Date: Wednesday, December 23, 2020

 

Hiba Hussein at her voice recording studio in Gaza. Photo: Courtesy of Hiba Hussein.

Hiba Hussein, 33, is a Palestinian woman living in the Gaza Strip. After divorcing her husband, she was not able to financially support her 3 children and, in accordance with the law, her children had to move to live with their father. This motivated her to start a business to be able to get her children’s custody back. Hussein decided to join the “One Stop Shop”, a business development service hub providing technical and financial services to women-led Micro, Small and Medium enterprises. This UN Women-supported programme is implemented by the Business Women Forum in partnership with Headway Academy and funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.

Back when I was a student, I was responsible for the School radio. After graduation, I got married and took an eight-year break from work. After getting divorced later, I needed to earn income to support myself and my children.

I remember reading the advertisement of the ‘One Stop Shop’ project supported by UN Women on a Facebook page and immediately applied for it. My application was approved, and I joined the programme where I learned several skills including marketing, business, customer service and project development.

As part of the project, I participated in a voice-over training to work as a voiceover artist. I also learned marketing on freelance platforms. In 2018, I launched my own business: a voiceover studio called “Ronaly” which means ” euphonious voice”.

I have now a recording studio at my parents’ house, where I provide three main services in Arabic language, including, voice-over for local radio stations, motion graphic design for online advertisement and production of children’s songs.

Currently, I earn a good income that meets my needs and helps me improve and sustain my business. I have a variety of customers, including individuals, companies, radio stations and YouTube channels. Not only in Palestine, but also in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and other countries.

This project added value to my personal and professional life. It helped me set a clearer vision for my business and perform better on my YouTube channel, especially after I received a grant from the project to buy a professional camera and lighting equipment for my business.

More importantly, I feel now empowered and independent. The “One Stop Shop” project enabled me to be financially independent and now I am taking steps to get my children back into my custody. I can fulfil their needs now and provide decent living conditions for them without depending on others.

I was lucky because the COVID-19 pandemic did not affect my business. On the contrary, it was an opportunity for me to better develop my business and expand the base of my customers since online services became highly needed worldwide.

I advise all women to continually develop themselves at the personal and professional levels. I also advise them to dedicate enough time to prepare for the future where they can be financially independent and have a decent life without depending on anyone. Children should always feel safe and know their mothers are strong and capable of protecting them and fulfilling their needs, where no other support is provided.