Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza face significant economic challenges. Regional barriers have restricted mobility and limited access to jobs, markets and capital. Currently, 18% of Palestinians in the West Bank are unemployed and an estimated 25% of households in the West Bank are below the poverty line. Only 26% of micro and small enterprises are owned by women, and the majority of these exist in the informal economy. Palestinian women possess the desire to expand their businesses but due to their remote location, restricted mobility and socio-cultural barriers, they lack the opportunities to access tailored business training, markets and capital.
Building on the success of the Nablus Women Entrepreneurs project, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women partnered with the Near East Foundation (NEF) in February 2014 on an initiative to empower Palestinian women entrepreneurs to grow profitable and sustainable businesses that are market-oriented, scalable and capable of facilitating job creation. Through this project we reached 217 women entrepreneurs living in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron with support to scale up their small businesses over three years. As a result, the women have created 97 new jobs, both full-time and part-time roles. In addition 23 women have formally registered their enterprises and 42 have boosted their revenue by an average of 145%.
Following the success of this project and our Middle East Women Entrepreneurs project, we scaled up this work in the second phase to reach an additional 45 Palestinian women. We are working with Tomorrow’s Youth Organization (TYO) to support the women to grow their businesses through enterprise development training, business coaching, incubation services and access to financial services.
‘This unique initiative is working with Palestinian women who have the desire to grow their existing businesses, facilitating job creation and spurring economic growth in the West Bank.’
– Annabel Azim, Enterprise Development Programme Director
Founded in 1915, the Near East Foundation (NEF) has helped the most vulnerable communities in the Middle East and Africa improve their conditions in the face of chronic poverty, conflict, migration and environmental hazards for almost a century, working with local communities on projects ranging from beekeeping to microenterprise. NEF has helped thousands of Palestinian women establish small businesses, increase their productivity and income, and gain access to new markets through their philosophy of working through “Knowledge, Voice, and Enterprise”.
Tomorrow’s Youth Organization is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that works in disadvantaged areas of the Middle East, enabling children, youth and parents to realise their potential as healthy, active and responsible family and community members.
Oak Foundation is a group of philanthropic organisations which, since its establishment in 1998, has given more than 2,700 grants to not-for-profit organisations around the world. Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.
Active since 2007, the Trafigura Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Trafigura Group, one of the world’s leading commodities trading and logistics companies, and has granted a total of 32 million USD, as of the end of 2013, across 28 countries. It sponsors partner organisations in carrying out and strengthening programmes in three areas of focus: sustainable development, education & integration, and health.
One of the key ambitions of the Trafigura Foundation is to create the right conditions to help communities develop and grow into self-sufficiency. Together with partners, such as the Cherie Blair Foundation, they co-create programmes that, over time, enable beneficiaries to take full ownership of these solutions and attain lasting economic and social wellbeing.