Gaza Economic Resilience Program
Switzerland contributes to foster the resilience of the private sector in the Gaza Strip. This UNDP implemented multi-donor intervention aims to enhance the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises in sectors with potential to substitute low quality imports (food, garment, plastic, furniture) through investment support, upskilling of labor, and improved cooperation between business associations and local authorities. A more resilient private sector will generate jobs for youth and reduce the aid dependency in the Gaza Strip.
Occupied Palestinian Territory
Employment & economic development
- Research Organisation of South East
- United Nations Development Programme
Small and medium enterprises are the backbone of the Palestinian economy, comprising 98% of businesses. Due to the scarce resources of the public sector, Gaza’s private sector, especially SMEs, is the main potential source for employment, sustainable livelihoods, and resilience in Gaza. Private enterprises, however, face fundamental challenges due to the closure of the Strip since 2007, with strict import and export controls that affect the access of production inputs/raw materials for the industrial sector and access of goods for the retail/commercial sector. Limited access to technology and lack of investments are further restricted resulting in high production and operating costs and limited potential to expand production and conquer external markets. Yet, GS offers promising growth potentials as businesses are able and eager to invest if a market opportunity is presented, and a tech-savvy youth who can deploy technology for the modernization of business operations. Latest figures show an increase of industrial production and exports stimulated by the reduction of export restrictions from the IL side. In 2018, exports amounted for 2600 truckloads, in 2022 it reached 5770, an increase of around 122%. Out of which 41% to Israel, 58% to the West Bank, and only 1% was for international markets.
Unemployment in Gaza is among the highest in the world - 46.6% was recorded in the first quarter of 2022, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Overall, the young labour force is increasing by 4.5% per year, with most new entrants to the labour market – estimated at 42,000 annually – becoming rampantly unemployed.
|Economic opportunity for Gaza Strip citizens improved through enhancing private sector resilience, upskilling of workforce, and improving the business enabling environment.
- Unemployed youth, women, and PwD in Gaza who are not skilled enough to secure jobs;
- Gazan Private sector SMEs in sectors with potential to substitute low quality imports (food, garment, plastic, furniture);
- Workforce of Gazan SMEs in the targeted economic sectors;
- Private sector institutions and representative organizations in Gaza that work to enable private sector development and expansion.
Outcome 1) Increased employability of Gazans, especially youth, women, and PwD.
Outcome 2) Gaza SMEs are more competitive with increased integration of green solutions and more inclusive work environment.
Outcome 3) Improved business enabling environment in Gaza.
- Around 6,000 Individuals, especially youth, women, and PwD, received upskilling and feel more capable of finding job opportunities;
- Around 11,000 Youth, women, and PwD received short term job opportunities, 4,500 of which in the private sector;
- 1,600 new job opportunities created lasting 6 months after the end of project support;
- 400 people established their own business;
- 830 SMEs received support to access financial and technical services;
- SMEs reporting increased sales following received support;
- SMEs reporting decreased production cost as a result of received support;
- Business associations with increased capacities to support and provide services to SMEs;
- SMEs that indicate to benefit from the support and services provided by industrial networks and associations.
|Directorate/federal office responsible
Foreign academic and research organisation
United Nations Organization (UNO)
|Coordination with other projects and actors
- Youth TechStart Project in partnership with the World Bank, is providing assistance to the Gaza ICT private sector to enable them to become more competitive regionally, but also provide support and assistance to local Gaza SMEs to better utilize technology and digitalization in their operations.
- IED is also expanding the only commercial crossing into Gaza (Karem Abu Salem), which will help Gaza businesses import the needed raw material, some Israeli-approved equipment, and will help in any attempts to export to the West Bank.
- Bridges to Growth Project with UCAS and EPFL universities skilling people in new technologies through internships in private sector companies in Switzerland. Where graduates of this project, upon their return, would help Gaza SMEs grow their business, and possibly connect with Swiss businesses.
|Current phase Swiss budget CHF 4’015’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF 760’000