CINNAROLLS... The rolls that defied the rules.

Alia Mikati is a twenty-one years old Lebanese from Tripoli Al-Kobbeh studying Graphic Design. She lives with her family and has five sisters with whom she decided to launch the Cinnarolls project to counter the difficult situation they live in.


"It's often hard and badly seen for veiled women to find a job in our community, aside from the rising concern about sexual harassment," she explained. "Therefore, with my sisters and mother, we decided to start a business from home selling cinnamon rolls and other western sweets."


At that time, Alia enrolled with GIL, The Generation of Innovation Leaders, to develop her business further and prepare a suitable business plan. GIL is an entrepreneurship programme that trains and financially supports small startups; it is powered by UNICEF Lebanon and funded by the Kingdom of Netherlands. Alia’s ambition is to change the youth's perspective around starting a business from scratch. She wants to inspire them to stay in Lebanon and open new businesses to help the economy.


“I participated before in other programmes and received some modest funding, but GIL’s programme, unlike others, taught me a lot. I prepared a business plan, learned how to calculate my profits, and how to fix a selling price. Having a laid-out plan for the future of our business helped us to successfully develop it. We now have a location for our shop, and we bought new equipment, which hugely impacted our business.” She added.



Alia’s shop is located near cafes on a busy street in Tripoli filled with working men, where it is rare to find women passing by the area. During holidays, Ramadan in particular, it was very odd for them to see women working night shifts. But soon enough, people started noticing the shop, which encouraged women to visit the area more often. “We offered training and job opportunities at the shop for women who needed to support their families, and that is how we widened our circle. I consider this to be my biggest achievement,” she said proudly.


Alia plans to transform her takeaway shop into a café with a nice seating section. She already surrounded the shop with some planters to add a touch of greenery. She aims to perfect her product and considers it unique in Tripoli.  


“I make sure to reach as many people as possible. I also aim to participate in future entrepreneurship programmes. I strongly encourage youth to enroll with GIL and learn business basics. GIL did not only impact my life but the lives of everyone around me.”


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