“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.

by PS Team 

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.

For the most young Libyans  it is hard to get a job after graduating. 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 increasing closure of health facilities. Pregnant women are saving for months in order to afford delivery in private clinics.

Another major discomfort for Libyans is the ongoing power cuts in some parts of the country. During the summer time each Libyan household contains at least one 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 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. 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 news 

This was something nearly everyone agreed on. Focus on anything else other than country’s politics which is so complicated, we don’t even understand it ourselves. Most people found these two topics 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, 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 enough 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”, she says.

Watch your spending

Because of the current cash flow problems, Libyans have started to learn how to budget. People are having to wait for hours in front of banks to be able to withdraw a small amount of money. As a result households have reduced their spending and limited it just for the necessary needs.

Become an entrepreneur – open your own small business

Most Libyans in Libya work at government institutions and get paid by the state.The recent cash flow problems mean that the majority of the citizens has no access to cash. The ones who benefits are the entrepreneurs and small business owners. They deal in cash so they don’t need government’s paycheck.

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, interested in starting their own business. Some of the discussed issues were cash flow issues, trouble finding investors, problems associated with the legal system and copyright’s protection. Omnia talked about the necessity to create a healthy ecosystem for entrepreneurs in order to survive. One of the people who has been successful in creating an ecosystem of support is Nessrin Geddah, a Tripoli hub global shaper and 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.

Omniya Tiyari giving the lecture
Omniya Tiyari giving the lecture

The lecture was made possible due to local entrepreneurs 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 if we are facing difficulties we can’t give up hope.

This story is part of a series menac publishes in cooperation with Project Silphium.

The article was first published in Project Silphium.

Illustration by Basma sarraj 

You can also read: “Stories are told by survivors” 

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