SEATTLE, Washington — In November 2016, six people came together to create a platform to foster positive change in Palestine. The result was BuildPalestine, a crowdfunding website that connects donors across the world with on-the-ground operations in Palestine.
What is BuildPalestine?
BuildPalestine is a platform that operates both locally and globally. On the local level, the organization team, led by CEO Besan Abu-Jodeh, searches for organizations in Palestine or inspiring individuals who are trying to enact positive change. On the global level, BuildPalestine seeks to connect those organizations and individuals with donors all over the world who are eager to lend a helping hand.
BuildPalestine works as a sort of TripAdvisor for NGOs. The website is designed for individuals who want to donate but are not sure how or maybe are a bit worried about where their money goes. Users are able to view a wide variety of organizations ranging from initiatives in advocacy and human rights to community development and social enterprise. Those who find themselves intrigued by a specific campaign can donate to the cause either through funding or by volunteering time.
BuildPalestine also ensures the legitimacy of all those it supports. The platform is highly selective and only accepts roughly one out of every 10 applicants. Furthermore, each organization must demonstrate how they will meet BuildPalestine’s “three criteria: social impact, innovative social projects and sustainability.” Once an organization has been selected, it will receive coaching and feedback from the organization until the campaign is launched. If a campaign fails to reach its fundraising goal, BuildPalestine has a partial funding system that still allows these groups to put money toward their ideas.
‘Water Heroes’ New Approach to the Water Crises
Several initiatives have been successful on BuildPalestine. Since 1993 and the signing of Oslo II, Israel has controlled the main water supplies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. As a result, water is sometimes a scarce commodity in Palestine. Currently, many Palestinians in the West Bank rely on an underground aquifer. However, because of building delays and other obstacles, Palestinians are able to access only 75 percent of the potential water supply from that aquifer.
To make up for the shortage, the Palestine Authority buys water from Mekorot, the Israeli national water company. Unfortunately, a lack of water infrastructure has lead to the loss of more than a quarter of the water from Mekorot due to leakage. Furthermore, because of inadequate machinery and increasing water waste, 96.2 percent of water attained from the aquifer is considered nonpotable.
The developers of the app Water Heroes has taken a new approach with the water crisis in Palestine. The app focuses on conservation education. Through the means of an interactive game, the app strives to teach kids and their parents about different ways to conserve water. Developers hope that through the app, families will learn how to conserve the clean water while enjoying the game. The app surpassed its $8,000 fundraising goal by $287 through BuildPalestine.
Yadiaha Supports Female Entrepreneurs Through BuildPalestine
Another start-up sparking positive change in Palestine through BuildPalestine is Yadiaha with its initiative to create jobs for talented women in Gaza. In Palestine, on average, women earn 70 percent of the average wage for men. Furthermore, female entrepreneurs are rare. Only 3.5 percent of working women have started their own business, compared to 16 percent of working men. Along with that, Gaza has an extremely high unemployment rate.
Yadiaha’s initiative helps create jobs for female artists in Gaza. With proper funding, these women are able to work in an environment that enhances their abilities. Artists also collaborate with contemporary design artists while making products. As a whole, such a project gives these women a steady income that their families may desperately need and not otherwise get. Currently, the initiative offers scarves and jewelry. Yadiaha raised $5,118 on BuildPalestine.
Even though BuildPalestine is relatively new, the platform has already created positive change in Palestine. Its ability to connect donors to organizations in need has revolutionized fundraising. Individuals and groups with a wide variety of goals and interests now have the ability to change Palestine from within.
– Andrew Edwards