The 13 women who make up the cooperative each receive a share of the profits, as well as a salary, earned from their work preparing and processing the food. The local farmers who sell their crops also benefit.
‘My way of empowering women’
In all, UN Lebanon has supported 94 cooperatives from different villages in Lebanon such as Deir Al Ahmar, Fneidek, Qana, Harissa, and Lehfed, with a focus on women. This support has been in the form of cash for work and in-kind support such as raw materials, equipment, and tools. At least 6,000 individuals have benefited from the .4 million project, funded by the German Development Bank KfW, through the UN Development Programme.
Ms. Akiki started out in the food industry around two decades ago, running food processing workshops and training sessions for women. This experience led her and her colleagues to form Al Atayeb as a cooperative, create job opportunities, and ensure that all members would share in the success of the enterprise.
“Teaching food processing skills was my way of empowering women”, says Samira Zoughaib Akiki, the chairperson of Al Atayeb. It also empowered me, given that I was surrounded by generous women with a vision”.
Al Atayeb cooperative has been a key factor in helping many families in Kfardebian survive the crises, making women proud of themselves and their community. “Our cooperative represents the values we believe in”, continues Ms. Akiki proudly. “We work with passion. We help our community and serve the public good“.