Fida Abu Turky

Ashoka Fellow

Citation

This profile was prepared when Fida Abu Turky was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Fida is the first entrepreneur in the Arab world to adapt business incubation for the Levantine cultural context in order to create jobs for women, encourage women entrepreneurs, and diversify local community economies. Fida is providing alternative income-generating opportunities for women in rural areas who are marginalized from their society’s labor market, using a grassroots, community-based, and business-adapted approach. Fida’s approach to elevating the economic status of women in the Levant is opening new markets and introducing the concept of business incubation in a region that traditionally relies on charity and loans.

Fida is adopting a venture capitalist approach/model in her initiative to economically empower poor, rural women through her business, Irada (meaning Will Project). According to her business model, Fida provides female clients with seed funding to start their enterprises, technical assistance through a pool of experts to ensure the quality of the products, and marketing services to guarantee the sale of the products in local and regional markets. To ensure Irada’s financial sustainability, Fida takes 20 percent of the sale profits. This 20 percent is reinvested into the Irada brand, operations, and other micro-projects. This approach is unique and the first of its kind with social ventures, especially those targeting women in the Arab region. Given the similarities of conditions of rural women in the Levant and other Arab countries, this model is both transferrable and replicable, not only in Palestine and the Levant, but across countries like Egypt and Morocco.

In addition to targeting women in rural communities who are economically affected by the Separation Wall (e.g. the wall that divides Palestinian territory in the West Bank), Fida plans to provide 10 percent of her grants to women with special needs to help incorporate them better into society. Through her existing efforts beginning in 2009 with Irada’s founding, Fida has provided seed funding for over 1,200 projects.

Over the next five years, Fida will expand outside Palestine by partnering with local organizations in other Arab countries and providing training and coaching on her business incubation model which local organizations can then adopt. Using this strategy, Irada will continue to keep its operations independent, localized, and able to engage local communities of women on a widespread scale.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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