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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 10:33 GMT
Call centre plan for Palestinians
Palestinian showing papers at Israeli roadblock
Israel keeps tight hold on occupied areas in the name of security
A UK-based charity plans to set up call centres in Gaza and the West Bank to boost the crippled Palestinian economy.

Transformational Business Network (TBN) says it wants to establish the first centres by the end of this year.

TNB hopes to create 900 jobs over five years offering IT support and other services across the Middle East.

The charity wanted to devise a scheme that would not be affected the frequent closures imposed on Palestinian areas by the Israeli military.

Nearly half Palestinians in the occupied territories live on or below the poverty line, surviving on less than two dollars a day.

Call centre employees will work in local centres using modern call routing technology.

Private enterprise

TBN is currently raising the $1.1m from investors and international donors to finance the project's start-up and first year costs.

Project manager Jerry Marshall says the next few months are "crucial" but he is optimistic about long term success.

"We have nearly everything in place, I see no reason why this shouldn't be successful," he says.

"In Egypt, this industry has created almost 10,000 jobs in five years."

"We believe that private enterprise can do more to alleviate poverty than almost anything else in the long term."

The project will initially be run by TBN - a network of businessmen trying to alleviate poverty in impoverished areas of the world - in close co-operation with Palestinian, Israeli and UK partners.

There are plans to locate the West Bank operations in Jenin and Beit Jala, and all call centres will forge close links with Palestinian universities.

Initially, they will offer computer support, but the project hopes to branch out into hotel bookings and other administrative services

They will also offer bi-lingual services.

"If we're dealing with Dubai, then up to 80% of the calls will be in English," Mr Marshall says.

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