Many might not be familiar with Dawalina Agricultural Processing Company, it is a name that expresses ambition, perseverance and ability to face financial distresses and economic decline. It is a dream of four cooperative associations that agreed on the idea and goals, and united their efforts under this name.
This is a company like no other. It is a small-sized company with noble goals and limited financial resources, do not search for profit, specializes in manufacturing grape-based products in Hebron, the largest governorates in the southern side of the West Bank and the most famous in grapes, with a population of about one million.
The company is made up of four cooperative associations: The Savings and Credits Cooperative Association: Dura Association for Agricultural Processing, Dura Association for Irrigated and Protected Crops, and the Agricultural Marketing Association, all united on the same idea of establishing a model factory in the southern part of the West Bank, to manufacture grape molasses, malban, raisins, and grape juice, according to international standards.
The company owners thought of the project primarily to serve women, and to serve the unemployed youth, males and females after studying the area where they live, and realizing the Palestinian market needs for diverse grape-based products, which are unique in Hebron governorate.
Arwa Al-Atawneh Said: “Nothing resembles Hebron grape; it is a product that sits on the throne of Palestinian fruits”. She adds that before the association went to this partnership, they conducted an extensive market study and made grape-based production the core of their services. On addition they also sought to help dozens of unemployed youth in achieving their dream of being employed.
Arwa Al-Atawneh, 46 years, is a woman who is always ready for business and dealing with people. She made her path of success from humble beginnings, overcoming tremendous personal challenges to become one of the executives of the Savings and Credit Association, an association concerned with women’s affairs and their economic empowerment.
Al-Atawneh, a mother of four, obtained the Oxfam International Award for economic empowerment of women, she struggled to promote the savings policy for the women of the governorate. She also struggled on the way to rise the corporate ladder. In cooperation with other members of the association, the Savings and Credit Cooperative Association, she founded two companies: the first is “Dawalina” specializes in manufacturing grape-based products, packaging grape leaves and exporting it. The second is Shahed Grapes, specializes in marketing and storage of fresh grapes.
For her part, the director of the Cooperative Associations for Savings and Credit, Randa Abed Rabbo, considered that the association’s branch in Hebron is important partner in the company “Dowalina” that was founded three years ago, especially since the company's goals intersect with the association’s goals, especially by strengthening the role of marginalized groups In social, economic, cultural and political life. Based the laws, principles and ethics of cooperative work based on self-management, democracy, equality, justice and solidarity, which emphasizes the seventh principle of cooperative work "cooperation between cooperatives", along with the goal of finding income sources for families of the members of associations, with the aim of improving the standard of living through Small income-generating projects funded by the associations, as well as an effective contribution to developing and strengthening the role of the Palestinian cooperative movement within Palestinian society in a manner that ensures the achievement of its desired development goals.
Abed Rabbo continued: “Having a successful cooperative work experience anywhere is a great incentive to achieve and excel beyond any limitations. These experiences will have a greater impact when the impact exceeds success to help families improve their economic situation and protect them from destitution and need”.
Dawalina Agricultural Processing project is funded by the American project "Compete", and Oxfam International, in partnership with the Palestinian Agricultural Relief (PARC) and the associations affiliated under the name of “Dawalina” with a total amount of $500,000. It is one of the small projects in Palestine, which represents a success story that needs further support and financing, especially as it employs over 50 young men and women, and positively contributes to keeping dozens of families out of poverty.
Hussam Al Qawasmi, President of the Agricultural Marketing and Production Cooperative Association for Marketing and manufactuering, which is one of the partner associations in Dawalina states: “The establishment of this company faced great challenges, but due to cooperating with various institutions, we were able to achieve our goal. After two years of meetings, workshops and brainstorming to ponder the needs of the project, we came up with a vision for this development project, where Oxfam, through Besco Company was able to design the factory, production line and to put the specifications for equipment, and to calculate an estimated cost for the production line and equipment".
Huda Shadid, Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Dura for Food Processing, which is also one of the partner associations in “Dawalina”, added: “The company’s success story through the coalition of associations is a good indication of the desire for cooperative work that would achieve economic development, decrease unemployment, and contribute to establishing a culture of work, perseverance, production increase and encourage the establishment of small projects, to become an important component of the national economy, where micro, small and medium enterprises form 90% of its components”.
Shadid also considered that the Palestinian economy is in need for associations and institutions that are resilient in overcoming adversities, and having courageous leaders ready to take risks, which is critical in facing difficulties afflicting our community in light of the current political and economic struggles.
Through the biographies of the workers at the company “Dawalina” for Agricultural Processing, you can see the amazing personal stories of them, helping their families overcoming the ordeals after working employed $20 per day”.