Fayoum belongs to the Nile Valley and Delta eco-zone. Its boasts a rich environment that is often the subject of interest of nature conservationists. The presence of Lake Qarun and Wady El Rayyan has created a haven for rare birds such as Flamingos and Pelicans. This is of particular interest to avid bird watchers who flock to Fayoum to indulge their passion in this lush environment.

Fayoum is characterized by a number of high density under-developed villages. The rural peasant culture of its residents is pervasive and is mostly conservative. Markaz works with female artisans in Fayoum who receive initial capital and learn how to buy the raw materials necessary for the production of their local crafts. Ultimately, the women utilize this capital to make local crafts that are then sold to the general public. Not only have the women been able to return the initial capital investment, they are also able to generate sufficient income to meet their needs and beyond.

Specifically, Markaz works in Aboxa in Fayoum with a local NGO which assists in the development “makrameyya” crafts with the aim of generating income for low income families. Markaz also works directly with an Egyptian social entrepreneur with long standing ties with the local community in Fayoum. She leads a group of 30 women and is assisted by 3 other female leaders.

The local residents of Fayoum can boast their mastery of two distinct and unique crafts. The first such craft is that of the “makrameyya” which entails the use of string to produce intricate knots and designs. The second such craft, and one that is directly linked to Fayoum’s eco-zone is the use of different parts of the palm tree to create various useful products.