A Jordanian woman living in a cramped historic home in the city of Salt had a very special visitor on Monday, February 11th, the Queen of the Netherlands, Reuters reported.
Queen Maxima was on a several-day visit to Jordan in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. Her aim was to address vulnerable populations' access to financial services in Jordan.
She stopped by at Fatima al-Zobi's home, an entrepreneur who converted her house, built in 1926, into a tourist attraction and spent an afternoon with Zobi, and tried some of her home-made delicacies.
The Queen said, "It is extremely important that women are independent. Examples of entrepreneurs like Fatima here are wonderful, and investing in women to be successful and being an example to other women is extremely important".
Zobi started her business out by getting a small loan from Micro-fund for Women, a non-profit organisation founded in 1996 that provides financial services to low-income, small business owners.
With the 200 JDS (280 USD) loan, the mother of five was able to start a small business selling homemade dishes. She has since transformed her work into a small catering business, and turned her home into a tourist hub where she hosts visitors, giving them delicious food and telling them stories about Jordanian history and culture.
Zobi added, "I became a prominent member of my society, everyone started knowing about me, Um Mohammed Al Amairah (Al Zobi's married name) for catering. In addition to this, I was able to prove my capabilities and my strength, and that I am a productive woman".
Fatima also said her hope is that more and more women will follow her example and feel empowered to take charge of their lives by starting businesses.
According to Muna Sukhtian, managing director Micro-fund for Women, the organisation has provided loans to more than 150,000 women like Fatima around the country. She said, "The idea is that using a small amount of money, a woman can create a very small project, which is why we call it a micro-fund, through this she can support her family's income."
According to data published by the Central Bank of Jordan in 2017, the percentage of adults in the country with access to financial services has risen from 24.6% to 33.1%.
A national strategy is in place that focuses on reaching more people who don't have access to these services, including women, people who live in rural areas, and refugees