Samar Itani, Lebanon Playing with the Sands of Success

Lebanon (2015)

Samar Itani’s idea was simple and beautiful: she collected sand from the seashore and used it to decorate creative art objects that she had made or she tinted it in various colours and bottled it in eye-catching layers that would decorate a home interior.

At first, this artistic Lebanese lady worked on her own from home and her business was a small home-based hobby where she made money by selling her creations to family and friends. Today, “Samar Handicrafts” has a flourishing art business that yields an income of $140,000 annually and an atelier with 28 ladies helping her to finish the monthly demands she has to deliver. She is teaching in Fabriano College, and she is a partner in an art college-gallery. She also runs a training centre through which she mentors other women entrepreneurs and passes on the lessons she learnt in the UNIDO-EDIP programme.

“ I went into business on my own in order to support my family, through having additional income, before becoming the only breadwinner for 3 teenage boys,” she recalls, “I started from home creating artistic projects, till I felt the need to learn new hard skills to reshape my talent. So I went to an art school and studied art and design.

I started to go deeper into my business, and I started to teach art as well. But it was at UNIDO’s EDIP Lebanon program that I attended through the Hariri NGO that I realized how much goes into a successful business mix. We got soft skills training and learnt about cost analysis, pricing, marketing and more. Counseling sessions followed to bring things together, to complete the picture of a business that turned into a career.”

With the UNIDO-EDIP program, Samar learnt to update the way she ran her business and streamline it for success, expansion and profitability.

The UNIDO EDIP program helped Samar to re-brand her business and helped her to think big and turn her business into a smart business. As a first step, her mentors in the program helped her to assess the market and come up with a redefined product line that met market needs. The program helped her to gain the hard skills support by giving an opportunity to needy housewives to work with her and get paid depending on their productivity and at the same time meeting her customer commitments. The UNIDO-EDIP support enabled Samar to expand from Lebanon to GCC, especially after she participated in Bahrain in the UNIDO women entrepreneurs’ forum.
Being a member in the Artisan League, Samar helped to establish the EDIP Lebanon Entrepreneurs’ Market where the League set up a Permanent Exhibition with the support of the Ministry of Industry.

In conclusion, Samar said, “Lebanese women entrepreneurs are good fighters, they are struggling to survive in a masculine society and a critical country. I advise the entrepreneurs to focus on their businesses, and UNIDO entrepreneurs to benefit from this opportunity that guides them to think, start and grow their own dream.”