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Yemen’s conflict cannot take away this refugee’s entrepreneurial spirit


Yemen’s conflict cannot take away this refugee’s entrepreneurial spirit

12 March 2021 Also available in:
© UNHCR/Marie-Joelle Jean-Charles

Said has lost a lot in Yemen’s long-running conflict. His home. His business. But one thing he’s not going to lose is his entrepreneurial mindset.

Back home in Al Hudaydah on the Yemen’s west coast, Said had a successful business making traditional ornate floor cushions known as madkha. But after a wave of violence swept the area in 2018, the family went from living a comfortable life to fleeing with nothing – joining the estimated 3.65 million Yemenis displaced internally by the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The family found safety in Aden, where Said now works as a recyclable waste collector. He is one of more than 200 people that have benefited from a project launched by UNHCR to address the dire need for livelihood opportunities, providing tricycles and protective gear to those already engaged in collecting recyclable materials in the city.

Said works 12-hour days, collecting plastic bottles and cans to sell and making an equivalent of around HK$30 each day. It might not be a lot, but his average monthly income has doubled since receiving the equipment.

“At the end of the day, I make enough to feed my family and pay for small expenses,” Said explains. “With the tricycle, in just a little over two months I was able to improve my life.”

Said also received a one-off cash assistance payment from UNHCR, which he decided to invest in the materials he needed to begin making madkhas again.

“I know I can restart my business here and make enough to support my family,” Said says.

“I wish for my kids to be able to go to school to improve their life. I wish for all to live in health and peace and I trust that with the tricycle, my will, and God’s help, I can start again and make a better life for us.”


To learn more: 2020 Update and 2021 Plan



The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.