"It started as a hobby. I was making dresses for my dolls at first. My aunt then gave me a sewing machine and I started making dresses and selling them."
A mother of five daughters and one son, Intisar is a 45-year-old professional tailor from Sheikh Othman district in Aden.
Famous for her beautiful women dresses in her neighborhood, Intesar started her tailoring journey when she was seven years old.
Intisar’s husband, Khalid, passed away in late 2014 causing a devastation to her life and children.
"My husband suddenly got sick and died in November 2014. He was a very kind and loving man," "Khalid was the main caretaker of the family despite the fact that I have been also contributing to the family income through sewing and selling women dresses in a small store I had."
Just when Intesar and her children thought things could not get any worse following the death of their loving husband and father, they faced another loss due to the outbreak of the conflict in March 2015. Although Intesar was trying hard to provide a decent living for her children, her already-low income got worse following the conflict.
"I gave a woman, who used to work as a vendor of my products, dresses worth YER 150,000 (US$ 333) before the conflict broke out. However, the conflict forced the woman to flee her home which was looted and all the clothes were gone. I cannot ask her to compensate me because it was not her fault as she was escaping from death," Intisar said.
"We, however, managed to survive during the conflict as people fleeing into our area came to buy my products. This was because the conflict pushed them away from their homes without even packing their clothes," Intesar said. "The women, though, used to pay in installments because most of them did not have money to buy clothes. I cannot forget how my mother-in-law used to give me food and money sometimes."
Intisar spent the money she made from selling dresses on food and the educational needs of her children only. The income was not enough to buy fabric and other tailoring items to sustain her business. As a result, Intesar was forced to shut down the small store she had as she was not able to pay the rent.
"I had a small store that I opened using a previous loan I received from the Social Fund for Development (SFD) through the Al Etihad Micro-Finance Programme. Nevertheless, I had no choice but to close it to save the money I made in order to provide basic needs for my children. This had affected my income negatively that I was barely able to feed my children and help them continue with their education."
When peace returned to Aden in July 2015, Intesar was compensated by SFD through Al Ethihad Micro-Finance Programme. She received a grant to restore her small business.
“I was able to buy fabric and decorations for dresses with the money I got. I can say that my income was saved and I was able to continue my business.”
In February 2018, Intesar paid the last installment of the past loan provided by SFD. In the same period, she applied for another loan of US$ 666 which enabled her to open another store.
"I am now happy that I have resumed the same work and getting income, even better than before the conflict. I have bought a new sewing machine, fabric and decorations for ladies’ wear. My income has increased that I have been able to employ my niece.
As of May 2018, 1,850 small and micro enterprises affected by the crisis received grants to offset their debts and restore their businesses
My next step is to keep my business growing until I establish a small tailoring factory. I will hire professional tailors to make the most beautiful dresses in the market,” Intisar said with a tone of excitement.
The Yemen Emergency Crisis Response Project (YECRP) is funded & supported by the World Bank, and implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Social Fund for Development (SFD) and the Public Works Project (PWP). The US$ 300 million YECRP aims to revive Yemen’s economy through large cash-for-work projects, support to small businesses, and labor-intensive repairs of socio-economic assets benefiting vulnerable local households and communities across Yemen.