Mozna’s date business in Gaza a successful case study
In Gaza, Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA has been working towards increasing production and improving working conditions for women owned businesses. Through the Ghalleh Project, Mozna was supported to invest in equipment and has since increased her productivity and her date business is booming.
Mozna Al Qedra is a 32-year-old woman with four children from Deir al Balah in the Gaza Strip. Despite graduating from university, Mozna could not find a job. The difficult economic situation meant that her entire family relied on her husband’s salary. For the past five years Mozna has worked during the date harvest to make ajwa– dried date paste on her family farm. Each harvest Mozna employs her three sisters-in-law and other women from the village to peel and dry the dates while her husband does the pressing and packaging before selling the processed dates to merchants. The date season lasts for 20 days and is the only work the women have for the whole year.
Above: Mozna sorting dates in preparation to make date paste
Investing in tools and technology gives women business owners a boost
Through the Ghalleh Project, Mozna was supported to invest in tools and equipment to increase her productivity. The drying technology enabled her to dry the dates in one day instead of 5 days, increasing production from 160-180 kg to 1,500 kg per day. This led to an increase in annual income from NIS 4,000 (AUD$1,688) to NIS 20,500 (AUD$8,650). The extra production enabled her to increase the number of working days for the other women meaning she could employ them full-time during the harvest period.
Mozna was also able to provide work opportunities for her relatives and neighbours who now see her as a role model, telling her they want to open their own businesses like hers in the future.
With the increased income Mozna can cover all the basic needs of her family including clothes for the children. She said this makes her feel relaxed and confident about the future.
“After receiving the equipment, we started producing huge quantities of Ajwa (dates), we have more workers, as well as more income. Through the income, we furnished our place and built an extra room. Now we have more customers in the market and more dealers do business with us”. – Mozna’s husband
The equipment improved the working environment and the physical health of the women. Whereas in the past the women sat on the floor, now they have chairs and sort the dates on a raised platform. This has reduced back pain for all the workers.
Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA and its partner organisations MA’AN Development Centre and the Palestinian Businesswomen’s Association – ASALA are supporting twenty women owned home-based processing units of ajwa to increase production and improve working conditions.
Above: Mozna and her employees sorting, peeling and pitting dates in preparation to make date paste
The Ghalleh Project: Producing for Profit: Enhancing the long term profitability of small-scale Palestinian farmers and producers, is implemented by Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA and its partner organisations the Bethlehem University – Institute for Community Partnership, the Palestinian Businesswomen’s Association (ASALA), and the MA’AN Development Center.