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Promoting economic resilience of vulnerable communities in Yemen

A collage of men and women

A group of small business owners who have benefited from the trainings and financial grants to establish their small business in Lahj governorate. From the left: Aisha, Bashir, Samia, Mohammed, Jawad, Ali, Hiam, and Waheeb. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE.

A group of small business owners who have benefited from the trainings and financial grants to establish their small business in Lahj governorate. From the left: Aisha, Bashir, Samia, Mohammed, Jawad, Ali, Hiam, and Waheeb. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE.

The protracted conflict in Yemen has resulted in one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises and its fourth-largest displacement crisis. The widespread instability and insecurity across the country have devastated infrastructure systems and public services, further deepening the humanitarian and economic crisis. Years of conflict and economic recession have eroded the resilience of Yemeni families, forcing them to adopt negative coping strategies, such as running up debts, selling possessions, and begging.

According to the 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO), Yemen’s economy has shrunk by half since 2015, with over 80 percent of the population living below the poverty line. In 2021, the devaluation of the Yemeni Rial (YER) and limited employment and income-generating opportunities further worsened families’ access to essential goods and services, including food, water, healthcare, and education.

Through funding from the EU, and as part of the six-member Durable Solutions Consortium, CARE works to support crisis-affected communities to better cope with economic shocks and to improve their resilience and self-reliance. To boost sustainable livelihoods and economic recovery in the Lahj Governorate, CARE has trained 300 beneficiaries in Tuban and Al-Madarba districts on the basic skills needed to establish and manage small businesses, including business plan writing, marketing, and financial management. After the training, 200 trainees, who submitted the best business plans, received financial grants to start their small businesses. Shortly after receiving the grants, grant awardees were able to launch their small businesses, generating income to provide for their families. In record time, some of the new businesses gained a strong reputation and started to provide employment opportunities for other people in their areas.


Big utensils mean big revenue for Aisha

a woman standing next to large pots
Aisha stands next to her kitchen, cooking with her new kitchen utensils and gas cylinders. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE.

“My dream was to turn my talent into a business that could provide me with a good income,” says Aisha Qaid, a 56-years-old mother of five from Al Zayda village in Tuban district. Aisha is an accomplished cook, and the people of her village rely on her to prepare feasts for weddings and other occasions.

“I used to cook for villagers, but it was a difficult and unprofitable work,” says Aisha. “I didn’t have sufficient space and cooking utensils to prepare big meals, so I had to rent these utensils and go to my customers’ houses to cook there. This used to take a lot of my time and revenue.”

“Thanks to the cash grant,” she says, “the way I cook and work has changed completely. I used the grant to rehabilitate my kitchen and buy an oven, large cooking utensils, and two gas cylinders. Now I don’t have to rent utensils or go to my customers’ houses to cook for them. This has improved my revenue and increased the number of customers I can serve. My customers are happy to come to my house and find their food ready to take,” she concludes.


Bashir is debt-free now

A man selling items to a small kid in a grocery shop
Bashir sells commodities in his grocery shop. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

“My salary wasn’t enough to provide basics for my family,” says Bashir Nasser, a 42-year-old father of four. Bashir works as a teacher, but due to inflation and the increasing prices of basic commodities and services, he was struggling to provide minimum necessities for his family. As a result, Bashir started to run up large debts. “I used to buy food and other basic items on credit from a grocery store,” he says. “Eventually, the owner of that grocery shop refused to give me any items because my debt was large, and I couldn’t pay it off.”

The training has helped Bashir to identify profitable business opportunities in his village, so he decided to turn one room in his house into a grocery shop. With the grant money, he bought goods that were most in demand, such as spices, and he also rented a refrigerator. Bashir’s shop is the only place that sells spices in his village. “Today, I earn nearly 80 US dollars per month,” Bashir says.“Now we have enough food in the house and I’ve paid off my debt. I even started to save some money for my children.”


Samia enjoys teaching young children how to read and write

A woman and kids posing for a photo in classroom
Samia and her students in a classroom at her home. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

“I was so pleased to learn that I was one of the cash grant winners,” says 35-year-old Samia Aref. Samia lives in Al Zayda village with her parents, three brothers, and two sisters. After the conflict, Samia became the sole breadwinner of her family.

“I received a cash grant of 562,930 Yemeni Rials (about 500 USD)  and went straight to the city to buy whiteboards, tables, chairs, and teaching tools,” she says. “Then, I renovated a room in my house and turned it into a classroom to teach young children how to read and write. I got 35 registered students, and for each, I charge 2,000 YR. I earn a monthly income of 155,000 YR (about 150 USD), which my family depends on for a living.”


Mohammed has fixed his life

Two men working in a workshop
Mohammed and his assistant repair air conditioners in Mohamed’s workshop. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

“I work as a teacher in a primary school, yet my salary isn’t enough to cover my family’s needs,” says Mohammed, one of the people benefiting from the project. Like many teachers across Yemen, Mohammed sought different jobs to supplement his income. He started to work with a friend in an air conditioner maintenance workshop, where he learned how to fix air conditioners in no time. Mohammed felt certain that opening his own workshop would provide him with much-needed income, but he didn’t have the money to start his business.

“Thanks to EU support,” says Mohammed, “I’ve participated in the training and got funding for my business. I rented a shop, bought equipment, and hired one employee. We both earn good money to provide a better life for our families.”


Ali and Jawad recycle scrap for a better life

Two men working on a metal structure
Jawad with Ali cut scrap metal using the electrical saw and the generator they bought with their grant. They then transport the metal in the vehicle they have rented to sell it in the nearest market. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

“After participating in the training, I gained the knowledge and money I needed to proceed with my scrap metal collection business,” says 41-year-old Jawad Ahmed, a displaced person from Al-Hodeidah Governorate residing in the Al-Bitrah camp in Lahj governorate. “Before the training, I used to collect scrap metal with my friend Ali, who has also been displaced and lives in the Al-Bitrah camp. The financial grant helped us to buy an electrical saw, electric generator, and some metal,” continues Jawad.

“This had increased our profits, so we decided to rent a small vehicle to improve our deliveries. As a result, the number of our customers increased. Now, we make nearly $200 per month. I’m proud that Ali and I can provide enough food for our families,” he concludes.


Hiam is delighted to see her children’s lives improving

A man and a woman sitted, the woman is cooking and the man is packing items in plastic bags
Hiam and her husband cooperate in making and selling incenses and perfumes to provide for their children. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

“It was a tough time for my family when my husband lost his job, and we had no money or food at home,” says Hiam Zed, 33, a mother of two. Hiam used her grant to buy an oven, raw materials, and a mobile phone to promote her incense and perfume-making business.

“After we started our business, we were able to save some money so we will never be left without resources again. My monthly revenue from my business exceeds 100 USD. I’m delighted to see my children’s lives gradually improving.”


Waheeb is well known for his high-quality clothes

A man sewing a fabric
Waheeb sews clothes using his new sewing machine. Photo: Bassam Saleh/CARE

“Nothing is more challenging for a man than being unable to support his family,” says Waheeb Saeed, 29 and the sole breadwinner of five family members. “Thanks to the cash grant, I bought a new sewing machine, a solar energy system, and some fabric. I’m now known for my high-quality clothes, pillows, and mattresses, which I sell to neighbors in my village and shops in nearby villages.”

CARE has intervened in the Lahj governorate with the Durable Solutions Project, which is a two-year project funded by the EU and implemented by a consortium of six relief agencies led by ACTED. The project works to enhance the resilience and social cohesion of conflict-affected communities where CARE provides a package of integrated health, livelihood, and economic empowerment interventions.

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