The community center in Rahat – Israel's largest Bedouin town – is enabling women who dream of setting up their own businesses to do so.
Funded by the Israeli government’s budget allocated to the country’s Arab sector, the Women's Empowerment Program is giving women of the Arab town the opportunity to emancipate themselves and acquire their independence.
In Israel, the rate of unemployed Arab women is particularly high, at 60 percent, something Rahat is working to change for those who aspire to succeed.
The program is divided into two categories – one is dedicated to women who have businesses and want to market their brands; the other is for women who want to work in social entrepreneurship.
About thirty event centers are hosting 20 meetings per week, during which participants are learning the basics of the business world, but also the laws of the market and of competition.
At the end of the program, the participants will present their projects to a panel, which will select the three most useful products or services for Rahat. The three “winners” will then be given special funding for their fruition.
"Our goal is to help women who have the potential and the desire to create their own business by offering them all the keys to carrying it out,” said Sabrin Abu Sukot, who is responsible for the women of the program.
“It’s about seeing more and more women business leaders in Rahat, to encourage them when they have an initiative and to prove to them that they can succeed by showing them examples of other women who have been there,” Sukot continued.
“We want to tell them that they are not alone in their approach and that we are providing solutions.”
The ideas of the participants range from design to event organization, sports and cooking classes, clothing companies and digital marketing.
“We have a real demand from women in Rahat to integrate our project, we feel that many of them want to set up their company,” said program coordinator Islam Abu Medigam.
“More women have more private companies and know what they want. There there is a real change today in Rahat; women used to work in the family business and were only there to help. Now they are taking matters into their own hands.”
Rahat, located in Israel’s southern Negev desert, is home to approximately 77,000 people. Many programs launched by the community center allow the development of culture, tourism, or sports, and offer many activities to young people.
“This year, we opened six special summer camps in different fields: English, ecology, culture, Quranic studies and values, science, and technology,” said Foad Elziadna, director of the Rahat community center.
"More than 1000 young people were able to benefit from the camps for 10 days. I believe that every child has talent, you just have to give them the tools.”
Long stigmatized and victim of clichés around honor killing, violence, and theft, Rahat is gradually trying to restore its image with initiatives that promote youth and women, by encouraging the development of their talents.
Reprinted with permission from i24NEWS.