Thursday February 7th, 2019 ARCO LAB

A study on social enterprises in Palestine: what’s new?

study on social enterprises

In Palestine, the unemployment rate of persons with disabilities has risen to 87%. “Let’s start up!” funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and implemented by Educaid, promotes the creation of social enterprises that foster the inclusion of women with disabilities and mothers of persons with disabilities in Palestine.

The project activities include the promotion of self-employment for women with disabilities through the creation of startups and social enterprises incubators. Awareness raising activities, mainly addressing the private sector, are also carried out.

We can’t operate in the social enterprise sector in Palestine without having first a clear picture of its features and of the opportunities for social enterprises to rise and develop.
That was the origin of the study on social enterprises in Palestine we conducted together with the local universities, Birzeit University and An-Najah University. In addition to that, the research served as a baseline for the measurement of success of the project initiatives.
For this in-depth study on social enterprises, we adopted a mixed-method approach, involving both qualitative and quantitative tools: questionnaires and semi-structured interviews were designed and case studies selected in close collaboration with the local universities.

First of all, in Palestine there is no clear definition of what a social enterprise is. Therefore, we had to agree on a common definition and draft a questionnaire aiming at spotting organizations that could be considered social enterprises. The different legal status of the organizations included in the sample reflects the lack of an ad hoc legislation.

The semi-structured interviews to key informants helped understand the context in which the project is implemented and the challenges the social enterprises face in the Palestinian ecosystem.

Both in Nablus and in Ramallah:

  • > There is a strong involvement of women in the business activities, but a lack of inclusiveness towards people with disabilities.
  • > A great percentage of the organizations (more than 50%) still partially rely on donations and grants.
  • > The organizations reported that they usually involve stakeholders in the decision-making process (66% in Ramallah, 87% in Nablus)
  • > In Ramallah 76% of the organizations stated that they employ paid staff, in Nablus about 87% of the organizations employ paid staff. On the other hand most of them involve volunteers and heavily rely on their work.

A few final considerations

Concerning the shortcomings of the social enterprise sector we identified the lack of a legal definition of social enterprise and the lack of social entrepreneurship education and awareness. Moreover, the level of inclusion of persons with disabilities is quite low compared to that of the women. Although there isn’t a clear legal framework, the cultural attitude towards solidarity and the social commitment are strong enough to create opportunities and new kinds of businesses.


If you are interested to know more on the research findings and the case studies we analyzed, we would be more than happy to share them with you! Write an email to info[at]