“The story has just begun, and I will use all the available resources for further progress and success” Ikhlas Sawalha said, a Palestinian enthusiastic lady from Assera Al-Shamalieh village who challenged all the bad circumstances to start her own business.
In order to improve my financial situation, I established a soap factory to produce soap made of olive oil from natural herbs, and ingredients in a traditional way “SIBA Soap”. As a start and in order to be able to purchase the needed raw materials, and produce small amounts, I used to exchange things with others until I had the first produced amount of soap. And after conducting surveys, participate in small exhibitions, I continued to develop my products branding and packaging according to the customers’ needs and opinions.
In April 2010, I met the Business Women Forum-Palestine (BWF), which I consider it as a turning point in the project lifetime. The Business Development Center of the Business Women Forum has provided coaching, consultancy, assess my needs, and then provide a professional marketing consultant who worked with me to develop a new package. Also, BWF-BDC team has convinced me of the importance of registering the business formally, which encouraged me to register it formally under their supervision and guidance.
After one year of my membership with BWF, and with all the efforts to promote my business, BWF has engaged me in other opportunities such as participating in local and international exhibitions, which opened new markets for my products.
In 2011, I won 5000 USD after participating in a business plan competition organized by BWF in cooperation with SPARK and BiD-Network. The money has helped me to purchase new tools to develop my factory, as well as making minor changes in the factory decoration.
Japan: The dream comes true
2012 has brought a new achievement for my business since I was chosen as one of three best Palestinian companies by the Japan External Trade Organization-JETRO. JETRO has invited me to Japan for one week where I met marketing consultants and beauty experts, and visited soap factories. In May 2013, I will be going again to Japan to participate in huge beauty exhibition.
This is my story so far but I am still at the beginning of the journey.