May 18, 2012
The DAI-led Facility for New Market Development project (FNMD) in Palestine came to a close this week with numerous successes to its credit. Since 2008, the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID)-funded program has assisted 600 Palestinian companies in a wide range of sectors, generating more than $100 million in attributable sales and exports, and providing 3,400 new permanent jobs to unemployed Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Helen Winterton, the head of DFID in Jerusalem, said of the agency’s flagship economic growth project: “I am delighted with the impact that FNMD has delivered over the past four years. And I strongly believe that Palestinian companies can deliver quality products and services that can compete globally.”
The project, which was created to enhance the competitiveness of Palestinian businesses in the global marketplace, was co-sponsored by The World Bank and implemented in partnership with the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy. Over the past four years, FNMD has assisted more than 600 small- and medium-sized companies through matching grants and technical assistance to develop new products and to enter new local and international markets. Of the total number of companies helped, 76 are either owned or managed by women.
One of the project’s most successful graduates is Ashour Company, a knitwear firm based in Gaza. Ashour opened its doors in 1996 and by 2010 had annual sales of $1.8 million. Between 2010 and 2012, Ashour received assistance from FNMD to bolster its ability to access export markets. The project helped Ashour rebuild and maintain machinery that had been hobbled since 2007, providing a grant that allowed the firm to purchase modern software and train staff to improve the company’s product range and designs. The firm also established a new pricing system and upgraded packaging, labelling, and quality control standards.
The assistance proved its value this year when 2,000 garments from Ashour were exported to a U.K. retail outlet for sale alongside other international brands—the first export of textile goods from Gaza to the United Kingdom since 2007.
“While I am pleased that the U.K. has supported this important development for a Gazan business, it is my hope that we quickly reach a stage where there is no longer a need for such assistance, because sustained exports from Gaza will be the norm,” said U.K. Minister for International Development Alan Duncan. “Through trade, we can help Gaza rebuild its economy, providing opportunities for Gazans to pull themselves out of poverty.”
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