Self-Employment in Jerusalem: Noor Totah Founder of 3'altkeh

Noor Totah is one of many enterprising Palestinians based in Jerusalem working to overcome the lack of employment opportunities disproportionally affecting the city’s youth. As a student of business administration, Noor began work on the initial idea behind an income-generating project in 2018 and soon after joined the Business Women Forum of Palestine.

However, for Noor conceptualizing, and launching a business required a set of practical skills and access to support that goes beyond the theoretical background local universities provide. And while joining the Business Women Forum was a step in the right direction, Noor still needed access to a team of experts that knew the ins and outs of starting a profitable business.

Step in MENACatalyst with its latest GIZ-funded support program, Empowering Youth through Digital Skills Development, for emerging self-starters based in the city of Jerusalem. The program offers local youth eager to secure entry employment opportunities and those looking to start income-generating projects from their home specialized services to help them fulfill their potential.

Noor joined the program and soon gained access to business enablers, industry experts, and mentors that helped her incubate and conceptualize her income-generating project idea into a virtual business complete with business and financial plan, marketing strategies, and access to markets. During the program, Noor learned to develop and modify her business plans to adapt to the ever-changing business environment affected by COVID-19.

Since joining the program, Noor has been developing her very own income-generating project, 3’altkeh, that combines her love for arts and crafts with her newfound practical business skills.

“While at the university, I became immersed in my studies. So much so that I found I became distant from the activities, volunteer work, and hobbies that I loved. I felt like I should reconnect with my love for drawing and crafting, and with my background in business administration, I thought about starting a business, and I did. With the changes affecting everyone due to COVID-19, I needed help dealing with the current situation, and that is why I joined MENA Catalyst” says Noor.

3'altkeh, Noor's art-inspired project, provides customers with the novel opportunity of not only purchasing but customizing distinctive handcrafts by selecting and personalizing the designs, textiles, and colors of the pieces available. Customizable pieces include kitchen utensils, such as wooden plates, trays, and cutting boards, among others. The next step is for customers to choose their design of choice to infuse on their selected crafts. This includes a wide selection of Islamic motifs, Arabic calligraphy, mandala patterns, and so much more.

“MENACatalyst’s Jerusalem-based program has provided me with the technical guidance and support from entrepreneurs and experienced professionals through group and one-to-one mentorship, integrated training courses, and follow-up services that have helped me further develop my project," says Noor.

Moving forward, Noor hopes to gain the resources needed to establish a physical shop for her handcrafts and provide an inclusive space that allows other crafters and artists to showcase their work.

When asked what advice she would give to aspiring self-starters, Noor had this to say, “Any small idea can be transformed into a working project. We should never underestimate or dismiss any project as insignificant because it has the potential to grow and create countless opportunities for others.

Written by
Leila Farraj
- Palestine
Leila Farraj is a freelance consultant for MENACatalyst’s Digital Content . Since the launch of MENACatalyst, Leila has been integral in developing and managing content that strategically reflec... Leila Profile
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