In line with its ambition of enhancing the livelihoods of millions under its Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever Levant, one of the world’s leading FMCG companies and owner of global brands such as Lipton, Dove, Lifebuoy, Axe, Omo, launched ASILAH Program in Jordan, which consists of making 30 women (refugees and rural Jordanians) financially independent and personally empowered by training them to become micro-entrepreneurs.
The program which is in partnership with the UNDP, aims at training women to choose their own business or become distributors of the “Women Baqala” Program, part of the Baqala program that was launched in June 2018 in Jordan in partnership with UNDP. Baqala has developed the merchandising and sales skills of 103 unemployed Jordanian and Syrians, aged between 18-40 and who have been unemployed for at least 3 months and placed them in grocery stores for a 3-month paid internship. This program was successfully executed in Lebanon in 2017.
The development of ASILAH program is the result of the high number of refugees in both Lebanon and Jordan who face significant barriers to accessing paid work. Women face additional constraints linked to limited mobility and lack of opportunities deemed suitable for them in the face of restrictive socio-cultural norms and associated occupational segregation. However, most women, around six in ten report wanting to work.
Therefore, ASILAH Program is launched to support the integration of refugees and host community women to establish micro-joint ventures and skills exchange partnerships. In addition, it aims to increase women economic participation in the retail distribution segment and empower them in a segment dominated by male entrepreneurs by supporting women to become direct-to-consumer sales distributors and establish their home-based businesses (HBB). ASILAH aims also to create sustainable livelihoods and ensuring long-term self-reliance, to create positive social impact on improving health, hygiene and education level of the entire household, and to support the stabilization of livelihoods with a longer-term vision of building resilience among Jordanians and Syrian refugees in the targeted areas.
ASILAH program falls right in Unilever’s vision to deliver both responsible and sustainable growth. Developing innovative and holistic distribution models provides an enormous opportunity for growth, while at the same time allowing Unilever to make a real difference to people’s lives by addressing issues of poverty alleviation and unemployment.
Ayla Ziz, Managing Director of Unilever Levant & Iraq says, “I am particularly proud to launch Asilah, an inspiring project built by Unilever employees and our partners to positively impact the lives of our communities. Creating livelihoods for local women and refugees and connecting them to markets is necessary to enhance their integration into the workforce and improve their access to long-term self-reliance.”
As for the UNDP Resident Representative, Sara Olivella Ferrer, she noted “UNDP Asilah partnership for development with Unilever, exemplifies how the private sector and multinationals are aligning corporate strategies and investments to maximizing social capital and SDGs Impact in communities who have embraced refugees and migrants, by strengthening gender equality and creating sustainable livelihoods for women and Syrian refugees in nonconventional roles that build soft skills, communication, marketing, and linkages to global business models and practices” we hope to empower these young women to become champions “Asilah” in their communities.”
Unilever Jordan marketing office was established in September 2017, having 14 employees, operating on Hellman’s, Walls, Magnum, Cornetto, Lipton, Knorr, Sunsilk, Dove, Clear, TRESemme, Signal, Closeup, AXE, Rexona, LUX, LIFEBUOY, COMFORT, OMO, JIF, ST YVES, CAMAY, SUAVE.