AVPE was founded in 2014 by Ed Thompson and Sam Bahour, who learned to know each other when Ed traveled to Palestine with Eyewitness Palestine; Sam was one of the featured speakers. Sam’s subsequent speaking tour in Chicago deepened their relationship. Both men saw the need to build bridges between American and Palestinian businesses—as a way to support Palestine, and a challenge to often-negative political interactions. Enlisting a board of professionals, Sam and Ed envisioned a volunteer non-profit organization that would connect businesses across the world.
Today, the organization has transformed and expanded, with paid staff carrying out its important work in both countries. AVPE also cultivates a network of business people in the U.S. and Palestine who offer voluntary and paid advice and expertise.