How Palestinian businesses in Gaza revived after COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the world, including the world’s largest economies, to the core, with serious and far-reaching consequences.

However, the effects are especially devastating for the Palestinian territories and, in particular, for the Gaza Strip.

With an economy already on the brink of collapse, declining purchasing power and Israeli restrictions on border crossings, economic activity in Gaza was already fragile, economist Mohammed Abujayyab told The Media Line, noting that “the arrival of COVID- Furthermore, the existing situation has worsened ”. catastrophic situation “.

“Small businesses and micro-projects, which make up 90% of the components of economic work in Gaza, are direct victims of anti-pandemic measures, including long and strict closures, as many of them collapsed and left the market,” he said.

Business owners and merchants looked for practical and alternative solutions to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and save their companies.

The tunnels were not under empty fields, but apartment buildings and houses. In the photo: Gaza City (credit: REUTERS)

“E-commerce and online marketing have increased economic activity by 40%. This is indicated by the volume of imports from e-shops outside the Palestinian territories, ”said Gaza-based Abujayyab.

“In addition, digital marketing has activated the transformation process in Gaza from traditional commerce to online commerce, creating the opportunity for new businesses, such as delivery services, to flourish,” he added.

The increasing use of social media to promote products has eased the burden of operating costs for small entrepreneurs, who are barely keeping their heads above water in light of tough economic conditions, Abujayyab said.

Hiba al-Nakhala, her father and brother have run a carpentry business in Gaza City called Antica Home since 2018. By recycling scrap wood, Nakhala and her family make remarkable art pieces, antique-style furniture, and gifts.

“Our business has prospered significantly since we worked on our marketing strategies, such as participating in exhibitions and developing our online presence on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. I personally worked on my marketing skills and learned what type of ads are tailored to our products and target audience, which positively reflects on our sales, ”he told The Media Line.

Nakhala believes that the mindset of Gazans has changed since the pandemic. “It seems that they are now more confident in online trading and more willing to start their own businesses virtually,” he said.

Luna Alagha, another successful entrepreneur, is a mother who used her experience to start a business growing rare ornamental plants and flowers in her small nursery and then creatively marketing them with artistic packaging and accessories.

Surprisingly, Alagha succeeded in creating a new type of agricultural soil containing palm fiber, which is widely available in the coastal enclave, instead of the scarce coconut and algae fiber that is commonly used. She makes her own compost, designs her plant accessories, and actively runs her Instagram and Facebook pages.

“The crown [pandemic] It convinced me that without digital marketing, I will never be able to move forward and progress, especially since the area where my nursery is located is not dynamic and its people are not familiar with ornamental plants, ”he told The Media Line.

After hiring a well-known company in Gaza City, Alagha is preparing to open its own planting corner exhibition in the next two months.

“Soon there will be a lot of work to present the plants in a beautiful and modern style, new collaborations with wood craftsmen will be considered and more marketing efforts will be made to maintain maximum customer satisfaction,” he said.

“A fragmented approach to the current political, economic and security challenges in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) only risks perpetuating an ongoing crisis,” according to a UN report released earlier this month calling for a coordinated response. and integrated to address the growing Palestinian crisis. precarious situation.

Walaa Mousa is a talented toy maker and accessory designer, and a brilliant tailor who makes embroidered artwork and displays it on her Facebook page in hopes of generating income.

“Without a doubt, social networks have increased the number of people who know my work and sometimes buy it, but there are still great challenges, mainly financial, that I face to take my work to the next level,” he told The Media Line.

“Due to financial difficulties, I cannot afford the necessary advertisements or buy the high-quality materials that I need in my work. This is derailing my progress and therefore reducing my income, ”said Mousa.

For nearly 15 years, Gazans have been experiencing a serious human rights crisis due to the ongoing blockade by Israel and Egypt, affecting almost every aspect of life, in addition to the devastating internal divide between Gaza and the West Bank that it has further undermined the Palestinian social and political fabric.

The situation will become more difficult if things do not change, according to Abujayyab. To overcome the crisis, “several steps must be taken,” he said.

“First, restore Palestinian unity at all levels, including at the policy level. Then comes support for economic development and improvement of living conditions for Palestinian citizens, ”he continued.

“This will lead us to the most important movement, which is to demand an end to the Israeli measures imposed on the Gaza economy, such as suffocating industrial companies and factories by preventing them from developing their production lines, stopping the export of their products and banning the import of essential raw materials, ”he said.

“Israel’s control of the crossings and its practice of political and financial extortion against the coastal enclave is a severe violation of Palestinian rights that must end,” Abujayyab said.

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