and building community awareness about the impact of violence against women. The programme is implemented in partnership with the National Council for Women, the University of Alexandria, in collaboration with civil society organizations, and with the generous support of Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Egypt.

We spoke to Rowaida Abdelghafar to learn about her small project and her reflections about the training.

Rowaida Abdelghafar

“I always had a special passion for handcrafts. My father was and still is my number one supporter. He used to buy me books about handcrafts and arts. I believe that I have a special talent which allows me to understand how a handmade product was made by just looking at it.

Growing up, I tried so many arts and handcrafts, including complicated ones, such as oil painting and painting on leather. I even participated in competitions all over Alexandria and won advanced places in most of these competitions.

After getting divorced and although I had all the support anyone could ask for from my parents, I always felt that I have to depend on myself and be a role model for my children. I tried different jobs, I worked as a teacher for a while, but I did not feel that teaching is for me. I spent some time thinking about what I could do to earn an income and I was always looking for ideas and inspiration.

Surprisingly, I was inspired to start my own business three years ago during a birthday party. I am well known among my relatives for my passion for handcrafts and for arts. One day my sister suggested to her friend that I can do the decorations for her child’s birthday. I accepted the task, and everyone was amazed by the decorations. During the birthday party, a family friend asked me if I had a social media page so that he can share it with his friends who may request my services, so I created a social media page to advertise for my services and this is how I started my businesses.

Through” Start your Business” training that I took with the IECD , I learned how to brand and grow my business .I became very passionate about marketing and even the trainer advised me to become a trainer as well. Indeed, I started looking for organizations where I can offer different trainings to other women who want to start their own businesses and I cannot believe that I am now a trainer at the cultural center in Alexandria.

My message to every woman is to never let yourself feel worthless, believe in yourself and be certain that it is never too late to start your own business."

This collaboration between the IECD and UN Women Egypt falls within the framework of the upscaled “Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces” programme in Alexandria, which UN Women Egypt implements in partnership with the National Council for Women, Alexandria Governorate, and in collaboration with civil society organizations in Alexandria, with the generous support of Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Egypt. The programme contributes to the achievement of SDG1: “End poverty in all its forms everywhere” by equipping socioeconomically vulnerable women with marketable skills that will allow them to achieve financial independence without resorting to negative coping mechanisms. This collaboration also contributes to the achievement of SDG 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” because it addresses the gendered challenges that socioeconomically vulnerable women often face in the marketplace and gives them tools to defend themselves against violence through economic empowerment.

Read in Arabic.