Amal Moqat, a 47-year-old mother from Gaza, who now owns her own plants nursery after her husband left her and the children. Through the DEEP programme she was able to sustain a living with her family. In the Photo, Amal is trimming the olive trees in her nursery. © UNDP/PAPP – Shareef Sarhan

“I woke up one day fifteen years ago finding myself and my eight children homeless! Literally homeless. People knocking on the door saying that my house was sold to them. I found no one beside me. My husband sold everything and travelled to Egypt. Suddenly I was the mother and the father of eight children.”

Amal Moqat, is a 47-year-old mother from Gaza and the sole breadwinner of her family. Amal was married and her husband used to own a plants nursery. His business was doing well until he lost a big contract and sold everything to other merchants. He left Gaza to Egypt escaping creditors and stayed there, leaving Amal behind struggling to sustain a dignified livelihood for her sons and daughters.

“I was and have always been a proud mother. I never asked for help from anyone although I received support from the people around me. One of my relatives even advised me to go to the Ministry of Social Development to register for a three months allowance given to  women headed households in need. After studying my case, they approved the request and I managed to raise my children with very little money but at least while keeping my dignity”.  

This was the beginning for Amal and the Palestinian Families Economic Empowerment Programme (DEEP). The programme is implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development with funds from the Islamic Development Bank. DEEP aims at improving the living conditions of poor and marginalized Palestinian families by supporting them technically and financially to start their own businesses.

“I applied for a grant from DEEP to revive my husband’s business since I was very familiar with how it is run. My children, who are now young men and women encouraged me to do so. They supported me in re-establishing the business at the house we were living in after our home was sold. I received USD 6,000 that changed my whole life,” Amal said. The money she received did not only change her life, but the life of her children as well. She never imagined to be able to provide them with education, but she did her best to ensure they received the best education. “Here we are now. With the income I generate from the nursery, four of my children have a university degree, including my son Ahmed who holds a degree in telecommunication engineering”.

Amal received support from her sons, especially Ahmed, who said “I am very proud of my mother. She was able to provide for us at a time when everyone left her behind. When I was at university, she was shy in saying that she sells plants. She tried to cover it up when talking to our friends, but we always told her that we were proud of everything she did for us. She is our angel and our protector. We also never tried to stop her from managing the business, because we know it was hers and she owns it. She is managing it very well and does her best to expand”.

Ahmed also benefited from DEEP by joining the WAMAD initiative, a project that links business owners with markets. It provides them with the necessary skills to expand their business. Ahmed was trained on branding and online marketing. He marketed his mother’s project through Facebook. He now works for a private company, applying the principles of the training he received.

The nursery has been operational since 2013, and the family is reaping its financial benefits. Amal wants to expand and build a bigger and modern space for her business. “During spring, the income is very good. Our profit is USD 400 per month, but during low season like winter, it is USD 100 per month. I dream of expanding the nursery to include more trees and plants to increase our income during winter. I am currently working on that,” she added.

“I was a sad and devastated mother, waiting for her monthly allowance. I am now a business owner, providing and educating my children. Five years ago, God granted me this blessing that changed my entire world”.

DEEP’s strategic direction on accessing economic opportunities, mobilizing unutilized assets, opening new job opportunities for youth and women in particular, facilitating the capacity of governmental and nongovernmental bodies, and its experience and knowledge, have been key determinants for graduating thousands of Palestinians out of poverty and dependence.

Highlights

  • 54% of Palestinians in Gaza are unemployed (70% youth, 78% women). 53% live in poverty.
  • The Palestinian Families Economic Empowerment Programme (DEEP) was established in 2009  and developed to become a pathfinder programme for economic empowerment and poverty eradication in the State of Palestine. It was developed and introduced in the context of a partnership among the Islamic Development Bank / Al-Aqsa Fund, the Palestinian Government and UNDP.
  • About 31,000 families (27% women, 73% men) have benefited from DEEP interventions.
  • About 16,000 microenterprises have been established in the last 12 years, the majority of them are still functioning.
  • 52,000 jobs have been created with a yearly revenue of about USD 280 million.
  • With DEEP’s support, economic empowerment is now an integral part of the National Social Protection Strategy and is no longer restricted to cash assistance.
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