Why livelihoods?

In order to protect the dignity of vulnerable families and implement solutions to poverty that are truly sustainable, ISWA has undertaken a variety of programs in the Livelihoods Sector, designed to impact the value chain in all its components.  We aim to achieve the economic empowerment of communities by targeting women and youth, particularly widows, orphans, and refugees, involving them in programs to increase their employability through training in skills for which there is market demand, reintegrating them into the education system, and enhancing their access to capital.

Vocational training

  • Al Rahma Community Service Center and the Accelerated Vocational Center (AVI)

ISWA established these two centers in 2003, where young men and women between the ages of 14 and 25, particularly those who have dropped out of school or are considered at risk, can choose one of two educational tracks.  The program doesn’t stop there, however; enrolled youth also receive training in life skills, participate in extra-curricular activities, and are linked to local job opportunities. Educational tracks include:

  • Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

ISWA’s TVET program is an integrated academic-vocational training program specifically targeting youth who have dropped out of school, giving them a second chance to complete their academic education while also training them in marketable skills.  Graduates of this program receive official certificates from the Ministry of Higher Education, enabling them either to continue to higher education after graduation, or to negotiate better pay and work conditions upon joining the labor force.

  • Intensive Skills-based Vocational Training

This program, specifically targeting those who have not completed their elementary education, consists of intensive courses in particular fields, designed to increase their marketable skills and earning potential within a short period.

  • Al Umm Tailoring Factory

This program aims to achieve community empowerment by targeting poor and vulnerable women, particularly widows, refugees and orphans, involving them in a nine-month training course covering both technical and theoretical subjects related to the art of tailoring and clothing design.  Upon graduation, women may then be employed at the factory, linked to outside job opportunities, or provided with their own sewing machines to start their own businesses.  The program is largely self-sustaining, partnering with literally dozens of local schools and organizations to sell uniforms in addition to what is produced to stock its showroom, where clothing is made available to the broader community at a low price.

Micro-credit loans

  • The Income Generation Program

This component of ISWA’s microcredit program is specially-geared to enhance the independence of poor and vulnerable people, including widows and orphans, by increasing their skills and access to capital.  Beneficiaries can access supplies and equipment in an amount of up to $3,000 to establish or develop their own micro-businesses.  Prior to accessing loans, widows and orphans in particular are offered training in specific trades as well as entrepreneurship skills, to ensure they have the capacity to successfully establish micro-businesses that can provide a sustainable source of income. 

  • Al Rawasi Program

This component of ISWA’s microcredit program is open to anyone who wishes to establish or develop a micro-enterprise or small business, enabling them to access equipment and supplies up to a value of $10,000, thereby increasing their access to capital and providing them with a form of sustainable income.

A few highlights in the Livelihoods Sector

  • Last year alone, 556 youth were trained in various market-driven technical skills through ISWA’s vocational training program.
  • Since the creation of the Rawasi Program, ISWA has increased the financial stability of 703 families by linking them to microcredit.