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EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis

"Thanks to the shop's profits, I was able to help my daughter and get her the medical treatment she needs. I was also able to help my parents, my neighbours and relatives."

Asmaa Al Khawaldi comes Mafraq, a town located just a few kilometers away from the Syrian border. In four years, Mafraq has seen its population more than double, due to the influx of Syrian refugees.

Regarded today as the first women’s rights advocate and entrepreneur, Asmaa once struggled as a single parent who could hardly make ends meet.

“It was very tough at first, because I did not have enough capital. So, my shop had very few items for sale,” she explains.

Through EU funds, Asmaa received a loan and managed to expand her business. Her hard work paid off and she eventually managed to turn her small shop into a profitable venture.

Asmaa’s determination and courage transformed initial hardship into success. The young entrepreneur is now keen to provide for the needs of Syrian refugee women in her area, as well as those of local women.

Today, Asmaa has become well-known in the city for her women’s rights activism. She is determined that work is the only way to success and emancipation.

“I tell women that they can work, just like men. I’ve never met a woman who didn’t want to work. Women should not back down because of society. I would like to tell them to step up and work. Surely, they will succeed,” she says.

Asmaa’s journey took her from financial distress to emancipation and solidarity. Hers is one of many similar succesful stories thanks to the LEADERS project. This project is helping some 250,000 Syrian and local community members become economically self-reliant.