Syrian youth break into the world of entrepreneurship, supported by UNICEF

“Seeing Aman’s passion for cooking, I started thinking of a project to help her reach her full potential in life,”

Sandra Awad and Yasmine Saker
two girls
UNICEF/ Syria 2019/ Muhannad Al-Asadi
15 July 2019

“I was supposed to support my sister and help her find her way in life, but she ended up changing mine forever,” says Bayan, 23, whose sister Aman, 21, caught meningitis only days after birth, causing her to lose hearing.

 “Throughout our childhood, it was my mother who made the biggest effort, learning sign language and teaching us to communicate with Aman and help her connect with others” recalls Bayan, now a senior student of psychology.

Upon finishing high school, Bayan started volunteering in a charity for the hearing-impaired that Aman used to frequent daily. In this charity, Bayan taught formal Arabic through sign language. The more time she spent with her sister, the more she wanted to find a way to help her cope with her situation. 

A girl with a notebook
UNICEF/ Syria 2019/ Muhannad Al-Asadi
Bayan, 23, supported her sister to realize her dream of opening her own pasta shop, funded through the UNICEF-supported livelihoods, seed-funding and entrepreneurship programme.

“Since early childhood, Aman used to spend hours watching cooking programs on TV. She also spent most of her time after school with our mother in the kitchen, learning how to prepare delicious meals.”


When Bayan found out about the livelihoods, seed-funding and entrepreneurship programme supported by UNICEF through IECD ( Institut Européen de Coopération et de Développement), she and Aman immediately signed up for the 10-day workshop designed to help Syrian youth cope with the impact of eight years of conflict and reach their full potential in life.

Since the beginning of the year and thanks to generous contributions from Canada and Luxembourg, almost 72,000 children and young people aged 10 to 24 benefited from an extensive training on entrepreneurship, civic engagement and life skills, of whom 117 youth-led initiatives received seed-funding to turn their projects into reality.

 “This workshop was so beneficial for us; many businesses briefly open then shut down because the business plan was not prepared well,” says Bayan.

“Now we know that we have to account for everything carefully before taking any step”.

Aman and Bayan were two of the youth who received seed-funding to make their dream restaurant come true. They are now searching for a shop to rent and start their project, with Aman being the head chef.

A girl
UNICEF/ Syria 2019/ Muhannad Al-Asadi
Aman,21, became hearing-impaired shortly after birth but did not let anything get in the way of her passion for cooking. She recently received funding from UNICEF through the livelihoods, seed-funding and entrepreneurship programme to start her very own pasta restaurant.

“I am supporting her with everything I can, not only because she is my sister, but because I owe her my new life. My sole ambition in life was to graduate and get a job, but Aman taught me to dream bigger”.