Hanadi, Mohammed and Wafa
Born in Damascus.
Living in Cairo.
Hanadi ran a homemade perfume business with her husband. Mohammed owned one of the country’s most successful engine repair shops. Wafa’s hair salon boasted five employees. In Syria, they were prosperous business people. But war and bombing forced them to flee their homes and businesses for the unknown of Egypt, where jobs are scarce — and discrimination and legal obstacles rampant.
Catholic Relief Services helps refugees through a project that provides business and legal training, and grants startup capital. Participants write business plans, and can take supplemental vocational training to bolster their technical skills. They receive ongoing legal and technical support. The project supports refugees and asylum seekers from all nationalities living in Egypt, but a significant proportion are Syrians.
“The goal is to go beyond short-term help and give refugees the tools and resources they need to become productive, self-reliant members of Egyptian society.”
“The goal is to go beyond short-term help and give refugees the tools and resources they need to become productive, self-reliant members of Egyptian society,” explains Yumiko Texidor, who oversees the project.
“The training is meant to help clients establish more resilient businesses because they can better navigate challenges and solve problems when they arise.”
The CRS project is funded by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Within six months of opening, more than half the businesses generate a profit.
Today, Hanadi sells cosmetics and handmade perfume out of her apartment to clientele across Cairo. Wafa has opened a hair salon called Damascus Girl and hopes to send her daughter to law school. And Mohammed has used a grant to open a bustling engine repair shop that’s putting him on track to support his four sons, wife and mother.