Gaza is rich with educated youth — but poor in job opportunities. The tightly controlled borders make it difficult for residents to engage with the global marketplace and limit economic growth. But the Internet has no borders.
In a recent segment on NPR's All Things Considered Mercy Corps' efforts to support the technology sector in Gaza took center stage. In partnership with Oasis 500, the leading investment organization in the region, we are working to develop Gaza as an innovative tech hub by providing funding and mentorship to local Gazans with startup dreams.
The new program builds on our past work to bring training, start-up weekends and hardware resources to young Gazans. Through the business accelerator Gaza Sky Geeks that we developed, startup teams will receive $14,000 of seed money from Oasis 500, in addition to participating in several months of intensive training before having a chance to pitch outside investors
One hundred sixty four Gazan entrepreneurs applied for a chance to pitch their ideas to the Jordanian investment firm. Seven got a shot. Three, so far, have been chosen for funding.
Salwa Katkhuda of Oasis 500 is looking forward to working with these groups from Gaza, who “are hungry to start their own businesses. They are ready to work really hard. They are ready to beat the odds and they have that culture embedded in them.”
John Ross, who directs Mercy Corps' Digital Economy Program, wants to build a blueprint from this experience in Gaza “that can be replicated in other countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa; we're looking at Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and Iraq.”