Women do Business

Meet Zgharta’s sibling entrepreneurs: Marina and Hind Nehme

Two sisters who won an ILO competition for their gluten free business speak about their journey with the ILO

Feature | 16 January 2023

In a small shop in Zgharta, in the north of Lebanon, surrounded by greenery and beautiful olive trees, Hind Nehme, a 29-year-old entrepreneur with celiac disease, is working tirelessly to produce gluten free Christmas delicacies, in order to help people with gluten sensitivity enjoy the festive season guilt-free.

Hind Nehme is the co-owner of a small business called HESTIA which she established in October 2021 with her sister Marina, specialized in nutrition. The sisters won a seed fund two months ago in the Women do Business Experience competition under the ILO’s Productive Sectors Development Programme (PSDP) project, funded by the Government of Canada in partnership with the LEE Experience.

The ILO team visited the Hestia kitchen in Zgharta to check up on the progress of the business and sampled some of the gluten free and organic goods that were being produced including chocolate, peanut and pecan butter, dried fruits and other delicacies.

As a celiac disease sufferer, Hind understands the struggles many people with gluten sensitivity face in finding good quality gluten free products in the market at a reasonable price. Hind is applying her cooking skills and Marina her nutritional ones, in order to offer gluten intolerant patients healthy and tasty snacks at a relatively low cost.

The reason behind the name HESTIA

In Greek methodology, Hestia was the goddess of the hearth, home and family. Legend also says that cooking with fire appeases Hestia. Inspired by the mythology, Marina and Hind decided to name their business HESTIA especially as their very first product – crispy dried fruits – was and still is made through extreme dehydration and by applying fire.

What’s next?

Hind and Marina are thrilled at having won the competition and they are planning on using the seed fund to advance their work by introducing new savory snacks and buying a stainless steel table, raw materials for Christmas delicacies, in addition to tempering and food processing machines. They are also grateful for the attention the ILO has been granting them in partnership with the LEE Experience by checking up on their needs and the progress of their work. Hind says that with the support of the ILO and their implementing partners, they were able to create job opportunities by hiring a worker to help prepare delicacies, a freelance graphic designer and a freelance photographer. Male and female workers are also brought in to help during harvest time and overcrowded seasons. The ILO’s support also helped HESTIA in responding to the needs of people with gluten intolerance in providing gluten free snacks at a relatively low cost.