Nancy AlZaghal, from Hebron in Palestine’s West Bank, studied applied biology at Palestine Polytechnic University with a scholarship from SPARK and Al Fakhoora. After partaking in an entrepreneurship course, Nancy won second place for her business idea to start a hydroponic farm, receiving a startup grant of $3,000. (See a related article, “Gender-Specific Training Helps Women Entrepreneurs in Vulnerable Economies.”)
Where Nancy lives, arable land for Palestinians is shrinking and the population is growing, which is leading to a food-security crisis. Therefore, Nancy’s idea to farm hydroponically, growing plants in water instead of soil, is a particularly innovative project. The farm not only uses 90 percent less water than traditional farming methods, it costs less too!
“Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved to be beside the plants and the trees because I was always going to my father’s farm. I feel I am a part of this land,” says Nancy.
Her studies and the startup grant helped her to launch her project, called “Go Green.”
“I’m using the money to buy the raw materials, like the pipes, panels and nutrients, as well as hire an expert or advisor to help me with building. Thanks to the support of SPARK and Al Fakhoora, I have achieved my childhood dream and I became the owner of the Go Green farm.”
A Focus on Jobs for Brighter Futures
Since 2015, SPARK and its partners have been responding to the displacement of millions of Syrian young people by ensuring vulnerable youth, both Syrians and nationals of major hosting countries in the Middle East, receive equal education opportunities. Its work doesn’t stop at scholarship assistance, though. It is also helping to build an educated, job-ready workforce.
During their study years, students receive extracurricular civic leadership and economic empowerment courses, psychosocial counseling and other student services, as well as financial support. And after they graduate, SPARK offers a range of career development services, such as job matching, internships, and startup support for entrepreneurial students.
Working with hundreds of education institutions, governments and local organizations in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and the occupied Palestinian Territories, SPARK’s goal is to make sure that young people have brighter career prospects through higher education and vocational training. (See a related article, “Global Partnerships Are Needed to Strengthen Education for 80 Million Refugees.”)