We met Sima Ibrahim Jeris Abu Dayeh during a UNIDO convention recently. A 40-year-old Palestinian entrepreneur, born and raised in Palestine, behind her own embroidery brand, Sima. Sima tells us that she was granted the trip to the convention by UNIDO as an effort to promote female entrepreneurship.
She continues: “Early in 2017 I sent an application to the Business Women’s Forum Foundation hoping to find a sponsor supporting female entrepreneurs. In July 2017, I was contacted by the forum and after having seen my work, I was granted a number of courses tailormade entrepreneurs and the trip to the UNIDO convention.”
“I wished to become my own boss, I was longing for more freedom. But most importantly, I have always loved embroidery. That is my passion,” Sima continues.
It started with a wedding gift
Sima started her business adventure after she embroidered a special gift for her brother’s wife, a beautiful blouse. She was then a student and did not have the money for a proper gift. The blouse kicked of a big number of requests for embroidered textiles: shawls, dresses, fans, etc. At the same time, Sima continued her studies and graduated as a Bachelor in Business Administration.
It is not so easy to blaze out your own trail in Palestine and being a women certainly does not help. In addition to the numerous obstacles, Sima is also single and to be able to afford building her own business, she works full time as a secretary at Birzeit University in the French Department. After working hours, seven days a week, she is embroidering, non stop!
A Vocation a la Elie Saab
Sima reveals that Eli Saab is her big idol. Elie Saab was, like Sima, born in Lebanon (1964) and a self-taught fashion talent. His interest in dressmaking started at the young age of 9, already making clothes for his sisters. The talented adolescent sold his creations to the women in his neighbourhood.
“I wanted to establish my own company, help my family and live an independent life. A new beginning really. In the beginning, embroidering was a hobby that eventually developed into a small business. I did not have enough funds to start a business, I did not have sufficient training, nor the required materials which are difficult to buy in Palestine. But I had a dream! and through searching for support and reaching out to people who could help me, I made it happen. Maybe not as far as Mr Saab but this is only the beginning of my adventure.
“I wish that more women would try harder to make their dreams come through. Be strong, be innovative, believe in yourself, study and plan. The more independent women become, the better they can support themselves and their children.