ACCESS TO MARKETS
In addition to the cultural, legal, and psychosocial impediments the Palestinian women face, self-employed women and women cooperatives face high levels of informality, unqualified cooperative work, low productivity and high production cost, lack of access to knowledge and skills, limited innovation capacity, inadequate infrastructure for competitiveness and trade, volatility vulnerability, lack of reliable market information, lack of market access, volatile rule of law, and high transaction costs. The capacity building interventions of Asala will only have limited effect as long as these issues are not addressed.
To address these issues Asala works on several projects to ensure women’s sustainable access to local and, in some cases, global markets. Asala established Business Clubs where women entrepreneurs meet with women who seek to start small businesses. The responsibilities of the Business Clubs include providing a suitable venue and environment that enable women to meet and exchange expertise, discuss business, purchase goods at wholesale prices, and obtain support from qualified women. The Business Clubs also train women entrepreneurs at their places of residence, and, in some cases, have formalized their structure to work as cooperatives. Asala works closely with these Business Clubs and women’s cooperatives to provide counseling and advice on opportunities for marketing channels. Asala often hosts its own exhibitions and, due to its close partnerships with organizations throughout Palestine, is asked to invite its women beneficiaries to participate in their events. Asala also encourages women to participate in local exhibitions, where local products are a focus, and coaches them on understanding the value chain, pricing, and marketing techniques.
Additionally, Asala established a partnership with New Farm Company, an ISO 22000 and FairTrade certified company, to provide higher-level quality control trainings to women cooperatives. New Farm not only trains women, but helps them identify the most feasible products to focus on and often contracts with these cooperatives to purchase and sell large quantities in local and global markets.