Our impact, their voices

“I am a resilient entrepreneur and a determined mother”

On International Women’s Day, we are sharing an inspiring entrepreneurial journey of Wegden, a Sudanese refugee in Egypt supported by ILO’s entrepreneurship development training programme.

Article | 07 March 2024
Wegden, beneficiary of ILO's SIYB training programme in Egypt ©ILO
Cairo EGYPT(ILO News): Having to flee their homeland in 2020 was distressing for Wegden and her family including her husband and seven children. While they arrived in Egypt with the hope of starting a new life, another blow of fate ripped her world apart, as the husband succumbed to exertion and illness just 23 days after their arrival.

“This was unforeseen and we all were shaken. I somehow gained my strength to ensure the survival of my children,” shared Wegden.

She was a graduate of the Agricultural Engineering Faculty in Sudan. However, the limitations in recognition of her prior degree in a new country, forced her to explore various low skilled income-generating paths.

She attempted to initiate a business of selling home-cooked meals, however soon realized that it would not generate sufficient income to support a family of eight.
Wegden outside her newly opened pet supplies shop in Egypt ©ILO
She followed up with another business idea of selling Sudanese goods to cater to the needs of refugee population and the interested local customers. Although it increased her income marginally, the challenges remained in terms of accessing finance and managing business.
A pivotal moment came when Wegden was introduced to International Labour Organization’s Start and Improve Your Business Programme (SIYB).

"I found the SIYB training at the right time, just when I had entered in to a new business of selling pet products, supplies, and plants in Agami district of Egypt. It was a life-changing experience for me." shared Wegden.

The essential knowledge and skills of book-keeping, product pricing, and marketing helped her improve her income by 40 per cent in a short time. “For the first time after arriving in Egypt, I am making a decent income. Moreover, I am sure of sustaining and growing this business, unlike my earlier ventures,” expressed Wegden with a relief.
Wegden showing the product range from her new business ©ILO
For the ILO, its implementing partner Caritas plays a key role in identifying suitable entrepreneurial candidates, implementing SIYB trainings and to conduct follow up with trainees. "Wedgen’s entrepreneurial journey is inspiring. Despite all the adversities and challenges, she remained motivated and achieved the financial success essential for her family’s survival. It was a proud moment for our organization to be part of her journey towards becoming resilient. It motivates us to reach out more individuals like her,” said Shrouk Ahmed, Project Coordinator, Caritas-Alex. 

“Wegdan's story stands as a compelling example of inspiration, illustrating the potential for positive change and empowerment that ILO programmes bring to individuals navigating adversity. “In Egypt, the PROSPECTS programme has successfully provided over 18,000 opportunities for individuals thus far, out of which 62 per cent are women. We continue our commitment to expanding our impact, reaching the most vulnerable and deserving individuals from host and refugee communities,” said Amir Obeid, Country Programme Manager for ILO PROSPECTS Egypt.

Wegden admits that it is just a start of her entrepreneurial journey and she has miles to go. “I am a resilient entrepreneur and a determined mother. I can’t rest until I am able to complete education of all my children.”