The shy entrepreneur: observations from the2nd Annual Micro-enterprise bazaar in Jerusalem
Introduction• America House, the U.S. Consulate Generals cultural center in East Jerusalem, hosted the 2nd Annual Womens Micro-Enterprise Bazaar and Fashion Show on December 15, at the Ambassador Hotel.• The bazaar featured handicrafts produced by Palestinian women from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. Over 35 Palestinian women entrepreneurs exhibited traditional Palestinian embroidery, hand-made soap, jewellery, foodstuffs, ceramics, and stone- and glass-ware. These are my observations from meeting the women.
Historical origin and overview• Originated in the production of indigenous basic utensils, using materials such as: clay, glass, straw, wood and cane.• The increasing importance of Palestine as a destination for tourists and religious pilgrims has stimulated development of handicraft industries producing for local and international markets. Source: “Palestinian Industries.” Ministry of National Economy, 2004.
Types of handicrafts• Palestinian artisans incorporate local and imported designs in the production of: – olive, – wood and mother-of-pearl souvenirs – crosses – Christmas tree ornaments – Nativity scene sets, – Islamic motifs and jewellery items bearing the insignia of the Holy Land – (hand made) glass – rug weaving – fine painted ceramic tiles and pottery Source: “Palestinian Industries.” Ministry of National Economy, 2004.
Outlets… • Retail outlets mostly found in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron and Gaza City • Handicraft industries are continuing to flourish and they seem to be growing extensively each year.Source: “Palestinian Industries.” Ministry of National Economy, 2004.
Notes on the entrepreneursPersonality & language• Almost all were shy, lacking sales experience• Arabic-speaking sellers and English-speaker buyers … sometimes there is more information needed then just the price of the product
Notes on the entrepreneursSales techniques• Unable (or unwilling) to negotiate prices• In the case of linens, unwilling to separate products and sell per item – for example I wanted a pillowcase, but I had no need for an entire set. If it’s handmade, I didn’t understand the problem in just selling the pillowcase, but it seemed like her and other entrepreneurs are pushing for a big sale, but sometimes customers may walk away.
Notes on the entrepreneursUnaccustomed to answering certain questions• Unable to offer details about the production of the sales item (e.g. I asked one lady where the cocoa in the chocolate originated came from, but she didn’t know. Another entrepreneur didn’t know where the coffee came from that she was using in her ‘medical coffees’ that she mixed with orange zest or ginger).• Little details, but these are important questions that we Westerners ask, but these entrepreneurs seemed unaccustomed to such queries. It’s not always just about the price!
The shy entrepreneur: observations from the2nd Annual Micro-enterprise bazaar in Jerusalem CREDITS Researched by: Andrew Bacchus www.streetecology.com www.facebook.com/streetecology Research made possible by a grant from the Lebovic Foundation at The University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Canada.