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A social entreprise working on national and international projects to promote and preserve culinary traditions, rural heritage and the natural environment.
Tayeb holds several meanings in Arabic, including “good”, “tasty”, and, when talking to a person, “good-hearted”.
The large organization that now exists as Souk El Tayeb began in 2004, when Kamal Mouzawak established a farmers market to promote the growers and producers of our country’s food, and provide them with a regular platform through which to earn money from their products, while using it as a unique opportunity to bring together communities that had been fractured by 15 years of civil war.
Since its inception it has expanded into an innovative social enterprise with a diverse range of national and international projects, all working in different ways to develop and preserve culinary traditions, rural heritage, and the natural environment in Lebanon, to provide necessary support to the women, farmers, and local communities that sustain them, while encouraging peaceful, supportive, interfaith living. The land, the people, the history, the food, and local traditions in Lebanon are the foundations of Souk El Tayeb.
Doing Well And Doing Good
Souk el Tayeb is about doing “well” and doing “good. Until more recently, there has been an unfortunate divide in business, between income generation and profitability - “doing well” - and addressing social and environmental problems or vacuums - “doing good”. Today, however, there are a growing number and range of social entrepreneurs that are combining the best of both worlds; working rigorously, effectively and meaningfully, while being socially and economically mindful. In other words, they are “doing well, and doing good”. Our venture at Souk el Tayeb is an illustration of this principle.
By encouraging cross-community engagement, connecting consumers who value traditional, high quality, natural products to the producers who create them, and focusing on sustaining these practices with low environmental impact, we are not only helping to strengthen Lebanon as a community, we are ensuring farmers receive fair prices for their goods, while preserving centuries-old food traditions for future generations to enjoy.
The Souk El Tayeb family includes:
The Farmers’ Market, a daily showcase of producers and farmers with a large Saturday farmers’ market, Tawlet, restaurants where cooks from all over Lebanon tell their stories and traditions through their cuisine, Beit, guest homes highlighting regional traditions, Dekenet, the farmers’ store, promoting products from the farmers’ market and Tawlet kitchen, and Matbakh El Kell, born in aftermath of the August 4 Beirut port explosion to feed those in need.
We are proud of the growing ways in which we are able to offer assistance and support to the communities of Lebanon. Our Capacity Building Program (CBP) works in partnership with organizations including (but not limited to) the International Labour Organization (ILO), The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the Women’s Program Association (WPA), where we encourage entrepreneurship and small business development by offering beneficiaries the opportunity to gain theoretical and practical knowledge and skills from chefs and experts in all aspects of business. Aasha el Tayeb, "happy food for those in need" is a traveling kitchen that partners with NGOs providing the underprivileged groups and communities they support with dinner in a joyful, nurturing, and safe environment. Food & Feast are regional food festivals held throughout Lebanon and offer another way in which people are able to connect with the farmers and producers that feed them, while celebrating and preserving local heritage and food culture. Beits are passion projects, where we preserve and restore old Lebanese homes and buildings. They provide a means of employment for members of local communities, whether that be through contract work, as regular employees, or through the use of local furniture, decor, textiles, and art. We are not immune, however to the struggling situation of the country.
Our organization has shifted and responded to the needs of our country in several ways.
In 2020, we had to close several of our locations, in response to the deepening economic crisis, starting with Beit El Hamra and Tawlet Hamra, followed by Beit El Tawlet. Dekenet, the Farmer’s store, was launched to increase daily access to markets for Souk El Tayeb’s farmers and producers, in the wake of economic instability and the COVID crisis. Dekenet is well-stocked with mouneh like Labneh jars from producer Sawsan Chaaban, and dried herbs and flowers from producers Nada and Nabil Saber. Tawlet women cooks also contribute to the selection, so you can always find Kaak El Zeeb from Em Amer and rolled Waraa Enab from Georgina Bayeh in our freezer. We also expanded our delivery services, to ensure that customers’ favorite products are accessible daily. Continuing our commitment to doing well and doing good, Matbakh El Kell is the best illustration of this principle.
Matbakh El Kell is part of the Souk El Tayeb family, created as a not for profit organization. Matbakh El Kell was born out of the necessity to feed those in need in the aftermath of the August 4 Beirut port explosion. Matbakh El Kell provides nutritional and healthy meals and works hand in hand with several organizations, to identify beneficiaries and distribute those meals across the affected areas, therefore establishing a network of community care. Souk El Tayeb and Matbakh El Kell work in close collaboration with local partners, actors in the civil society and NGOs. Its financing is provided by fundraising activities, donations, grants and funds from local and foreign institutions and individuals. The project also has a social responsibility component through an additional initiative called ‘Cash For Work’ to provide temporary employment to 75 workers at a time, from vulnerable communities across Lebanon.
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