Egypt: Salesian Missions Sunrise Project’s seed grants allow refugees to launch home-based businesses

from Salesian Missions
Published on 18 Jun 2018 View Original

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Egypt are offering new seed grants to past graduates of the Salesian Sunrise Project for refugees and vulnerable Egyptians. This year, 400 people are receiving support as part of this project. In addition, 80 past graduates were invited to participate in in-depth seed fund grant training. These graduates submitted entrepreneurial projects to the Sunrise team who chose to fund approximately 40 projects. Selected grantees received $500 and six months of mentorship to launch their business.

One of the grantees, Hwaida ELtegany Awaad, is a 48-year-old mother of five and is originally from the Sudan. She created a home-based sewing business with her seed funding. Awaad is the head of her household and responsible for caring for her children and her mothers. The seed funding allowed her to launch her business using her sewing machine, an iron, needles and bed fabrics. She had sewing training in the Don Bosco Institute and is now making bed sheets and pillow covers for her clients. She is also using the leftover fabrics to make sofa remote control holders.

Awaad is promoting her products through her connections to some of the high-class Egyptians in the fifth settlement. She is making excellent profits from the remote holders. In fact, she is making more money from the remote holder than the bed sheets. Now, she is thinking about starting a workshop with other Sudanese women.

Another seed grant recipient, Aldardaa Makin, is a 35-year-old Sudanese mother of two children who is also responsible for taking care of her husband. She launched a home-based business using two sewing machines, colorful yarns and needles, reinforced plastic bags and special fabrics for bags. Makin is creating hand bags, toys and shopping bags.

“The technical training and seed grant program have allowed many participants to increase their skill level and launch their own businesses,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The additional social services provided during this project have also been a real success, ensuring that participants have the health screening they need as well as the nutrition in order to focus their attention on the training.”

In 2014, Salesian Missions (thanks to support of external donors) began working with the Instituto Don Bosco in Cairo to fund scholarships as part of the Sunrise Project. This skills training program assists refugees and vulnerable Egyptians in gaining the technical and life skills they need to find employment and support their families.

Including this project year, the Sunrise Project in Cairo has improved the livelihoods and quality of life of more than 1,300 Sub-Saharan African and Syrian refugees and vulnerable Egyptians. Of this total, 46.9 percent were female. Some 62.8 percent were African, 8.3 percent were Syrian and 28.9 percent were vulnerable Egyptians.

Egypt serves as both a destination and a transit country for refugees and asylum seekers. More than 221,675 people of concern from over 60 countries are registered by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)—a population increase of over 44 percent since 2016. Syrians comprise 57.8 percent of the total people of concern. Of the rest, 49.5 percent are from South Sudan and Sudan and 36.5 percent are from other countries in the Horn of Africa

The vast majority have fled wars and conflict in their homelands and have come to Egypt seeking shelter and safety and as a transition to their next destination. Many end up in Cairo’s slums without means of making a living due to restrictive national labor laws for refugees and discrimination from Egyptians. Many of these refugees are women and children who have been forced into poverty with little means to provide for themselves.

Through the Sunrise Project, Salesian missionaries offer vocational and technical training to assist refugees in gaining the skills needed for employment in their new host countries, which for many is particularly challenging due to labor laws and a lack of established social and professional networks.

This project also provides life skills training, health awareness, entrepreneurship literacy workshops, job panels, seed grants, and violence prevention training to help refugees build the skills needed to succeed in the workplace and adjust in their new urban environments. One of the great successes of the project is the additional social services, including transportation vouchers for travel to and from the courses, funded for participants. Those engaged in the training are also provided vouchers to purchase groceries and other items from a local store. This helps to ensure that basic needs like nutrition are met for these individuals, as they work hard to meet the needs for themselves.

Each participant also receives a voucher for a primary care checkup and eye exam with a doctor who comes to the school. Some medicine prescriptions are included, and they receive referrals for secondary care as needed.