A mobile prescription reminder app launched in the Gaza Strip landed a backer in Mercy Corps, which believes the tech startup and others like it could spark entrepreneurship in the Middle East.
The Portland-based nonprofit has long supported economic development throughout the globe. But a partnership announced today with Seattle-based Startup Weekend will root its focus on the tech sphere, an arena it first entered about two years ago.
The weekends are essentially crash courses in creating a business. Teams form around the most popular ideas, then build on them, culminating with a presentation before a panel of judges. A recent Startup Weekend in Portland attracted more than 135 people.
Worldwide Startup Weekend events push could-be entrepreneurs to turn ideas into ventures in three days. Many create apps, websites and other online technologies. Those companies could act as a "game changer" for developing economies, said Andy Dwonch, Mercy Corp's senior director of social innovations.
Even as Internet accessibility grows, Arabic language content and location-based platforms remain sparse, he said. "We see a gap there to help drive economic development and entrepreneurship for young people."