In 2008, Hanaa caught the entrepreneurial bug. She began making leather products in her home and selling them at local markets in Cairo. Despite the difficulties of gaining a foothold in a competitive market, Hanaa knew she had found her life-long passion.
However, she encountered several challenges; her process of purchasing raw materials, then designing and creating the products was slow and inefficient. “I was able to make about 20 pieces, but my sales were small,” she says. Hanaa had an ambitious vision but lacked the knowledge and experience to make her enterprise prosperous.
In 2011, Hanaa learned of HANDS and our Young Entrepreneurs Program (YEP), an intercultural training initiative that aims to empower young Egyptian entrepreneurs to pursue business careers. For Hanaa, it became the catalyst for her to launch her fledgling enterprise.
Hanaa attended every training session over the course of many years. In doing so, she learned how to study the market, analyze financial risks, and improve her product to earn the attention of the consumers. She utilized modern marketing techniques such as using social media to advertise her products online, which bolstered her sales immensely.
Through these beneficial training sessions and workshops, Hanaa picked up invaluable business skills that accelerated the success of her enterprise. Utilizing her new training, Hanaa re-launched her sleek new business under the brand name Lotus Leather Crafts.
Bolstered by the support of HANDS and its partner organization, Hanaa’s leather business gradually transformed. She went from selling five pieces a month to an astounding 35! With over 1,000 followers on it’s neatly-designed Facebook page, Lotus Leather Crafts is a thriving business in a competitive market. It also created new jobs, as Hanaa had to hire help with her growing business.
In 2018, HANDS and our partner organization for this program announced a competition for the best business development idea and made it available to all of the trainees of HANDS’ Young Entrepreneurs Programs. Propelled by her sudden success, Hanaa decided to enter the contest, demonstrating her initiative by further upgrading for her trade.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, she garnered the most attention out of the large field of applicants and won first place! As her prize, she received a new machine to help with finishing leather and state-of-the-art tools to improve the quality and appearance of her goods.
Many women such as Hanaa turn to HANDS and its partners out of necessity. While her success is impressive, there are many other women in Egypt who also need help realizing their dreams.
We at HANDS are grateful for the support of our many donors, including the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, and the generous individuals that make this program possible. The success of our entrepreneur training programs over the past 10 years is contingent on the generous support of individuals and organizations such as these, transforming investments into life-changing opportunities for creative entrepreneurs, like Hanaa, across Egypt!