Last year, we told you about the Social Enterprise Project (SEP), which employs skilled Palestinian refugee women at the Gaza refugee camp in Jerash, Jordan as artisans. These artisans make many unique handmade products, including embroidered home and fashion accessories, like shawls, tablecloths, bags, towels and scarves. Now we’re back with some exciting updates about the project! But first, here are just a few reasons why we love SEP:
- It supports refugee women– The women behind the handmade pieces are all refugees. Working with SEP, they receive above-market rates for their work. SEP empowers less fortunate women through providing them with professional, personal and economic stability.
- It is eco-sustainable– All the embroidery is handmade and so is most of the assembling; therefore, minimal machinery is used. SEP also manufactures locally and ensures recycling is a part of the production process. This awareness has not gone unnoticed. SEP was awarded the Butterfly Mark which, according to SEP’s website, “is awarded to luxury lifestyle brands that take pride in their craftsmanship, service and design, whilst protecting our planet and its resources”.
- It revives Palestinian heritage– SEP brings a piece of Palestinian heritage into our homes through its various products. Also, SEP introduces more people to the artisans’ work. It also brings the Palestinian art of embroidery to the world through partnering with influential ambassadors, such as Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, a barrister, human rights activist, and founder of Landmark Hotels, as well as Chaker Khazaal, who is named Arabian Business Most Influential Young Arab 2016 and Esquire Man of the Year 2015. The Chaker scarf, one of SEP’s products, is endorsed by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd!
SEP Founder, Roberta Ventura, gave BarakaBits some updates on the project:
- SEP embroidered wall art will be on display at a selection of suites at the Landmark hotel in Amman by this autumn.
- SEP products can be found in a number of cities including Amman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Beirut and London.
- In April, the SEP-Tamari academy was launched at the camp, where artists improve their skills, learn new techniques and receive training.
- SEP also has a series of non-profit activities, such as English classes for children and is working on yoga classes for the artists, in collaboration with Amman-based partners
We’ll now leave you with a quote from Roberta about what inspired the SEP project.
“When you have been a refugee for 50 years, you stop dreaming, you stop hoping, you stop planning. This was the the reality when we started working in the Jerash refugee camp in Jordan in 2013. And this is why we decided to step in as the private sector and over time, replace the dependence on aid: working with the refugees, accompanying them above the poverty level and enabling them to monetize and celebrate their skills as well as their talent, heritage and culture via a peer-to-peer relationship. We believe that ’aid overdose’ can be counter-productive, as we can see every day in our work.”
This article was originally published on BarakaBits on July 3rd, 2016.