For projects by UN, international and regional organizations.
Combating and Alleviating Poverty in Community through the Provision of Training and Micro-credit.
The Winning Project:
MICROENTERPRISE PROGRAMME, GAZA.
(Selected winner from 34 projects). www.un.org/unrwa
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Gaza.
The Project is a programme for financing small projects run by refugee and non-refugee Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank. The Project aimed at advancing small loans to men and women who needed capital for the small businesses they were implementing and managing, in order to alleviate and limit the bounds of poverty, create employment opportunities and raise the living standard of people in the region by increasing per capita income and stimulating the economic role of women. The Project aimed, as well, at activating the role of Palestinians in general, building their own institutional capacity and integrating them in the economic cycle of the region.
The main features of the project may be summarized as follows:
Extend individual personal loans to men running their own small businesses, where the required loan is extended to the applicant up to the permissible ceiling. The person becomes entitled to a bigger loan if he honours his obligations and pays his installments as they fall due.
Extend loans to groups of women known as “Joint Liability Groups”. These groups consist of women who apply for loans and each member of the group guarantees other members. No new loans are given to any of these women until they all have met their obligations by repayment of the previous loans.
Train the borrowers how to manage their loans.
The project is considered to be a pioneering one as it succeeded in stimulating the economic role of women and men and in combating poverty among the poorest strata in the Gaza community through its lending activities. It is worth mentioning that it is one of the early projects in Middle East and North Africa that achieved self-sufficiency, both operationally and financially.
Under this project, since its beginning in 1994 till April 1999, more than 18,000 loans were advanced. More than 12,000 persons, of whom 56% were women, benefited from this project. Besides these principal beneficiaries, more than 75,000 persons benefited indirectly from these loans by working for the owners of these projects.
Under this project, loans were also advanced to 6,000 Palestinian workers who were working outside Gaza, but were no longer able to do so for political reasons. Besides, more than 4,000 women benefited from this project and received 10,000 loans through joint liability groups.
Poverty rate in the Gaza Strip region is 38%, whereas it reaches 48% in refugee camps. With the lack of employment opportunities and the dearth of income sources, inhabitants of the Gaza Strip have no alternative but to turn to small private businesses (as peddlers, open-air small shopkeepers, etc) to augment the income of their families. Therefore, this project is regarded as one of the most important achievements of the UNRWA, which managed – in such a weak economic environment – to extend through this micro-credit programme assistance to 7.5% of the population. The importance of this Project lies in the fact that it has become a main source for increasing an individual’s income in this community.