MoreThanAJob highlights the importance of the effective practices in Social and Solidarity Economy in Palestine
MoreThanAJob partners in Palestine: the Nablus Chamber of Commerce & Industry and An-Najah National University organized a workshop titled “Effective Practices in the Field of Social Solidarity Economy towards a Consolidated Palestinian Community” on Tuesday, July 05, 2022.
The workshop brought together representatives from the main involving ministries and institutions, including; the Ministry of Labor (MoL), the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD), Tamkeen Programme affiliated to the MoSD, as well as practitioners, policy-makers and other stakeholders concerned with the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) in Palestine and a group of representatives from the public administration.
The two sub granted projects also attended with a number of their projects beneficiaries, besides representatives from various NGOs who work in the same field and serve similar objectives on top of them GIZ - PALM Project. The workshop was also attended by representatives and coordinators form the ENI CBC MED Programs counting; MedTOWN, MedRiSSE and CLUSTER projects that are an integral part of the social inclusion thematic objective of the Programme.
The main objective was to discuss the concept of Social and Solidarity Economy and its impact on employment policies in Palestine. Furthermore, the workshop aims at closely approaching the role of SSE and public administrations in the development and enhancement of these policies to foster job creation among vulnerable groups in Palestine.
Additionally, it aimed to enhance the understanding of practitioners, policy-makers and other stakeholders on the SSE in Palestine to contribute to its development there.
The workshop was opened by a welcoming speech by Dr. Imad Braik, EU-projects' coordinator who provides an adequate explanation on MoreThanAJob general objectives and the project flow. He also emphasizes the importance of the Social and Solidarity Economy concept, its reflection on employment and its role in the development of policies that are responsive to the needs of the target groups in the Palestinian labour market.
Dr. Samah Saleh, MoreThanAJob project’s representative at An-Najah University, who monitors and facilitates the workshop sessions, started the sessions with defining the project five best practices: Promotion of Social Generativity and enhancing social integration through community service interventions; Establishing and strengthening the capacity of social enterprises; Peer-to-peer counselling service to develop Solidarity Economy value chains; Support innovation and entrepreneurship; and eventually labour market integration through: skills matching and youth empowerment, education bridging programmes, language education, and the recognitions of competences acquired outside hosting country. Dr. Samah also highlighted the project chart flow that tracked the project implementation progress.
Then, the Civil Society of Nablus Governorate (CSNG) represented by its CEO Eng. Naseer Arafat and Partners for Sustainable Development (PSD) represented by its CEO Mr. Jawad Abo Own presented their own projects and their progress with testimonials of their beneficiaries. Number of testimonials was presented by the beneficiaries; in person and through a video.
After that, the floor was left for the attendees to give feedback on the presented projects and make interventions on the Social and Solidarity Economy concept. In this regard, Mr. Murad Moqady, the director of Tamkeen Programme at the MoSD expressed his gladness to witness such achievements highlighting the importance to establish the necessary networking with Tamkeen Programme which aims at reinforcing the vulnerable groups in their different categories. It is worth mentioning that Tamkeen Programme is an integral part of the social and solidarity economy programs that is affiliated to the ministry of social development. An expert in the field of empowerment exists to serve the most marginalized groups in the Palestinian community especially women who are in need of economic empowerment.
Mr. Moqady called for unifying the efforts to serve these women who had their own start-ups or have pioneering ideas and encouraged them to register and enroll in the reinforcement programs at the ministry. He also gave rise to the TVET Programs that supports the vocational and technical projects. This will be an advantage and an indicator for the guarantee of their sustainability.
On the other side, Mrs. Asma Hanoun, representative of Nablus directorate of the Ministry of Labour gave feedback on both presented projects. She started her intervention with "You never expect the labour market, yet you better expect and develop the economic sector". She directed her advice to the Civil Society of Nablus Governorate and asserted the issue of concentrating on studying the economic sector as prior step when initiating such kind of vocational trainings noting that this point is important to match the outputs of these trainings with the labour market needs.
The representative of PSD, Mrs. Hanoun recommended to link these outputs with potential donors and funds so their opportunities will be more promising and applicable. She also suggested to establish an e-portal to share the training outputs and make it as shared area with donors, companies, employers and job seekers.
Confirming the same idea, Mrs. Abeer Haridi, representative of CLUSTER Project, Business Women Forum – Palestine contributed in the same path emphasizing the gap of networking that exists between national stakeholders and community entities. Mrs. Haridi recommended the Integration approach and networking as vital step after graduating the beneficiaries and this would bridge the gap of tracking the efforts dedicated in the training.
One more shared recommendation among the participants was to have a data base or data bank for these beneficiaries and at the same time for donors and related entities. This shall be at national level with joint endeavours form the public administrations, community institutions, private sector and all relevant entities.
Then, an intervention was made by Dr. Muhammad Al-Araj, Director General of Employment at the Ministry of Labour who appreciates the efforts dedicated in these pioneering projects. Al- Araj spoke of the annual national strategic plan developed by the Ministry of Labour with the collaboration of all national ministries and stakeholders.
He also spoke of the efforts in progress in terms of Social and Solidarity Economy and its sustainability through the planned International Conference for Donors. This step comes as a need to fund the set of strategic plans that eventually serve employment policies and its application on the adopted programs and trainings. This would also contribute in reducing the rate of unemployment and strengthening the private sectors.
The director of Empowerment Program "Tamkeen" at the Ministry of Social Development, Mr. Murad Moqady stated that the ministry adopts the Social and Solidarity Economy policy as an output of MoreThanAJob project. The ministry obtained the policy of social empowerment through transferring its services from being direct aid to empowerment of vulnerable groups through supporting the pioneering start ups and small enterprises owned by MoreThanAJob project target group.
Moqady also encourage all the beneficiaries of MoreThanAJob project to enroll in Tamkeen Programs where they can get the required support for their startups and project ideas. He opened the door to the beneficiaries to apply and benefit from the ministry services and direct support.
Synergy Discussion Panel was initiated to build the potential bridges towards adopting the best practices in various project contexts. This discussion panel aimed at gathering all similar projects and programs that work on the social and solidarity economy each one from its point of view and practice. Dr. Samah Saleh, initiated the discussion by asking all the participants to define the best practices in each program in favour of SSE.
In this regard, Maha Izhiman, representative of GIZ - PALM Program, defined SSE through their program best practices that are represented in three main levels.
First, the sustainability level through capacity building to their involving stakeholders and local partners who will later pass their knowledge to beneficiaries and apply it in their programs. Second; the executive level, by working with local institutions and partners and adopting two programs (self-employment and employment with wages). Finally; the labour market information level "Marsad" which is a piloting approach to establish a data bank.
Mrs. Izhaiman asserted the interlinking of SSE concept with the operating programs and their context.
As part of the synergy activity, a number of ENICBCMED project contributed in the discussion panel including:
CLUSTER project (advanCing youth and women sociaL inclUSion in the mEditerRanean), represented by MRs. Abeer Haridi who introduced its project and objectives with reference to the SSE concept; "CLUSTER introduces the social economy as a key player in improving employment policies together with Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions and the private sector"
MedRiSSE project (Replicable Innovations of SSE in the provision of services and creation of decent jobs in the post covid-19 crisis recovery), represented by Sireen Barghouthi who related the project concept to MoreThanAJob stating that "Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) organizations have demonstrated the ability to provide high quality and stable jobs, to expand into new sectors and to innovate in response to social needs"
MedTOWN project (Co-producing social policies with SSE actors to fight poverty, inequality and social exclusion), represented by Mr. Laith Sarsour who also linked their project to the discussion: "MedTOWN is an initiative focused on the combined potential of agents of the social and solidarity economy (SSE), citizens and local authorities to co-produce the social policies that can fight poverty, inequality, social exclusion, and environmental unsustainability, providing them with tools and connections to build local resilience and foster the transition towards more fair, resilient and sustainable societies in the Euro-Mediterranean region".
As a final part of this workshop, participants engaged in Group Working Session to develop a concrete Paper of Suggestions and Recommendations on Employment Policies tailored to their specific context. This was done through answering 3 main questions:
(1) In your opinion, describe the social and solidarity economy in your operating policies and programs.... How do you define it?
(2) What are the strengths and weaknesses that can be identified in dealing with the integration of SSE in your policies and programs?
(3) What are your suggestions to activate SSE and turn it into an effective strategy - serving the marginalized groups in our Palestinian society?
At the end of the workshop, the participants gathered to identify the concept of Social and Solidarity Economy each within their institution context. They also invited to provide successful methods and strategies to improve employment policies in Palestine and prepare the labour force considering the development needs and productive sector demands.
As next step, the participants will send the answers by email which will be a drafting stage for the policy brief version 3 for the project.
The workshop resulted in a number of recommendations: the most important one is empowering vulnerable groups to start or improve their businesses through the new skills acquired, and establish a community of practice network for information and knowledge exchange among institutions working on entrepreneurship, and income generation.