Surrounded by the towering racks of second-hand clothes that fill the garage in front of his modest home, Mohamad is eager to share his approach to the challenges of displacement.
“There is an Arabic proverb that says, need is the mother of innovation. I didn’t want to knock on doors and ask for help. I was thirsty for independence and needed to find a way to achieve it.”
Starting a new business was not something Mohamad set out to do at 60 years old. But, after exhausting his family’s savings and with shortages of aid worsening the situation for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, he was compelled to act.
When Mohamad learned a neighbor was selling his clothing business, the father of 5, who had earned a comfortable living as a car-trader in Idlib, seized the opportunity. However, he was disheartened when he discovered the quality of the stock he had bought.
“I was unimpressed, it was bad,” he recalled.
Refusing to be deterred, Mohamad committed to building the business from the ground up. Through training in Near East Foundation's livelihoods project, he honed his business and customer service skills and a cash grant provided critical funds to increase and improve the quality of his stock.
Over time, Mohamad has established a network of suppliers who understand him, allowing him to buy on credit, and has worked hard to ensure he understands his customers and how to deal with them. Success has not come easily, but Mohamad’s willingness to innovate has begun to deliver rewards.
“Now things are very different. Before, we couldn’t buy bread. Now I can. I have the money to cover our monthly expenses including rent.”
Source: Near East Foundation
Photo: Cassandra Mathie