RAMALLAH, JAN 21 (JMCC) - One Palestinian-American entrepreneur dipped into his savings from his Middle Eastern restaurant in Madison and invested $100,000 to start a company called Canaan Fair Trade to retain the deteriorating livelihood of Palestinian farmers in the West Bank.
Seven years later, the company supplies organic olive oil to retailers in several countries including Whole Foods Market in the U.S. and J Sainsbury in Britain.
The son of a watermelon farmer, Nasser Abufarha’s company launched in 2004 and has worked with more than 1,500 farmers in 43 villages. Canaan currently accounts for more than half of all West Bank olive oil exports. Sales are expected to be as high as $5 million next year with profits exceeding $600,000, says Abufarha.
The company started offering growers guaranteed prices, allowing them to make investments in their fields and increase production. Abufarha hopes to double sales, to $10 million, in the next three years and build more olive presses to accommodate a growing list of farmers.
He sees his initiative as a model for other Palestinian businesses that might similarly build bridges between Palestinian villagers and liberal and affluent communities in Europe and the U.S., where he still spends several months a year.
Read the full story at Bloomberg Businessweek…