USAID supports the only small business with photography services in a city with a population of over 16,000 and an additional 20,000 refugees residing in the Azraq camp.
One man, one camera and a few odd jobs including taking mugshots of criminals after their arrest at the police station. “When you are the only photographer in town, oddball jobs are just inevitable sometimes if you want to get any type of work” says Thamer Abu Tayeh, one of the few photographers in Azraq, a small desert town in central-eastern Jordan.
If you pass by Azraq, one of the country’s most economically disadvantaged areas, you cannot help but notice a small, funky photography studio standing out amidst gnarled palm trees and low desert shrubs. It all started when owner Thamer Abu Tayeh discovered his passion for photography and cameras growing up. “Photography was my world. I still remember the rush I felt when going to the store to get the negatives developed after taking countless pictures with the film camera we had at home”.
After pursuing a degree in photography from the only Jordanian university that offered it at the time, Thamer rented a modest studio in Azraq from a friend, which allowed him to practice his profession formally. However, rent was high and Thamer could barely afford to buy a camera and a few other important items to help him do his job. With a family to support in a poverty-stricken town, Thamer was struggling with limited finances. In 2014, he found out that the USAID Local Enterprise Support Project was offering grants to support micro and small businesses across the kingdom, and decided to apply. The grant helped him renovate his studio and upgrade his equipment.
Apart from photography studios, Azraq is very underserved when it comes to copy and print services, especially with the great influx of the Syrian refugees in the Azraq refugee camp that need to formalize their asylum applications; a problem that Thamer had been aware of for a while before applying for the grant. This made it necessary for him to purchase a photocopy machine and a few other important equipment to help solve this problem and make life a little easier for the people of Azraq.
Abu Tayeh hopes to recruit a female employee, now that business is slowly picking up and he has the financial capability to do so. “The help I received from USAID LENS has had a positive impact on my business and my personal life in ways that I could not have imagined. My studio has everything that I need and I finally have a comfortable working environment that I look forward to working in every day” Thamer says, happy and optimistic for the future of his business.
14 August 2016 - Thamer Abu Tayeh proudly standing in his new photography studio in the city of Azraq