Young couples establish home businesses to overcome harsh conditions in Gaza Strip

Adli and Jumana Obaid, a young couple from the blockaded Gaza Strip, have found a way to ensure a stable source of income by baking a variety of cakes and sell them to customers.

Spending many hours a day to make and decorate cakes, the couple decided to open their own business after giving up on an idea to secure a stable job.

In 2011, the 29-year-old father of three became a left-leg amputee after an Israeli warplane hit him in front of his house located in Shuja’eya neighborhood in eastern Gaza city. Israel claimed that it targeted a Hamas military position.

After Adli Obaid went through his treatment in Jordan and the Gaza Strip, he has faced obstacles to find a suitable job that would keep him afloat.

“I found nothing,” the young man said with a breaking voice, adding that his expenses and responsibilities went up with his growing family.

In a bid to help her husband, Jumana, who graduated from a primary education college, suggested to turn her hobby of baking cakes into a business.

“I started my project with 15 U.S. dollars when I prepared three cakes,” the 27-year-old mother of three said, adding that she earned about 10 dollars for the first time.

To improve her skills, she took classes to excel in the business and with time, her efforts bore fruit, bringing her dozens of satisfied customers.

“We live in the most impoverished place in the world, but we can change the toughest situation by investing in our hobbies, as well as believing in our dreams,” the young woman said, while she was putting a chocolate cake in the oven.

Jayyab al-Wehaidy and Aseel al-Khaldy, another Palestinian couple from Gaza city, got married two years ago. Both of them graduated from universities in the strip in 2012.

Al-Khaldy, 27, said that she worked as a stringer for seven years, but due to the difficult circumstances, she was forced to leave her work and could not find another position in the media.

Her 27-year-old husband is a graduate of the Developmental Rehabilitation Department, but he has worked in many fields that differ from his field of study, including a sales representative for a coffee production company, a taxi driver, and a vendor seller in local markets.

“The coronavirus crisis forced me to become unemployed,” the young man said, adding that the debts have accumulated and he was struggling to pay for rent, something that could eventually lead to his expulsion.

To overcome the unprecedented economic crisis, the couples launched their home business to prepare fast food for their customers.

Calling the project “the Olive Branch,” the couple decided to prepare a new type of fast food that would still be tasty and healthy.

The wife said that “it is important to always try to overcome the difficult conditions we are living in by inventing new ideas, without having to wait for financial aid.”

Meanwhile, the two couples complained about the lack of fairness in youth employment programs and the distribution of financial aid that reaches the Gaza Strip, through both non-governmental and governmental institutions.

“Institutions are supposed to support the youth sector by financing small economic projects that guarantee permanent job opportunities,” al-Wehaidy said.

“Unfortunately, there are armies of unemployed graduates, and they do not have any hope of building their future in light of the current economic and political conditions, from which we suffer greatly,” he added.

According to official Palestinian statistics, the Gaza population suffers from many crises, on top of which is the high unemployment rate, which reached 46 percent during the first quarter of 2020.

Unemployment rates in the Gaza Strip, home of 2 million people, are among the highest rates in the world, according to the World Bank.

The poverty rate among the residents of the Gaza Strip rose to 53 percent and the extreme poverty rate reached 33.8 percent, according to the latest official statistics issued by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.