The Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society

The Holy Land Handicraft Cooperative Society was established in 1981 as a means of countering the deterioration of the local handicrafts industry caused by the political situation, which had begun to impact the handicrafts trade by the late 1970s. The Cooperative started encouraging coordination between local independent producers and businessmen, establishing joint projects and facilitating cooperative problem solving. The idea was to build a network between producers who own workshops, facilitating the marketing of their articles inside and outside Bethlehem area, especially olivewood, mother-of-pearl, and embroidery items. The Cooperative strives to alleviate local poverty, decreasing unemployment and increasing the level of income, sustaining at the same time the handicraft industry, to save the traditional heritage. The Cooperative, which has been a member of the World Fair Trade Association since 1991, is willing to create opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers, paying them with fair prices. Great importance is given to the good working conditions and to the environmental practices of the members. Approximately 900 individuals benefit from the Cooperative›s activities, in addition to the non-member producers, such as local disabled groups and women’s groups.