Taking small strides towards achieving big dreams Stories

26 June, 2019

Hand-rolled and richly flavored croissants is just one of the different pastries Palestinian Heyam Ahmad Ali Hamideh, has mastered. Heyam remembers how it all started, “Baking western pastries was absolutely not my typical career choice as a Palestinian woman. In fact, this choice was far from my educational background. In 2005, I completed my bachelor’s degree in information systems from Al-Quds Open University, with high aspirations to become a teacher. After graduation and for more than eight years, I worked as a part-time substitute teacher, but I was never able to secure long-term employment within my specialization.”

After being unemployed for more than five years and starting to lose hope, Heyam decided to venture into the world of traditional Palestinian sweets as a hobby and with no prior training. Only after enrolling in an online western sweet-making course, did the passion and energy within her suddenly erupt. Once introduced to this non-traditional product, her husband, family, friends and neighbors adored the new western flavors. This encouraged Heyam to make a career out of these pastries, specializing in producing croissants that delighted clients. She started her home-based business under the brand name “Delice Gateaux”, baking tarts and cakes on a very small-scale and as a primary source of income for her household.

This dedication paid off because Heyam was one of the winners of the 2019 Best Agri-food Product Made by Women Award. As part of its mandate to encourage women entrepreneurship, the Generating Revenue Opportunities for Women and Youth in the West Bank (GROW)project organized the award in May 2019 to highlight women’s contribution to agri-food in the West Bank.

“I heard about the 2019 Best Agri-Food Product Made by Women Award from a friend, who encouraged me to attend the outreach workshop in Hebron. It was the first time in my life that I applied to a national competition. I decided to submit my most popular product, which is the croissant, because it’s a non-traditional agri-food. I never imagined I would win.” For Heyam, participating in a national competition under the patronage of the Ministry of National Economy represented a great opportunity for exposure to potential clients and market actors.

“I didn’t have the courage to negotiate prices with customers. My personality now is stronger.”

Becoming a professional cake artist and baker was nowhere in Heyam’s career plan. Venturing into this new path changed her. She explains, “I didn’t have the courage to negotiate prices with customers. My personality now is stronger. The competition will also pave the way to making small strides towards my dreams. It opened my eyes and encouraged me to think big.” With the prize money, Heyam bought the needed machines and oven for baking. She also has a dream of opening her own bakery in Bethlehem and expanding marketing of her products nationwide.

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