Nashwa the Cheesemonger & Scientist
Nashwa, a mother of two children (with one more on the way) lives in the Middle Area District of Gaza with her husband and children. In the basement under her home, she runs Calcium Plus, a small cheese company business. Calcium Plus produces cheese that is fortified with calcium and phytoestrogen to support skeletal and bone health.
Nashwa started researching cheese fortification in 2013 while she was studying at university. With her interest sparked, she continued to test and develop various fortification processes that are safe for human consumption. By 2016, Nashwa had won an award through the Islamic University which granted her funding to get Calcium Plus up and running. Nashwa now holds an honorary membership from Palestinian Food Industries Union, and her products have been patented across Palestine. Currently, Nashwa has employed three friends to work alongside her Dalia Harz, Israa Salim, and Sara el-Souri.
Nashwa has been successful in the face of much adversity, so far she has designed logos, packaging, and distributed her products to the local community. The next steps are to officially register her business and apply for the official labelling of her products.
When asked what Nashwa’s highest priorities were for Calcium Plus, she told us she needed a lot more infrastructure to continue to grow her business. Most importantly, she needs to invest in a pasteurising machine so she can work efficiently and ensure food safety standards.
“I see my project developing in a big way once this infrastructure is available, as it would assist me in developing the project in a big way”.
Like the other women in our Success and Resilience series, Nashwa is also a member of UWAF. Nashwa describes the Forum as being vital to support her funding efforts and capacity building, along with linking her to various industry consultants. After being a member for two years, Nashwa wanted to play a bigger part in the support of the women agripreneurs, so she now acts as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Middle Area District.
“UWAF has a positive impact on women agripreneurs as it strengthens their resilience and supports the continuity of their projects through delivering a range of services. The Forum has helped women develop their websites and social media pages as well as publish some of their success stories. The Forum also hosted a recreational day to showcase the successes of various enterprises to lift the spirits of women agripreneurs, especially after the last war on Gaza in May this year”.
She ends the interview by describing the impact this campaign will have on her and her business,
“The campaign will support me in marketing my products and reaching more people, which in turn will help me grow my business and support my community’s health and wellbeing, particularly that of women and children, especially since calcium supplements can be expensive, much more than expensive than the fortified products I make”.