Launched in 2001 in response to a request by the Palestinian Authority, this project sought to contribute to creating an enabling environment for a private sector-led growth in the occupied Palestinian territory, and generating new job opportunities for its growing labour force.
The programme involved institutionalizing UNCTAD´s Integrated Capacity-Building Programme for Promoting Enterprise Development "Empretec
", which focuses on strengthening national institutional capacities and structures for providing continuous support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
With funds initially from the Italian Government, supplemented by funding from the International Labor Organization (ILO), progress to date has involved the establishment of a core national training and support capacity for servicing West Bank-based SMEs. Despite the adverse political and economic conditions, Empretec-Palestineachieved important milestones in delivering its mission:
- The creation of a small community of 123 Palestinian Empretecos, 16 percent of whom are women.
- 10 Empretec companies in starting their own businesses and another 13 in expanding or reopening existing operations. Of these, three succeeded in obtaining bank loans.
- Effective response to Palestinian entrepreneurs´ business development needs. Participants emphasized achieving personal empowerment, and indicated that the programme helped them formulate clear business plans for improving performance or starting their own businesses.
- The establishment of an informal reference system to guide Empretecos to relevant market support institutions and donor funded programmes.
However, capitalizing on these achievements is hampered by recurrent resource shortfalls, which has caused repeated suspension of project implementation.
Planned activities have been put on hold since mid-2006, especially phase II, which involves bolstering the programme´s institutional capacity in the West Bank and establishing a second office and service structure in the Gaza Strip.