Food Processing Development Training for Women’s Cooperatives

Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil works closely with more than 25 women’s centers that are the backbone of hospitality services along the Masar Ibrahim community-based walking trail. Masar Ibrahim has constantly strived for development and sustainability of the centers. The organization invests in community leaders by organizing various courses and workshops. The training sessions, besides being the source of knowledge and practical exercises, are also a mean of bringing the members of the women’s centers from various regions of the country together. Thanks to the joint workshops, they have a chance to get to know each other, exchange their work-related experiences and even build long-lasting friendships.

Some of the women’s centers chose to specialize in food production as an income generating activity. Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil would like to encourage the other centers to begin food production in order to be able to support their members financially. In December 2017, the organization has begun a “Training of Trainers,” which is a workshop that aimed to introduce center’s leaders into important topics related to food production, e.g. hygiene, quality assurance, marketing, cost estimate, and pricing. The workshops were planned according to the women’s needs and designed to solve problems they face. “The women often have a problem in specifying a price of a product. Sometimes they even lose of the sale,” said Amira Jaber, Women and Community Development Coordinator at Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil.

The teachers who gave courses were recommended by the Bethlehem University and were chosen according to their experience and qualifications of working with small businesses and women’s cooperatives. Mr. Michel Tannas, specialized in marketing, introduced the women to the basic marketing theories and terms and motivated them to think about various marketing ideas for their products and how to conduct the marketing plan. Mr. Mohammed Hmidat, specialized in food processing and quality control, thought them various ways of food preservation and how to make sure that a product is suitable for sale and compels with national standards. He also introduced the women to special tools that they could use in their production, for instance tools for measuring the level of humidity and acidity, and boiling temperature of a product. Mrs. Taghreed Shadeh, instructed the trainees on the rules of hygiene, and what is more, construction and infrastructure design of the production space.

Some of the representatives of the cooperatives brought with them their products to receive tutors’ comments and sell some of them to other trainees.

The women were positive about their learning experience. “During the training, we have learned how to make better products and how to market them in a more creative way. This is important because this will bring us more clients and raise our sales,” said Abeer Abu Kabar, member of Aqraba Women’s Center. “The training is very important for us because it showed us the way to success on the market,” said Huda Suleyman Shadid, member of Dura Women’s Center.

There is also planned the second phase of the training that will include personal coaching in the production locations. The places will be monitored and adjusted according to the national standards of food processing.