Small Business Development
The Small Business Development program provides unemployed Palestinian adults with business training, start-up resources and the confidence they need to start or expand their own business.
A Snapshot of Unemployment in Gaza
Unemployment across the Occupied Palestinian Territories remains significant, hovering at just under 26% in 2015. In Gaza, the male unemployment rate stands at 35.9%, while female unemployment is almost double this figure, at 59.6%. Occupation, siege and conflict have also kept youth unemployment stubbornly high, soaring over 60% at the end of 2014. According to the World Bank, this was the highest rate in the region.
UPA Small Business Development Program
Despite this bleak outlook, there is hope. Small business ownership has the power to preserve dignity and increase economic independence amidst uncertainty and conflict. Leading economic authorities also cite small and medium-sized enterprises as “the world’s most concentrated, booming and innovative engine for world trade and economic growth.” By providing start-up resources in the forms of interest-free loans or modest grants, UPA is promoting economic growth and addressing one of the most significant challenges young self-employed Palestinians note: the lack of sufficient financial resources to jumpstart their venture.
UPA provides more than grants and loans though. UPA offers training to groups of aspiring small business owners. These individuals then draft business proposals, putting some of this training into practice. From there, UPA awards the most promising proposals with start-up resources.
In 2015, UPA provided 60 unemployed young heads-of-household in Gaza with small business training. Of these, 30 participants with the most promising proposals were selected to receive an interest-free start-up loan and a vendor cart. Having fully repaid their loans, these new business owners are able to generate income to provide for their families.
In 2016, we expanded our focus to female heads of households in the Gaza Strip and are providing selected candidates with modest grants to use when purchasing necessary equipment or livestock to make their businesses thrive.
Snapshots of Success
Ahmed, 24 years old, was unemployed and depended on emergency relief from local NGOs to support himself, his wife and two children. After joining the Small Business Development program and receiving his cart, he said, “I have my own project now! I sell different products on my cart, which provides me with a sustainable income that I can use to support my family and pay my rent.”