“Libya is an oil producing country, we shouldn’t be struggling”
This is something you will hear very often in any Libyan discussion about the increasing cost of regular food staples in social gatherings.
Libya has the 10th largest proven oil reserves in the world and holds the largest proven oil reserves in Africa. Due to the recent conflict it is now the second smallest producer in OPEC.
Regular things you would take for granted anywhere else in the world are increasingly becoming a huge worry for Libyans. Basic things like going to the bank to withdraw cash are becoming a huge problem. Most banks don’t have cash to give to the people and bank cards are not easy to obtain.
Most of the young Libyans graduating are finding it hard to get a job. Foreign companies have left the country due to recent instability and unemployment is on the rise. People are turning to small business options and taking on previously unwanted jobs to earn an income.
People are finding it hard to even get medical treatment in government hospitals. The health sector is suffering the most with medicine shortages and the increase in closure for health facilities. Women who are pregnant are saving months in advance to afford to go to private clinics for their delivery.
Another major discomfort for Libyans is the ongoing power cuts in some parts of the country. It’s currently summer time with each libyan household containing at least 1 air conditioning unit. This is causing a load on the electricity company. To solve this they’ve been rationing electricity to Tripoli residents which isn’t making everyone very happy. Some lucky residents of the Abusleem area have benefited from no power cuts due to some agreement with the electricity company.
We recently asked the Project Silphium community of Libyan women what they were doing to overcome the new reality we are facing in libya. These struggles can be anything from not having any power to not being able to iron your scarf .
Here are a few of the tips they sent us :
Use a source of power
Whether it is something small like a power bank or something big like a generator .
Although some women are also using car battery with an inverter to produce power in their homes which is quite imaginative.
Avoid talking about politics and the news
This was something nearly everyone agreed on. Focus on anything else other than the state of the country politics which are so complicated we don’t even understand it ourselves. Most people found these two topics to be depressing and had a negative effect on their mental health.
Keep the kids busy !
Lubna Halim says the hardest thing to do is keeping her kids occupied. She tries to keep her kids busy with legos to pass the time during the power cuts.
Lubna has recently opened her new business Mezian specialised in food Photography and Menu Design services. It originally started as a hobby and grew to become a business.
While Samar Enhaisi stresses that she always keeps a happy and positive attitude no matter what life throws your way “ when you’re responsible for your kids, it’s not about you, it’s about them, If you’re in a good mood, they’re in a good mood “
Watch your spending
Because of the cash flow problems currently facing libya, Libyans have started to learn how to budget. People are having to wait hours in front of banks to be able to withdraw a small amount of money. This has resulted in households reducing their spending and limiting it to only the necessary needs.
“Make friends with anyone who works at a bank, they’ll come in handy when you need to know which branch has cash to give that week” anonymous
Become an Entrepreneur and open your own small business
Most Libyans in Libya work at government institutions and are paid by the state.
The recent cash flow problems that the banks are facing means most of the population doesn’t have easy access to cash.
The winners in these hard times are the entrepreneurs and small business owners. They deal in cash and are not in need of a paycheck from the government.
On july 9th Project Silphium along with Omniya Atayari a Libyan woman entrepreneur from Raakez and Tripoli global shapers hosted an interactive lecture “From idea to company” on how to go from an idea to a company.
The hall was full with libyans that were interested in starting their own business from all parts of society. Some of the issues that were discussed were cash flow issues, trouble finding investors, problems associated with the legal system and protection of your copyrights.
Omnia talked about the necessity to create a healthy ecosystem for entrepreneurs to survive. The lecture was made possible due to local businesses who believed in the need for such talks ( farhaty hall and Mozart catering).
These efforts show that we can still support each other through tough times. Even though we are facing difficult obstacles we can’t give up hope on ourselves and our community.
One of the people who has been successful in creating an ecosystem of support is Nessrin Geddah a tripoli hub global shaper and the creator of the Facebook group Tripoli small business center. A place where new Libyan entrepreneurs can go to gain feedback on their business ideas or ask for funding.
Share with us the different ways you are using to overcome the new challenges using #livinginlibya
Khadeja Hussein @k_ramali
PS Team Author