More than half a million refugee women from Syria are living in Lebanon with few ways to support themselves and their families. Lebanon allows refugees to work in only a few industries and requires special permits and unaffordable fees .For women there are the additional obstacles to earning a living like the need for someone to care for their children and the stigma of women working outside the home. But refugee women want and need to work. Last year, MECA’s partner Al-Jalil Center developed a project to provide a group of Palestinian and Syrian refugee women with a way to earn money. The project is called Tamkeen, which roughly translates to “Empowerment.”

Al-Jalil recruited the first group of women, hired experts in business management and marketing to provide training, and purchased the ingredients, supplies, and equipment the women need to make preserved foods like olives and labneh (traditional Middle Eastern cheese in olive oil). Once the women learned how to run a small business, how to use the industrial food preparation equipment, and produce large quantities, Al-Jalil organized a bazaar in the community for the women to sell their products. Their next goal is to open a shop on the main road.