Najah lives with her 5 children in a refugee camp in the West Bank near Jericho, one of the oldest cities in the world. Her husband spends most of the week in Israel due to his work, so she runs the household and the business.
Having taken out a loan through Kiva to help build her business, Najah is living up to her name, which means “success” in Arabic, by running a successful venture raising sheep and goats to sell milk and meat.
Najah works in difficult conditions — the West Bank economy is in crisis and many families like Najah’s have to scrape together a living in refugee camps or settlements. Life for women is especially hard and economic and financial opportunities are limited.
According to the latest World Bank Findex survey, only 25 percent of Palestinians above 15-years-old had access to an account at a financial institution, compared with a regional average of 43.5 percent. Most loans in the West Bank are made between family or friends.
When she heard that her loan was funded by many lenders around the world, she was delighted to learn how others had believed in her project.
Despite the challenges of accessing finance, Najah was able to apply for a loan through Kiva’s Field Partner Palestine for Credit & Development (FATEN), which works with small-scale and micro-level entrepreneurs, particularly women.
Her $2,000 loan was funded by 69 lenders on Kiva and she used the loan to buy more sheep and create healthy living conditions for them. She purchased 6 pregnant sheep, which soon gave birth to babies.
Najah says the babies require a great deal of care when they are young. They need help drinking from their mother and they must be kept warm at night because the temperatures can drop severely in a desert-like environment like Jericho. The weather can be oppressively hot during the day, but Najah creatively devised a way to secure revolving fans on the ceiling of her shed to allow for air circulation.
Read more: Kiva partners in Gaza and the West Bank go the extra mile to support borrowers
The baby sheep and her goats continue to grow and tending to them requires a lot of hard work, but Najah’s love of animals motivates her. The wellbeing of her animals is a top priority, which is easy to see as she interacts with her sheep and goats as well as her 9 pets (including everything from a cat to birds to turtles).
Najah is proud that kids in the refugee camp love visiting her ‘zoo’ home. She now hopes to get a second loan to grow her goat business and build a new home for her family.
When she heard that her loan was funded by many lenders around the world, she was delighted to learn how others had believed in her project — she thanks all of those lenders and invites everyone to visit her.
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Story by Kiva Fellow Rachel Moore and Diana Baule, Kiva marketing intern. Photos by Eric Brandt.