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March 23, 1990 - Image 37

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I BUSINESS I

rya

Funding The Future:
West Bank And Gaza

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38

FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 1990

photographic

471.4446

the leading expert on Palesti-
nian industry.
Awartani says that
regardless of the political
future of the two territories
under Israeli control, local
employment opportunities
and the West Bank and Gaza
industrial capacities must be
expanded.
He points out that nine per-
cent of the residents of these
areas (27,000) are
unemployed out of a labor
force of 300,000. An addi-
tional 15,000 workers are
added each year and more
than 100,000 are employed in
Israel. Where in the past
employment in the Gulf
States was available, today
these countries are experien-
cing budget deficits and have
been forced to fire many of
their foreign workers.
Awartani reveals that since
1967 a dramatic socio-
economic transformation of
income distribution amongst
the Palestinians took place.
The middle class grew at the

ith almost no in-
ternal commercial
credit infrastruc-
ture, raising money for West
Bank and Gaza-based
business ventures is difficult.
Now, with a $400,000 grant
from the Canadian govern-
ment and the European
Economic Community, the
first venture capital fund for
Palestinian industry has been
established.
Based in East Jerusalem,
The Economic Development
Group (EDG) was founded in
1986 to promote economic
development in the West
Bank and Gaza. Its charter
calls for the fostering of an en-
trepreneurial spirit in the
Palestinian community and
to create employment oppor-
tunities for university
graduates and women.
The fund provides loans
ranging from $1,000 to
$30,000 (the average is
$10,000) to entrepreneurs
with good ideas. Rather than
Unlike a typical
take equity positions in com-
venture capital
panies, EDG operates solely
on a loan basis. It also serves
pool, EDG has
as a liaison between en-
certain political
trepreneurs and investors.
aims: To support
Like a venture capitalist in
the West, EDG acts as a con-
the development
sultant, offering the expertise
of business that
of its board of directors to
produce
start-up companies. It
assesses the business poten-
commodities to
tial of ideas and helps the en-
promote
trepreneur to determine
self-reliance.
market potential and existing
competition.
Thus far, EDG-funded
business ventures include a
expense of both ends of the
grinding wheel manufacturer,
spectrum creating more
a banana ripening operation,
storeowners and daily
a dental laboratory, a bakery,
laborers.
and machinery which dries
"One of the major fears
vegetables using solar energy.
Palestinians have is of a
Unlike a typical venture
change in this trend. It has
capital pool, EDG has certain
become our "experience" and
political aims: To support the
we don't want our society re-
development of business that
shaped by other Arab "socio-
produce commodities to pro-
economic models," Awartani
mote self-reliance. In addition
said. "The induction of labor
to the aim of creating new
in Israel and the reduction of
businesses and jobs, its
the bureaucratic class in Jor-
charter says that through
dan created a more equitable
these new ventures, "the
wage structure. In one stroke
Palestinian community will
40 percent of the low income
reduce their economic
stratum rose a notch on the
dependence on Israel." Its pro-
socio-economic ladder. This
spectus states it will not ac-
created a much more stable
cept funds from any
population, less prone to
organization or country
socio-economic unrest."
which doesn't agree with the
Awartani cautions any
goals and objectives as defin-
future Palestinian leadership
ed by EDG. The national
on tampering with these
rights of the Palestinians is
trends.
one example.
To continue this process,
Awartani helped to establish
EDG is headed by Hisham
EDG's fund. The ultimate
Awartani, an economist and

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