Youssef Sokhon © The Office of the European Union Representative (West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA)
|He’s an operations manager working at Zoom Bags, a small company located in Nablus in Palestine’s West Bank. To help tackle the coronavirus pandemic and relieve some of the strain on local healthcare workers, his team decided to switch factory production from school bags and soft toys to medical overalls and protective gear.|
With population density, living conditions and hygiene standards accelerating the virus spread in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, every little helps.
As part of its efforts to support and strengthen countries in its neighbourhood, the EU funded a business advice programme in the West Bank, run by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Zoom Bags received advice that helped them develop their production line, decrease manufacturing costs, and obtain international quality certification so that the factory can export its goods worldwide.
“The EU’s support allowed our business to blossom in the most difficult circumstances.”
Not just medical relief
Switching to producing medical protective equipment not only helped frontline healthcare workers, but also kept the business afloat.
Sewing staff at Zoom Bags © The Office of the European Union Representative (West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA)
As the company quickly adapted its business model to meet the new coronavirus reality, staff at Zoom Bags kept their jobs. Moreover, increased demand from the Palestinian market means that, since March 2020, the business has actually grown. 15 new sewing operators were hired from Nablus and the surrounding villages, which kept at least 100 families from falling into poverty during the crisis.
"We have kept the doors of our factory open for its 30 workers.”
Plans for the future
The future looks bright for Youssef and his colleagues at Zoom Bags. The success of their new production line means that, even after the pandemic is over, the team is still interested in manufacturing protective clothing. The business is still growing and has even begun exporting abroad.
The Zoom Bags team and the EU Representative (West Bank and Gaza strip, UNRWA) © The Office of the European Union Representative (West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA)