Finding a way to engage with youth is always a big challenge, this is why as Bethlehem Business Incubator (BBI) and the Yunus Social Business Centre (YSBC), we support interactive activities proposed by our partners. On the 27th of September 2022, Bethlehem University hosted a group of 21 girls and their teachers coming from Fadel Abdeen Vocational School for Girls in Hebron. The students participated in a ‘Walk and Talk’ activity that took them around the historical center of Bethlehem in order to discover some of the main components of ‘Start Your Business’ project, funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and implemented by VIS – Volontariato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo. This activity is the continuation of ‘Start Your Business Trainings’, which is designed to introduce vulnerable youth to the entrepreneurial world.
To begin the activity, the group first visited the Salesian Vocational Training Center in Bethlehem, where the Career Service Officer welcomed the participants and took them to a brief tour of the laboratories and workshops available in the Center. The girls had also the chance to see videos of success stories about women who attended the SVTC and were afterwards able to open their own activities. Before leaving for the second visit, the group had the chance to visit the Salesian Bakery, one of the social businesses incubated by ‘Start Your Business’ project through the BBI and YSBC, and they received a small gift.
The second visit of the group involved the Ma’an lil-Hayat Boutique Hotel, under L’Arche organization. L’Arche Bethlehem is focusing mainly on people with cognitive disabilities aiming at their socioeconomic integration through handmade crafting of wool objects and through the involvement of its core members in the Boutique Hotel management. For young people like the participants to this activity, it is very important to get in contact with different realities and to see with their eyes the impact that associations like L’Arche and Ma’an lil-Hayat are having on their communities. For the BBI&YSBC, and for Bethlehem University, it is important to sustain activities involving people with disabilities of any kind to assure they have an active role in the Palestinian society.
At the end of the trip, the girls had the chance to visit BBI&YSBC at Bethlehem University for an exchange of perspectives on what a startup is, what social business is, and what a social business is used for. They had the chance to ask questions on the matter and express personal ideas and impressions. Before leaving, the participants and the staff had the chance to have lunch prepared by the Hotel Management & Tourism Institution at Bethlehem University.
For the future, we hope to be able to host more activities as such, in order to engage young people from around Palestine in the idea of putting themselves in the center of change, through innovative ways to conceive business and social development.