Restoring Livelihoods – Supporting Small Businesses in Gaza
During 10-21 May 2021, there was an intensive Israeli military assault on Gaza. According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), up to 27 May, 256 Palestinians, including 66 children and 40 women were killed.
Almost 2,000 Palestinians were injured, including over 600 children and 400 women, many of whom sustained severe injury. At the height of the escalation, 113,000 displaced people sought shelter and protection in schools and hosting communities.
According to local authorities, over 2,000 housing units were totally destroyed or severely damaged. An estimated 15,000 housing units sustained some degree of damage, as did multiple water & sanitation facilities and infrastructure, 58 education facilities, nine hospitals and 19 primary healthcare centres.
In addition, 442 small businesses were damaged as a result of Israeli military attacks on Gaza, resulting in thousands of people losing their jobs and their source of regular income. Of these job losses, 24% were services provision companies – mainly employing youth. In the months that followed, Welfare Association conducted a rapid assessment of the Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that suffered damages, and worked to prioritise nine small businesses; to help them to replace damaged or destroyed equipment and support their return to work. The programme team completed a mapping exercise of all affected SMEs, in which service-provision SMEs were prioritized. A total of 41 SMEs were found to be eligible and were subject to further assessment, with 10 SMEs finally prioritised (an additional business was able to be supported thanks to budgetary savings). Seven SMEs were located in the Gaza Governorate while the remaining three were located in North Gaza Governorate.
The factory owner said:
“Our economic situation was good before the war. We had regular work, and we were well-staffed. When we first saw the destruction of the workshop, everyone was very upset because it supported 90 people. The workshop is now back to full production capacity with the same number of staff. The economic activities are fully up and running. I bought additional materials with the income generated. We didn't think this could happen any time soon.”
An example of one of the businesses that returned to work is a sewing workshop.
In 2015 this workshop owner, who has worked as a sewing machinist for 30 years, received a grant from the Red Cross to open his small workshop; purchasing sewing machines and hiring a number of workers. The workshop gradually expanded as it used the income generated to purchase new machinery and tools.
Prior to May 2021, a total of 19 men and women worked in this factory, sewing clothing and selling in bulk to a number of stores in Gaza. The factory supported approximately 90 people in total.
The workshop, had three rooms inside a building that was severely damaged during May 2021. The Israeli military’s aerial bombardment knocked down a five-story building next door, this caused severe damage to the workshop and much of its equipment. As a result, the workshop stopped work completely for over 3 months. Then work began to return partially, at 20% of the previous production. The destruction of some specialized machines led to a higher cost of production, as the clothes had to be sent to other workshops for completion before being distributed for sale. The grant in this project enabled the replacement of some essential damaged equipment (sewing, ironing, vacuum, and pressing machines), in addition to supplying materials such as fabric, zippers, and threads. As a result, the factory regained 100% of its production capacity and rehired its original number of workers.
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