Producing medical coveralls in West Bank and Gaza during coronavirus pandemic

By Dima Hamdallah

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EBRD and EU advice programme helps Zoom Bags act fast

School bags are not currently much in demand since schools in most countries may not complete the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic. So a small company in the West Bank and Gaza, Zoom Bags, decided to help local medical staff by switching production from school bags to coveralls, leveraging past support from the EBRD. 

Aside from school bags, Zoom Bags, located in Nablus, normally manufactures mattresses for nurseries and gym-related gear. But when the Palestinian authorities declared a state of emergency in March, the Operations Manager of Zoom Bags, Youssef Sokhon, proposed that his team start producing medical coveralls, which are very expensive but very much needed in the medical sector.

Zoom Bags has been a client of the EBRD since 2019 under its Advice for Small Businesses programme, funded by the European Union. The programme assisted the company by providing advice on improving the efficiency of internal processes & manufacturing techniques to help them develop their production and decrease its cost, along with the opportunity to acquire an ISO 9001 managerial certificate to help with marketing and exporting.

To keep up with the demand in the West Bank and Gaza, Zoom Bags created their own design for the coveralls and creatively employed the raw materials that were formerly used to make children’s mattresses, which have antibacterial, anti-fire and water proof components that are all preventive of the virus. Once the supplies are ready for selling they are packaged individually in a sanitised, anti-bacterial and waterproof bag before they are ready for distribution.

The company tested their new design by gifting some sample to hospitals and received very positive feedback. They then decided to send samples to the Palestinian Standards Institution who approved their design on account of its high quality and low price to help medical practitioners do their jobs and keep safe.

In order to help other factories affected by the crisis, Mr Sokhon decided to involve them in assembling the coveralls. With the help of more workers, they were able to increase the quantity produced, work faster, and help other employees and their families survive during these tough times. Since March they have produced around 1,200 overalls, with the help of their own 30 employees working in shifts along with other workers from five different factories.

Mr Sokhon said: “My employees were initially reluctant to produce something new that they had no experience in, but their morale was boosted when several TV channels came to film our success story, and with the approval granted by the Palestinian authorities, they were happy to be part of a great initiative that serves Palestinians and medical staff.”

Zoom Bags is now waiting for the official approval to produce medical masks, which is their next line of production to continue helping their country during this pandemic. They plan to continue to produce the medical coveralls even after the coronavirus pandemic to help different industries that can benefit from this new product.

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