He has just had a new loan approved by his bank and is negotiating angel investment to modernise and grow his factory.
Last month, Mr. Ebara exhibited his products at the Cairo International Exhibition for the first time and received a number of export and supplier leads. “The Forsa programme has raised my aspirations to become the largest cushions, pillows and mittens producer in the region,” he said.
Forsa mentor and businesswoman Dr. Radia Alswei said that she has so much confidence in her young mentee Ibrahim Al-Ameen that she hopes that one day he will lead one of her start-up ventures.
She also noted that the mentoring programme had been beneficial for her as well. “The day after attending Forsa workshop, I lost most of my pharmacy’s stock due to flooding,” she said. “However the new energy and positive attitude I gained at the workshop helped me master the strength to put my business back together and quickly recover the losses.”
She said that she has subsequently volunteered for another start-up mentoring programme where she helped three young women entrepreneurs to launch a designer label for ladies scarves.
In addition to Libya, Forsa has held mentoring workshops in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. In 2013, Forsa held a total of 24 workshops in the six countries, helping 303 inexperienced entrepreneurs to find mentors. Of these, over 70% were under 35 and 33% were women.
According to Shakiry, Forsa is now working with Arab governments and other stakeholders on developing national mentoring policies to support future mentoring programmes across the region.
Forsa is implemented by Adam Smith International, the Mowgli Foundation and Upper Quartile. In Libya, Forsa organised the mentoring workshops in partnership with Consultant’s Alliance, a consultancy that seeks to advance professional skills and enterprise development in Libya.