By Libya Herald reporter.
Benghazi, 24 February 2017:
“Second time lucky” appears to be the guiding principle of a Benghazi café for families and women that was forced to close when fighting broke out in Benghazi nearly three years ago, and which has just reopened at a new home in Hawari
Business at the Elysée coffee shop is booming says owner Yasmin Sharif.
Trained as a journalist at what was then Garyounis University, she herself is very much testimony to Libyans’ innate entrepreneurial skills. She originally started the business in the Garyounis district in 2013, working in a small kitchen and mainly providing catering for weddings and other events. But then she had to resort to orders via Facebook in 2015 when fighting wrecked the area.
Two years on and a move across town, her new Elysée is deluged by orders and customers alike. After the long hibernation when it was too dangerous to go out, Benghazinos are determined to enjoy themselves now that most of the city is liberated and peaceful. Many are making a beeline for the colourful café which caters specifically to women and families. Single men or groups of males are not encouraged.
In its own way, Elysee is a powerful example of new businesses popping up in the city as it seeks to reenergise itself following years of conflict and gloom. And it is bringing jobs too.
Such is the turnover that it now employs around a dozen staff – men as well as women.
And, despite the eastern authorities’ current disdain for women’s rights, it is not the only business in the city run by a women. Enterprises owned by women are starting to enjoy something of a vogue in the city.