We “Zoomed” with Shirabe, Executive Director at Sunbula, who was all the way in Japan during the time of the call, to hear about the results of their latest crowdfunding campaign

Sunbula is a Jerusalem-based fair trade organization that supports artisan groups, and marginalized women and communities in Palestine through the promotion and sale of traditional artisanal crafts. The organization, founded in 1988, has a stronghold in Jerusalem, and Palestine as a whole, and has been working to support different communities for the past 33 years. 

In the summer of 2020, Sunbula launched a Covid-19 relief campaign. The team was able to raise more than $17,000 USD, over twice the original fundraising goal. “We thought that because of the Covid-19 situation at the time, it was going to be a more challenging campaign to run, but it turned out to be the opposite.” Sunbula ended up raising the goal twice. “It was a huge surprise to us.” Shirabe commented. 

And because of the online activity promoting the crowdfunding campaign, the Sunbula online shop saw a spike in orders, especially in the months following the campaign. This was a significant push to Sunbula and their partner producer groups. “The more exposure we got, the more direct impact we could make.” noted Shirabe.

Of the funds raised, about 60% went to Sunbula, and the other 40% went as direct aid to eight partner producers and artisan groups. The funds from the campaign were a ‘breather’ for many of these artisan groups, who otherwise may have had to shut down. The Oasis Center in Bethlehem for example, was able to secure funds for daily transportation costs for their workers with disability. Other producer groups who were able to benefit from the campaign relief fund are Jelld, Bethlehem Arab Women’s Union, Amari Women’s Program Center, Melkite Pastoral Center, The Surif Women’s Cooperative and Idna Ladies’ Association.

The ripple effect of impact

We spoke to Sadiyeh from the Idna Ladies’ Association, who sends her genuine gratitude to supporters of the campaign. “Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, orders through Sunbula were sufficient to provide income for the association’s employees, as well as purchasing supplies. The pandemic affected everyone and especially our association and women who work at the organization.” Sadiyeh said. The campaign helped provide direct income for the women working in embroidery, many of whom spent over three months without any pay. The association is larger than sales of products, Sadiye added. “I was able to send all my daughters to college with the income I make from my work. I thank every person who feels with us and anyone in need, and who supports the work we do.” Sadiyeh recognizes that donations are not sustainable, and to truly survive during and beyond the pandemic, orders need to continue coming in. The Idna Ladies’ Association supports 40 households in the area. 

On Sunbula’s end

The fairtrade organization is currently working on rebranding their website and different digital marketing channels. Similarly to other organizations, Sunbula has had to focus on going digital to compensate for the in-person sale losses. The constant closures and lockdowns were an additional challenge in 2020, but things are looking up. 

Shirabe says their online sales have been solid since the holiday season.  But not enough to compensate for Covid losses. If you’d like to support fairtrade in Palestine, check out Sunbula’s shop here.

Stay tuned to the latest from Sunbula. To browse through Sunbula’s store, visit https://www.sunbula.org/ and follow their Facebook and Instagram