Portland, Ore – June 5, 2013 – The global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps and Portland-based private equity firm Rogue Venture Partners today announced plans to launch Gaza Sky Geeks as a standalone business accelerator in the Gaza Strip, the first of its kind.
Gaza Sky Geeks was initially funded as part of Mercy Corps’ Arab Developer Network Initiative, through a generous donation from Google in 2011. Mercy Corps currently hosts activities in the space, such as technology trainings and hackathons. These events bring Gazan developers together to try out their concepts and learn from one another.
Mercy Corps and Rogue Venture Partners have combined forces in order to turn Gaza Sky Geeks into a true accelerator program to take the most promising business ideas to the next level. Six teams will be selected this fall as the first cohort for a three month intensive program. Each team will receive working capital, advanced technical training, and a global network of mentors to help them refine their business plans and prepare for a regional investor road show.
“The ICT environment has really started to heat up in the West Bank,” said John Ross, digital economy program director at Mercy Corps. “While the same levels of tech talent exist in Gaza, young people here have limited exposure to the outside world, and as a result their understanding of market opportunities is relatively constrained.”
Youth unemployment in Gaza stands at 58%, more than twice the regional average. Despite this fact, hundreds of Gazan youth graduate each year with degrees in information and communications technology (ICT). Gaza Sky Geeks sits at the center of a rapidly expanding technology entrepreneurship network.
“The talents of highly educated, highly motivated young people across the Middle East, and specifically in the Palestinian Territories, have been vastly underutilized,” said Tom Sperry, managing director of Rogue Venture Partners. “We feel privileged to partner with a world class organization like Mercy Corps to make a fundamental difference in how people invest and support promising entrepreneurs in this region.”
About Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps helps people turn the crises they confront into the opportunities they deserve. Driven by local needs, our programs provide communities in the world’s toughest places with the tools and support they need to transform their own lives. Our worldwide team in over 40 countries is improving the lives of 19 million people.
About Rogue Venture Partners: Rogue Venture Partners is a Portland-based Private Equity firm that invests in disruptive entrepreneurs that reject the status quo, and who are driven by market traction. We value ingenuity, insight, and intelligence, and are committed to increasing Oregon's entrepreneurial footprint through committed, sustainable investment in new businesses and growing enterprises. For more information, see http://www.roguevp.com/.