It is with tremendous satisfaction that I address you by way of AVPE’s first annual report. This report represents our starting point and our start-up growing pains as much as it reflects a solid foundation that has been established to carry on our work for many years to come. When I was first approached back in the fall of 2013 by AVPE’s initiator, and now my co-founder, partner, and most importantly my trusted friend, Ed Thompson, after I completed a five state speaking tour focused on Palestine’s political economy, I could not have imagined the progress we have made. In a few short years, we established a new non-profit organization in Illinois, assembled a world-class board of directors who have since met twice in Palestine, secured our 501(c)(3) IRS tax-deductible status, and most importantly, scoped out and are working with over 20 Palestinian firms interested in building business relationships with Americans.
AVPE is unique in that we straddle the Atlantic Ocean with board members volunteering their time and effort both in Palestine and the United States. Every one of our board members brings a wealth of business knowledge and a deep passion for promoting Palestine’s business community for the sake of laying the building blocks required to survive under Israeli military occupation and to economically thrive once the occupation ends. Around every AVPE board table we have a healthy mix of expertise coming from all walks of life, from the private sector, church community, academia, human rights experts and activists.
The Palestinian firms that have approached us asking for our assistance are from a wide range of economic sectors. We do not claim to be experts in any sector, but we do believe that through our board expertise and business networks, we have the ability to identify American business interests, be they individuals or organizations, that could consider entering a business relationship with a Palestinian firm or provide the Palestinian businesses with much needed insights about the particularities of U.S. market.
Working directly at the firm level, what we call the transactional level, we feel that AVPE fills a much needed gap in Palestine’s approach to the U.S. market. Not only is the U.S. far in distance, but the language barrier, cultural considerations, and sheer size of the U.S. market requires individual firm leaders to be supported in the most firm-specific manner possible. General awareness and capacity building programs that many donor-driven efforts provide are welcomed, but ultimately a business owner must make the personal decision and commitment to enter the U.S. market and when they do so, AVPE is here to assist where possible.
AVPE also prides itself on the fact that we have an excellent working relationship with other businessrelated entries in the marketplace. Among them are the Palestinian Investment Promotion Agency (PIPA), the Palestine Trade Center (PALTRADE), the Palestinian Information Technology Association of Companies (PITA), and The Palestinian American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham-Palestine), just to name a few. We would not have come this far or have been able to plan forward if it were not for the generous support of our original seed funders from the Palestinian private sector, support I am personally very proud of since so many others only offer encouraging talk. Allow me to name them: the Bank of Palestine (BOP), PADICO Holding (PADICO), the Palestine Development Foundation, a subsidiary of the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF), and the Paltel Group (PALTEL). Additionally, scores more of donors responded to our call for support during our social fundraising campaigns. To each and every donor who provided financial assistance and to every volunteer who have offered their time and efforts, we are grateful and appreciate your generosity. We welcome all comments and feedback on this report and our work. Likewise, my door in Ramallah and Ed’s door in Chicago remain open to meet anyone interested in joining our effort. Together we will contribute to ending the nightmare of prolonged military occupation and replace it with a reality that brings peace and prosperity to all involved.