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Microfinance projects in Yemen

Taqwa Al-Hababi started her wedding dress buisness 12 years ago with the help of a microfinance loan.

Dr. Amat Al-Razaq Ali Homad, Minister of the Social Affairs and Labor Ministry, and Abdulqader Helal, Secretariat of the Capital, on Sunday inaugurated the “Microfinance Project Days” fair in Sana’a’s Al-Sabeen Park.  The event was organized by Yemen’s Microfinance Network and financed by the Social Development Fund (SDF).

The fair, which will take place all week, aims to initiate a greater role of microfinance projects in creating job opportunities in Yemen, where 96 percent of all businesses operate on a small scale.

Khaleel Al-Mekhlafi, a research and development official at the Yemen Microfinance Network, said,“The fair aims to assist people with ideas or occupation [aspirations] who are looking for finance. Whoever wants to have a better life should go to microfinance institutions. Before, these institutions funded 500, 000   projects, and currently as many as 80, 000 projects have been presented to institutions to be financed and brought into light.”

Al-Mekhlafi pointed out that the event’s chief aim was to urge people to contribute to microfinance projects because they create job opportunities and tackle unemployment and poverty.

Taqwa Al-Hababi started her own microfinance project 12 years ago. With the help of her four daughters and two sons, she currently sells wedding dresses and accessories.   As a result of the income her business brought in, she was able to build her family a house.

“I bought a wedding dress with the YR 100, 000 loan I got in 2000 from the Nama Microfinance Project and started renting it for a small amount of money in return,” Al-Hababi said.

She faced some hurdles initially; she said her family had a stereotypical view of women who worked outside the home.

“My relatives didn’t want me to start working because they considered microfinance projects unsuitable for women.”

The woman with an entrepreneurial spirit ignored her family’s concerns and focused on her

work. That was over a decade ago.  She has now raised and educated her children and opened up a new branch for her business.

“Several people condemned my work at the beginning, but now they are working for me,” Al-Hababi said with a sense of satisfaction.

She added, “I advise every woman to be optimistic and start a project. The government should support women and provide them with all necessary resources so that they can depend on themselves, even though society disapproves of women’s participation.”

Abdullah Al-Dailmi, the acting executive manager of the SDF, asserted the keenness of the organization to foster and encourage microfinance projects and provide all kinds of tools aimed at combating poverty and creating jobs.

On behalf of the Social Affairs and Labor Ministry, Homad asserted that the government is working to create a solid foundation so microfinance and banks can thrive economically. He believes this can be achieved by adopting polices and laws and establishing programs that support this sort of developmental strategy.

Homad also expressed her appreciation for the international organizations and local the microfinance foundations that have played a supportive roles in creating jobs and decreasing unemployment.

For his part, Helal, wants to make the fair a constant presence at Al-Sabeen Park.  He said the SDF, the Yemen Microfinance Network and the Secretariat will have to work together to fund and find a place for the exhibition.

“We spend billions on many projects in the capital city. Why haven’t we invested in humans and help them with a source of income? The charitable associations can develop the small crafts, and the government should provide markets for the products of these craft,” he said.

Helal, continued, “The youth today have new visions and new strategies to overcome obstacles. We should support them. We, in the capital city, are ready to support and encourage them to overcome the difficulties. Helping set-up shops to promote their products, for example, is a kind of support.”

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