Aleppo’s youth contribute to their community, supported by UNICEF’s entrepreneurship programme

This story was written by a group of youth who received training on photography and storytelling, under UNICEF’s adolescent development and participation programme (ADAP) and thanks to generous contributions from Germany and Canada.

A group of youth
Youth workshop
UNICEF/Syria 2019/Ali Almatar

14 May 2019

Aleppo, Syria, 14 May 2019- Eight years of violence and displacement have prevented young people across Syria from engaging meaningfully in their communities, adding to their vulnerability and putting their future at risk.

To build the capacity of youth affected by the conflict in Syria and help them reach their full potential in life, UNICEF launched a livelihoods, seed-funding and entrepreneurship programme. Thanks to contributions from Luxembourg and Canada, over 43,500 young people received trainings on life and employability skills, vocational education, civic engagement, entrepreneurship and seed-funding across Syria since the beginning of 2019. The programme helps youth prepare social and business entrepreneurship initiatives that address pressing challenges in their communities, as well as funding to launch them.

Meet three of the young women who started their projects with support from UNICEF in Aleppo, contributing to their community and the local market.

Youth workshop
UNICEF/Syria 2019/Ali Almatar

Alaa, 23, participates in a local fair in Aleppo to showcase her project offering children an easy way to learn French, having received entrepreneurship and seed funding training, supported by UNICEF.

A graduate of French literature, Alaa, 23, wanted to help young children facing difficulties learning French, which is part of the Syrian curriculum. Working with language experts, Alaa put together a package including a book, flash cards and visual aids, as well as a YouTube channel to help children learn through edutainment activities. 

“I faced a few challenges in the beginning like the lack of French language experts remaining in Aleppo, but I was determined to carry on with my original project and help children learn in an interactive way all by themselves,” explains Alaa.

Alaa’s ‘Allez Notre Petit’ package is available in stores and bookshops across Aleppo for reasonable prices. The young woman aspires for her products to be used in summer schools and language centres across the country. She’s also preparing to start teachers’ trainings on her curriculum.

Youth workshop
UNICEF/Syria2019/Ali Almatar

Alaa, 23, participates in a local fair in Aleppo to showcase her project on self-development, having received entrepreneurship and seed funding training, supported by UNICEF.

Alaa, 23, has lived through years of hardship, having been displaced by violence 12 times with her family.

“Being one of the youths impacted by conflict, having to balance my education with working to support my family while trying to maintain my ambitions and hope for the future, I understand their suffering,” says Alaa.

To help vulnerable youth regain control over their lives and plan for their future, Alaa created a notebook with planners, to-do lists, inspirational quotes and drawings, and a journal. Being the first of its kind in the local market, Alaa’s product is popular among young people and has so far sold over 300 copies. Alaa also donates part of her proceeds to local NGOs working for the education of vulnerable children.

Youth workshop
UNICEF/Syria 2019/Reem Ourfali

Zain, 25, participates in a local fair in Aleppo to showcase her project offering reading therapy, having received entrepreneurship and seed funding training, supported by UNICEF.

A graduate of psychology, Zain, 25, wanted to do something to help people suffering from the psychological impacts of war.

“Back in university, I studied approaches of reading therapy where psychologists guide patients to certain reading materials to contribute to their healing,” she explains.

Funded and mentored by UNICEF, Zain opened ‘Sham’ centre, providing reading therapy through original reading materials, and serving as a bookstore and reading club for children. Zain has so far sold over 1,000 books and receives around 70 children regularly at her centre.