AVPE has generated over a dozen projects building bridges between American and Palestinian business people.
Bethlehem artisans forge pathway to U.S. markets
Bethlehem and the surrounding villages are dot-ted with small workshops where artisans craft unique olive wood icons, arabesque-painted ceramic dishes and a variety of embroidered clothing and home decor products.
Working alone, and facing restrictions on movement, difficult transport, lack of capital, and other challenges of living under military occupation, most of these artisans would find it difficult to eke out a living from their products.
But Bethlehem Fair Trade Artisans (BFTA), an umbrella non-profit organization, has found a way out of the closed-off West Bank for its producers. Using AVPE’s services, it has forged a path for Palestinian goods into the homes and offices of the vast U.S. market. And for these craftspeople, every sale is a lift up—out of poverty and into opportunity.
“BFTA planned a promotional trip to the U.S. with the goal of meeting great new clients,” says BFTA Executive Director Suzan Sahori. “When I landed in NYC and began my mission by attending the B2B Trade Fair in Dallas, the disappointing outcomes made me very pessimistic. BFTA only received small orders.” The organization could not stand out in the fray, and Sahori feared that the costly trip had been a waste.
It was only after the fair, when AVPE set up face-to-face meetings for Sahori with 13 different fair trade partners across the U.S., that she saw the possibilities for her organization and the crafts-people it represents.
“I met the most wonderful people,” says Sahori today, “kind and hospitable, especially with the support of Layla Kaiksow, who arranged days full of different meetings in different cities. Without her dedication, I would have been lost.”
The results were even better: six new American customers and a partner to assist BFTA with storage and distribution of its handicrafts in the U.S.
Working together, BFTA and AVPE have been able to magnify the reach of the small enterprises that characterize the handicrafts industry, helping them gain a foothold in an export market. And bigger, better markets means more Palestinian families with food on the table.
“AVPE’s vision is really great, even though it may be difficult to implement. AVPE’s team works hard to meet their objectives and achieve success stories in both the U.S. and Palestine. As a result of our cooperation, my company was able to reach a client interested in our Palestinian olive oil.”
"Many thanks to Ms. Kaiksow and AVPE.”
“I was introduced to AVPE by Nisreen Musleh while brainstorming ideas for my new company. I was not yet ready to benefit from AVPE’s services, however, Reema AbuShaheen (AVPE’s Palestine Operations Officer) still worked hard to help me find the right resources. Reema was just amazing! She introduced me to another program that was exactly […]
"Working with AVPE added great value to AAF and the services we were able to offer our youth participants. We are excited to continue building this cooperation.”
"Every member of the [AVPE] staff has bent over backward to help my small business succeed, and their efforts had a tangible impact.”
“AVPE has opened product sourcing opportunities for us that previously seemed inaccessible. In 2016, I launched a new business—mebl | Transforming Furniture—the centerpiece of which is a global representation of beautiful furniture handcrafted from reclaimed wood and metal. We are trying to promote greater sustainability in the furniture industry. My colleagues and I had been […]