Tarfa's Journey to Entrepreneurship and Empowerment

March 17, 2024

Tarfa happily making bread

© UNDP Syria – Zuhir Al-Fourati

“My journey was not easy, but with my family by my side and the support of UNDP made it easier for me,” said Tarfa, 38 years old, mother of seven from Al Mayadin in Deir ez-Zor Governorate, eastern Syria. She is one of the women who received training as part of the empowerment and livelihoods project to support her family. 


Tarfa heard through her neighbours about a project that aims to empower women and help them earn a living in different professions including baking, beekeeping, leather tanning, compost, and medicinal herbs, among others.


“The project was a turning point in my life. I could not imagine being one of the trainees. I applied and waited anxiously to hear back from them, hoping I would be accepted,” Tarfa said. “I chose baking because I felt it suited me. I had a passion for it, in addition my modest knowledge and experience,” she added.


Tarfa successfully obtained the necessary skills and training required for pastry, bread, and sweets making. Additionally, she underwent training in marketing, basic accounting, and calculating profit and loss. After completing her training, Tarfa received a grant that enabled her to buy the necessary equipment to start her home-based business selling pastry and bread.


“I started by going to schools, health centres, and markets to distribute flyers advertising my business,” Tarfa explained. In no time, Tarfa became one of the most renowned women selling baked goods in town. She even trained two other women and provided them with opportunities to work, mainly when she received large orders.


Tarfa sharing some freshly backed pastries with her family

©UNDP Syria - Zuhir Al-Fourati

Tarfa's success is one of the positive outcomes of the Joint Programme (UNDP- UNFPA – FAO)  interventions in Deir ez-Zor, implemented by UNDP with funds from the Government of Italy. Through this intervention, the Government of Italy’s support improved the livelihoods of 510 people, with 120 receiving specialized vocational training at the Rural Development Centre (RDC).


The Joint Programme provides a holistic approach to empowering crisis-affected households in Al Mayadin, Deir ez-Zor, with special focus on persons with disabilities (PwDs), women and youth. Efforts by UNFPA, FAO, and UNDP complement each other, providing a comprehensive package at the household and community level. Joint targeting of beneficiaries is improving socio-economic conditions, enhancing access to health and social protection services, food security, and ultimately strengthening resilience and community cohesion.


Today, Tarfa is able to secure an additional income and help her husband support their large household. She sent two of her children back to school after they had to drop out because they could not afford school expenses. 


“My goal was to learn and earn a dignified living. I also wanted to transfer the knowledge I earned to other women in the village for free,” concluded Tarfa.

“My goal was to learn and earn a dignified living. I also wanted to transfer the knowledge I earned to other women in the village for free”
Tarfa from Deir ez-Zor