North Sinai's Bedouin Handicrafts go Global through Small Businesses

 Woman in her shop for bedouin products
Yosra El Sayed in her small shop for Bedouin products In Beer El Abed, North Sinai

Since 2006, Yosra El Sayed, a 25-year-old mother of a two, had been struggling for the survival of her small Bedouin handicraft shop, which competes against the big bazaars of Beer El Abed in Northwest Sinai.

Yosra has an innate talent that yields high quality products, but without the adequate management and entrepreneurial skills, her business did not live up to her full potentials.

Lacking the necessary business tools, Yosra had to dig deeper into her savings over the past two years as she lost clients and business opportunities.

Highlights

  • Yosra El Sayed is one of 9,000 small business owners who received training on how information and communication technologies can make their enterprises more efficient, better connected, and more competitive.
  • This programme supports Egypt’s socio-economic development by raising awareness on the development potentials of information and communication technologies and making them more accessible and affordable. The programme is currently being implemented across 21 out of Egypt’s 27 governorates.

Determined to acquire the means to grow her business, Yosra enrolled, in 2009, in a three-week training course at the Beer El Abed Community Development Association in Sinai, tailored especially for micro, small and medium enterprises.

The course was part of a programme designed to support micro, small and medium enterprise, employing information and communication technologies to enhance productivity and competitiveness.

The programme is the product of a collaboration that started in 2006 between UNDP and the Egypt Information and Communication Technology Trust Fund jointly lunched, with support from Canada’s International Development Research Centre, the Government of Japan, the Islamic Development Bank and Microsoft Egypt.

“The training provided me with a great opportunity to expand my basic computer knowledge and skills,” recalls Yosra, “but more importantly, it changed my mind-set and helped me start to think as a true entrepreneur”.

After the training, the change was remarkable. Yosra started digitizing her business files, using databases for client records and spread sheets to organize her finances, and venturing into e-marketing to expand her business prospects online.

“For me, the programme was a huge leap forward,” says Yosra. “Before, I was merely fighting for survival. Now, beyond my wildest dreams, I am competing in a global market, outside my local borders here in Sinai.”

Six months after her training, Yosra got the opportunity to market her products online through the Ayadina portal (http://ayadina.kenanaonline.com/), which is one of Kenanaonline’s Community Development Portals specialized in developing micro, small and medium enterprise through online marketing.

Kenanaonline is the product of another collaborative effort between UNDP and the Egypt Information and Communication Technology Trust Fund.

Yosra El Sayed’s efforts have finally paid off. She completed her first deal to export Bedouin products to Sicily, Italy and has just received a big, five-figure cheque from that deal, her biggest sales record ever.

Yosra has started plans to expand her export activities of Bedouin products, especially to Italy where she has identifies very promising markets.