During a recent visit of HANDS’ Board of Directors to Cairo’s garbage collectors’ community, a man dressed in the traditional long robes of Egypt came to explain how HANDS had changed his life.

Eissa used to collect garbage with only his two sons and a small truck–the typical unlicensed work of Cairo’s Zabbaleen. As members of this informal economy, they often found themselves the target of police crackdowns.

When he heard about efforts HANDS was supporting to help the Zabbaleen community register and grow their garbage collection businesses, Eissa was eager to learn more. He wanted to successfully formalize his business, but like many others in his community, he was fearful about paying taxes and navigating the system.

Through training in business registration, meetings with an accountant and ongoing mentoring, Eissa was the first person in his community to transition to a formal garbage collection enterprise. After registering his company, he succeeded in winning contracts with two of Cairo’s largest supermarket chains.

As a result of Eissa’s hard work, the small garbage collecting business he conducted with his two sons has grown into a company that now employs 96 people! His courageous decision means that his sons are now able to go to school instead of working. The older son is studying tourism, now able to pursue a career that his parents before could only have dreamed of providing for him.

HANDS is thrilled to support small business owners like Eissa. Because of his brave decision to venture into unfamiliar business territory, he has changed the futures of 96 families and continues to make a positive impact as a leader in his community.