by Osama Radi, Emad Drimly
GAZA, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) — Due to a hard living situation and amid a high rate of unemployment, Nagham Skeik, a 31-year-old housewife in Gaza, markets her pastries and sweets, including cakes and deserts made at home, on her Facebook page to earn some money to support her family.
Skeik, who earned a certificate in social services and education from one of Gaza universities, told Xinhua that in the beginning she thought that it will be useless, waste of time, money and efforts to market her homemade food on social media, adding “then I tried, and the startup was encouraging.”
Rate of unemployment in the Gaza Strip, under the rule of Islamic Hamas movement since 2007, climbed to around 55 percent and the rate of poverty over there is almost the same, according to official figures. The hike of rates is result of the tight Israeli blockade, which has been imposed on the territory for around ten years.
Besides the endless tight Israeli blockade, which weakened and exhausted the Palestinian economy, an internal split between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party, which rules the West Bank, even makes the situation worse.
Skeik launched her private business several months ago, promoting products online. “Now I have my customers who contact me on my page. They send a message and order the kind of product they like, such as pastries, cakes, sweets or deserts,” she said.
“I take the order on the internet, I make amount they order, then I contact the customers on Facebook and ask them to come and take what they ordered,” said Skeik, adding “when the customers come to pick up the food, they pay for it. The order usually takes one day to be ready.”
Skeik and many other housewives in the Gaza Strip make various kinds of food at home and try to sell them to their friends and neighbors who can afford to buy it. However, Skeik is smart to think about marketing her products through Facebook.
“My project on Facebook is called Honey Yum,” said Skeik with smile, adding “I add beautiful photos on my page of various kinds of products I made to attract customers.”
She said most of her customers are from Gaza city, and they need the pastries, cakes, cupcakes, sweets and deserts for certain ceremonies, like birthday parties, engagements and weddings.
“I usually ornament the cakes and the pastries with little artistic pieces of colorful papers, like little stars, a moon or a sun. The taste of my food is certainly different from the taste of the same products in the markets in Gaza, because my products are giving the taste of a homemade food.”
Although the Gaza Strip crossings, either with Israel or with Egypt, are closed most of the time in a year, which limits the free movement of people and goods, people in the coastal enclave began to realize that they may deal with these difficulties by launching online businesses.
Skeik’s online service has helped attract customers and push business development, which in turn encourages her to introduce more kinds of products. Comments and likes of her page from visitors explain an appreciation of her food.
The young housewife has joined local public exhibition of homemade food products recently. She said that several non-governmental organizations and restaurants had signed contracts with her.