Shatila Studio trains and employs refugee women in the Shatila Refugee Camp in Beirut as highly-skilled embroiderers, providing them with a source of reliable income to support their families.

Facts & Figures
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  • Location: Shatila Refugee Camp, Lebanon
  • Alfanar Investee Since: 2019
  • Total Alfanar Investment: £30,400
  • Social Impact: 74 women refugees
  • SDGs:

The Challenge

Shatila Studio is a social enterprise based in the Shatila Refugee Camp in Beirut. Originally founded in 1948 to house approximately 3,000 Palestinian refugees, the Shatila camp is now estimated to hold over 40,000 people following the Syrian crisis. Covering an area of approximately 1km2, the camp is one of the most densely populated areas in Lebanon. These Palestinian and Syrian refugees are not allowed to work in Lebanon. Combined with an extremely high cost of living in refugee camps, refugees are desperate for informal work with which to support their families.

The Organisation

The Shatila Studio was started as an NGO program by the Lebanese NGO Basmeh and Zaytouneh in 2012, and it aims to provide refugee women from the Shatila camp with an income and opportunities for professional development. At the end of 2018, with no further donor funding, and faced with the prospect of being forced to close, the core team at Shatila chose to dedicate their time and effort to the project. They aimed to turn the workshop into a financially independent social enterprise.

The ages among the embroiderers range from 20 to 70 years old, and of these individuals, many of whom only received a rudimentary education, 1 in 10 are unable to read or write. For 40% of the women trained and employed at Shatila Studio, their employment is the only source of income for their entire extended family.

Alfanar's Investment: Looking Ahead

With the help of Alfanar, Shatila Studio aims to diversify and increase their production and the size of their own artisan collection that was unveiled in May 2019. While in 2017, the studio was able to generate one-third of their income through product sales, due to reduced funding from donors, they have had to develop at high pace to ensure they are able to cover their costs. The assistance for the studio will also focus on the promotion and marketing of the Shatila Studio brand, and will help raise awareness of the project and its aims, which will increase further increase sales and allow for expansion of the project.

Alfanar will also supply direct technical support and mentorship to the studio, with a focus on building an organisational structure that is fit for purpose. This will help Shatila Studio develop and scale more readily in the future, and will also improve organisational efficiency through the development and adoption of standardised internal policies and procedures.