Bank of Palestine organized a series of meetings on the development of various projects and businesses for businesswomen and women entrepreneurs from different economic sectors in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The workshops aimed to provide individual consultations by women business experts from the Netherlands in partnership with Professor Josette Dijkhuizen, for women entrepreneurs to enable them to develop their businesses in several fields including administrative, developmental and marketing.  

The Counselling and Guidance Program, which falls under the umbrella of Women4Women is implemented for the first time in Palestine. The program is primarily focused on providing individual consultations by seven Dutch experts in the fields of business management and development, to a group of business women and project owners from different parts of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The coordination of these meetings stems from a joint belief in the importance of empowering, supporting, building and promoting the capacities and capabilities of Palestinian women entrepreneurs.

The consultations were provided to approximately 75 women in the form of individual sessions held over a period of an entire week at the main headquarters of Bank of Palestine in the cities of Jenin, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and Gaza City. Women sat through two-hour sessions that addressed the issues they are confronted with and the many inquiries they have regarding their projects, and in return, the Dutch consultants provided them counselling and guidance necessary for the development of their businesses and overcoming current and future obstacles. It is important to mention that Women4Women is funded by the Dutch government and aims to build and develop an economy that is primarily based on women’s self-reliance and provide them the necessary guidance to manage their projects in the most ideal manner.

Professor Dijkhuizen stated that the program is a unique and unforgettable experience for both Dutch and Palestinian women. According to Dijkhuizen, “this experience was enhanced through the many meetings and experience and knowledge exchange in all things related to the world of business and projects, leading to the elimination of boundaries and strengthening relations in an unprecedented manner.” Dijkhuizen expressed her appreciation of all Palestinian women entrepreneurs, considering them leaders to all their counterparts in the field. “I look forward to similar encounters in the future,” added Dijkhuizen.

Mr. Rushdi Ghalayini, the General Director of Bank of Palestine, pointed out the bank’s strategy for building the capacities of businesswomen and business owners prior to providing them financial facilitations. According to Ghalayini, “the aim behind providing them credit facilitations is to contribute to the continuous development and success of their projects.” “We could not have achieved this without the efforts conducted by Bank of Palestine to empower women, enable them to manage their projects, introduce them to different methods, skills and management principles, and enable them to lead their projects on the road to success,” he added.

Ghalayini also pointed out that these meetings form part of the Felestineya Program, which is organized by the bank to empower women and encourage them to continuously contribute and participate in economic and social life side by side with men, as well as manage and develop economic projects that contribute to the creation of an inclusive society with equal economic participation. 

Individual session featured a description of the most important activities conducted within the project’s framework, as well as target groups and the distribution and marketing channels of products and services. They also featured a description of problems and challenges for which women need solutions and the right tools to overcome them. The special expertise of each consultant in the fields of management, information technology, entrepreneurship, psychology, social entrepreneurship and renewable concepts, contributed to changing the perceptions of participating women towards creative thinking and innovative solutions.

The sessions, discussions and information raised issues about the current economic and social situation, as well as the personal and professional challenges confronted by Palestinian businesswomen. The interventions provided by Palestinian women in this regard triggered the interest of consultants, who considered them worthy of being transferred to their networks in the Netherlands as experiences and success stories of Palestinian entrepreneurs in many fields, including handicrafts, education, agriculture and food production, who devoted their capacities and capabilities to confront obstacles and develop businesses that reflect their vision. 

The consultants expressed interest in returning to Palestine next year for a repeat experience with another group of Palestinian women. The effective interactions, constructive discussions and positive interventions provided by Palestinian women left a positive impression on the consultants. The Dutch team also expressed their appreciation of the new friendships established and their willingness to maintain continuous communication with these women.