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Home-based cooking service in Mafraq becomes a micro-business

Oct 23,2014 - Last updated at Oct 23,2014

By the age of 30, Ruwaidah had already experienced a divorce, the regret of being a high school drop out, and the success of having started from scratch to running her own catering business. 

The story of Ruwaidah is a story of challenges and improvements, but — in the end — a story of good taste.

Born and raised in Mafraq, 80km northeast of Amman, Ruwaidah is now back with her family of five brothers and four sisters. 

Most of them are married; two of them are employed and two are involved in vocational work. 

Before joining a UNDP training programme, Ruwaidah had also been employed at the Royal Medical Services in Mafraq.

She started working on a catering kitchen service providing production and delivery of food at the Islamic Centre in Mafraq. There, as Ruwaidah puts it, she “met three ambitious women from Mafraq who were facing income-related difficulties”. 

In pursuing her dream of becoming self-employed, together with these women, she started a home-based kitchen activity to provide small-scale catering services.

From the initial cooking and processing of minor food orders, the business gradually increased. 

These three women started receiving orders for bigger events to supply the growing demands throughout the governorate. 

The catering idea was so greatly appreciated that when she received the “umpteenth request for wedding catering”, Ruwaidah decided to turn her home-based occupation into a catering business, which could also allow her to create job opportunities for other women within the community.  

Ruwaidah’s motivation to run her own business also stems from a desire to provide a better future for her family.

As the need for a bigger location became as high as the rental cost for a commercial space in town, the women jumped at their chance when they heard about the UNPD micro-business programme, which is funded by Japan. 

At one of the community meetings held in the governorate, Ruwaidah and the others met the programme coordinators who oriented them about the stages of the project and micro-business training opportunities.

Selected for the training, Ruwaidah attended an intensive five-day course that covered important topics such as feasibility studies, marketing and financial planning. The training programme has given her many ideas about how to improve her business and promote catering services. 

Selected for funding after the pitching sessions that give grants to the best business projects, Ruwaidah is now in the process of registering the business officially. 

”Thanks to UNDP and the Japanese government who provided such opportunities, we have been able to put our ideas on the ground and go ahead with our business ideas,” she said. 

The kitchen will be located near Municipality Street in downtown Mafraq, and will provide additional employment opportunities for local women, as well as “high quality meals” and some traditional mansaf, ouzi and kabseh.

The UN office in Amman contributed this article to The Jordan Times on the occasion of UN Day.

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