On May 20, the “Jerusalem Hills” Cooperative of Al Azarieh and the European Institute for Cooperation and Development (IECD) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) stating the framework of a new cooperation. The MoU was signed in Al Azarieh in the presence of Mr. Khalil Abu Reesh, president of the Cooperative, Mr. Yasser Khalaf, vice-president, Pascal Valette, Head of mission of IECD, and members of the cooperative’s board.
The “Jerusalem Hills” Cooperative was established in February 2010 by a group of women from the town of Al Azarieh, who united to address their economic and social needs by creating income-generating activities in the field of food processing. Today, the Cooperative counts 15 board members, including 12 women and 3 men, and employs 8 permanent staff, as well as 7 staff working on a part time basis. It produces quality processed products, including jam and labneh (a traditional Palestinian product based on fermented milk), delivered to some 90 salespoints in the West Bank. With the benefit of its expertise, the Cooperative also helps and advises 4 other cooperatives in the marketing and distribution of their products.
The objective of the new agreement is to enable the “Jerusalem Hills” Cooperative to play a leading role in the development/reinforcement of other cooperatives in the West Bank and the Jerusalem region. For this reason, the cooperative must remain a key actor, and the agreement’s aims to reinforce the governance and economic sustainability of the cooperative. It also includes tailored investments in equipment to boost the cooperative’s production capacities.
Actions undertaken under the framework of this agreement are financed by the European Union, which reaffirms its support to the development of small enterprises of the Jerusalem region, targeting populations facing challenges in integrating the job market, particularly women and youth. IECD has been present in the Palestinian Territories since 2007 and backs the” Jerusalem Hills” Cooperative since 2010. Mr. Khalil Abu Reesh, president of the board, expressed his satisfaction:
“The signature of this MoU, which fosters the cooperation we have with IECD, a long term and reliable partner, with whom we wish to achieve a lot for our community in Al Azarieh and in West Bank”.