Much of the activity of CJAED's Women's Unit is focused upon the Bedouin women in the Negev aimed at supporting and expanding entrepreneurship in Israel's South in order to further integrate the 160,000 Bedouins living in the Negev into Israel's mainstream economy.
Since 2005, CJAED has led a group business entrepreneurship initiative at the Negev Bedouin settlement of Tel Sheva. The initiative has included a wide range of professional training, mixing the conservative business management and marketing component with a strong battery of professional botanical training, based on the group's plan to establish a business to produce and market cosmetic and dermatological lotions, creams and ointments based on traditional Negev Bedouin herbal medicine. The women in the group continue to benefit from CJAED's consulting and multi-tiered guidance through the process (legal guidance, assignment of project manager to mentor the Asalah's CEO) and in their partnership with leading Israeli cosmetics producer and exporter, Hlavin. Each of the women also received a loan guaranteed fully by CJAED in order to pay her part of the business's establishment.
Asalah developed a line of products which have undergone Hlavin's licensing and lab procedures and have been shown to have a shelf-life of at least 2 years. The group also conducted negotiations with the Mashbir La-Tzarchan department store chain (www.mashbir.co.il) and New Pharm drugstore chain (www.new-pharm.co.il), and were expected to close an agreement for Asalah products to be available at many outlets throughout Israel. Asalah is also looking into ways to expend and grow beyond the initial phase. Once their products have been established within the Israeli market, they will be exported through Hlavin's distribution network.
SinT The Asalah women's collective
Lakiya Negev Bedouin Weaving project
CJAED was involved in the initial phase of the Lakiya Negev Bedouin Weaving project (www.lakiya.org), whose aim is to transform a non-profit women's weaving collective into a successful, profitable and financially independent cooperative business, to the benefit of the roughly 130 women involved in all stages of production: from initial wool treatment, weaving the rugs, cushion covers and pouches, and sales. CJAED has provided guidance, professional consulting and hands-on assistance in the fields of marketing, branding, sales, the business's organizational structure and business plan, fundraising and networking.
As the Lakiya project moves further to complete the final stage of its transformation into a profitable business, CJAED will continue to provide consulting, guidance and networking help as needed.
CJAED has been leading an initiative in partnership with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, in the Bedouin community of Houra, providing Bedouin women with training in textile processing, sewing and clothes production. The project included empowerment training, business management training, assistance in building businesses, and continued guidance. Four participants have established a cooperative business designing and producing Muslim women's fashions; 9 participants opened a sewing factory; and others began taking orders to sew clothing individually from their homes.
CJAED textiles processing, sewing and clothing production course in Houra
In Rahat, CJAED has been leading an entrepreneurship and employment project since 2007, in which 40 Bedouin women received training in job search and computer skills, or building business plans and business management, alongside help in obtaining credit through the Sulam Loan Fund.
In late 2008 a new initiative began at Qasr as-Sirr, a Bedouin village in the Negev near Dimona that was recently recognized thanks to CJAED assistance. Following its recognition, work has begun to develop Qasr as-Sirr on all levels, from electricity and running water, to community institutions and businesses. The CJAED project aims to provide empowerment and business management training and business development support to high-potential women entrepreneurs, and also provide employment-oriented training to women eager to enter the workforce.