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From 10-13 October 2011, IFAD together with Phelps Stokes Fund and in collaboration with the Government of Benin, Songhai Centre, Palmares Fundação cultural, Fundación Activos Culturales Afro (ACUA) and the GIVE 1 Project is holding a four-day event for young entrepreneurs - agents of change.

This morning, I met Nabiha Farrag - one of the many participants of this event. Farrang is a young Egyptian entrepreneur who runs a handicraft workshop in Asyut, south of Cairo.

"I am coming to this event to share what I am doing with a wider audience. I see this as a business opportunity to show case my products and to advance my activity", says Farrag.

Farrag started her handicraft business inspired by her father's work. After working with him for 15 years, four years ago she spread her wings and set up her own workshop. Her biggest challenge was and continues to be access to credit.

"To set up my workshop, I got an initial loan of EGP3000 and after I showed that I was credit-worthy I managed to get an extra EGP5000."

Farrang's monthly income is just enough to make ends meet. To really take the workshop  but to really take the workshop to scale, she needs approximately EGP20,000 to buy additional equipment and quality raw material.


Farrag hopes that this event will give her a platform to share her experience, to make new contacts, to show case her products, to manage to mobilize resources so that she can further advance her business.

"I will have a stand during the event and sincerely hope that when people see the workshop's products, the orders will start pouring in. One of my aspirations and goals from this event is to be able to sell my products and make enough money to buy the additional equipment I need for the workshop", explains Farrang.

Farrang although married is practically a single mother. "I am coming to this event with lots of hope. It was a great sacrifice to leave behind my four year old son. I sincerely hope that I get a lot from this event", tell me Farrang.

And we all hope that on Friday when she leaves, she leaves rich in heart, in soul, in knowledge and as they say in French rich in "sous". We should not forget that  investing in women and young girls is the pathway to stability and growth. This is why it is important to empower women, because by doing so, we make sure that the entire community thrives.

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