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Za'atar NGO and Project Layali Social Enterprise – Empowering refugees to achieve autonomy

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Type of Information

Project or programme


Zaatar NGO / Project Layali Social Enterprise

Contact Person

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Contact Person Function

Communication manager

Ongoing Project



The primary goal of Athens-based Za'atar NGO is the empowerment of refugees. Through Project Layali Social Enterprise, the NGO seeks to help refugees gain skills that lead to a job or career. This is done through a variety of classes and workshops, work opportunities and development of cultural knowledge about the city of Athens.


Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption

Many people perceive refugees as victims who are unable to help themselves. Za'atar takes a different view. The organisation’s main goal is empowerment through treating refugees normally and giving them the tools needed to gain independence and autonomy.


How does it work

Za'atar provides Greek and English classes to allow refugees to have the foundation needed for the work force, as well as recommendation letters that will ideally result in a job and thus a more stable living situation. In addition to language classes, Za'atar provides a variety of classes to develop skills such as fishing, tailoring, cooking and computer literacy.

Za'atar also strives to get refugees acquainted with the Athenian community through ‘Sunday Funday’ activities in which every Sunday the organisation takes them to a famous place in Athens to see more of and learn about the city.

The organisation recruits volunteers who are refugees themselves to meet refugees’ needs as closely as possible whilst simultaneously introducing them to an international work setting.

As part of Project Layali, Za'atar has set up social enterprises through which refugees and migrants can get permanent jobs that help them achieve independence. So far, the project has opened a hair salon and a shop which sells handmade jewelry, carpets and more. To help refugees and migrants better integrate into the Greek labour market, Za'atar also holds resumé workshops.

Image by Za'atar NGO



Za'atar has opened a salon where it employs refugees as hairdressers. In the future, the organisation hopes to be able to offer manicures, pedicures and other kinds of nail art.

Additionally, Za'atar employs refugees in a shop where they can create and then sell jewelry, carpets, clothing, accessories and more.

The organisation has also started a Greek cooking class that aims to provide the framework and training for employees of their next project, a falafel shop.



The success of the initiatives can be seen quantitatively through class enrolment figures; all classes are full. Za'atar always collects feedback from beneficiaries either in-person or anonymously through a suggestion box. The organisation also receives feedback through its Facebook page.


Who will benefit?

The beneficiaries are primarily men and women between 20 and 30 years old. These individuals mainly come from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Congo, Turkey and Cameroon. 


Source of funding and Resources used

Most funding comes from small organisations in the UK, US and France. Supporters also organise fundraising events such as concerts, sporting events, etc.