Producing medical masks and coveralls in Jordan during the coronavirus pandemic

By Dima Hamdallah

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How a business supported by EBRD and EU is facing the challenge

Expanding a company’s market to reach countries worldwide through exports and increase profits is a common business goal. However, for Arabella, a producer of medical supplies including disposable sterile surgical gowns and drape packs, the outbreak of coronavirus in Jordan gave the company a more important purpose: now they only produce masks and coveralls for local use.

Arabella has been an EBRD Advice for Small Businesses client since 2017 and has received support funded by the European Union to improve the company’s IT performance as well as financial analysis and planning. 

Since Arabella is one of only two companies that produce medical disposables in all of Jordan, the Ministry of Health has sought its help in manufacturing urgently needed medical supplies during the pandemic.

The Jordanian Food and Drugs Administration and the Ministry of Health used to import 4.5 million and 500,000 medical masks each year, respectively. Since February, Arabella provided the country with around 400,000 masks that were manually produced. They imported a new machine solely for manufacturing masks with the capacity to produce 100,000 masks per day.

From January this year, Arabella started to focus exclusively on manufacturing face masks and coveralls for the local market, as per the decision.

To keep up with this unexpected demand, Yamama Al Zoubi, Arabella’s General Manager, was quick in taking action. Fearing that they would run out of imported raw material, before the ban, she ordered enough to last at least a few months.

Ms Al Zoubi is proud that her company had the opportunity to shine as one of the only in Jordan producing medical supplies during a time when potential clients were lost because of a temporary ban on exports: “We are so lucky with our committed team, who have worked tirelessly because they know that we are helping the people of Jordan. We are focused on the difference we are making and our social responsibility towards our country.”

Before March this year, the Arabella company was operating with the help of around 80 workers, 90 per cent of whom are women. But to keep up with the current production demand, 20 extra workers were employed, to enable two shifts per day. Today their masks are uniquely certified by the government, and produced from waterproof materials and components guaranteed to isolate the Covid-19 virus.

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