Palestine is a country facing many hardships. Despite all of its challenges, Palestinian entrepreneurs find ways to create solutions for the problems they face, exposing Palestinian entrepreneurial talent and potential to the world. In this article, we will shed light on three fantastic Palestinian start-up incubators, which every Palestinian entrepreneur should consider applying to.
1) GAZA SKY GEEKS
Gaza, objectively speaking, is an open air prison with very little opportunities. The unemployment rate sits at 45%. The poverty rate surpasses 50%.
This is why Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG) is so important and so successful. In 2009, Mercy Corps (an NGO) flew out senior executives from Google to Gaza. It became clear to leaders in both organizations that consistent access to high-speed fiber Internet would allow Gaza’s disenfranchised (yet highly educated) youth to side-step and even take advantage of all the restrictions on the movement of people and goods that are so detrimental to Gaza’s economy.
It is out of these realizations that Gaza Sky Geeks was born: a startup accelerator for young Palestinian entrepreneurs in Gaza. GSG is not only restricted to incubating startups; The GSG SkyLancer Academy trains young freelancers and helps them maximize their skills in the freelance world, and the GSG Code Academy provides intensive tech-education training, professional skills and job-readiness support for those looking to become professional coders and developers.
Today, GSG supports startups, gig economy workers, aspiring software developers, and champions diversity and inclusion. Female participation in Gaza Sky Geeks programs is at 50%, which surpasses most incubators worldwide. The proportion of freelancers they train who get at least one gig online is at a staggering 99%. Since their launch, the cumulative earnings reported by coding & freelancing alumni 12 months post-graduation is around 5M dollars.
Gaza Sky Geeks is undoubtedly a success story. They are a beacon of hope in a place that is in dire need of it.
If you are a coder, a freelancer, an entrepreneur or a mentor looking to help out, apply on their site.
2) THE MOUNTAIN — Al-Jabal
In 2017, Saed Karzon, a seasoned Palestinian entrepreneur and Ashoka fellow, decided to take out a loan and buy a small piece of land in the West Bank. This piece of land would go on to become on of Palestine’s pioneering business incubators — The Mountain.
The Mountain is an identity and self-development program of 6 months targeting young Palestinian women and men aged 16–29 who have creative ideas and projects of all sorts but who have not yet had access to resources and support to develop and launch them. The Mountain Entrepreneurship Program offers a variety of services for participants, from designing a visual identity and ending with financial support ranging from 4–8 thousand dollars.
The Mountain is also a safe space for young Palestinians to discover themselves. As we all know too well, to be Palestinian often means finding yourself in unnecessarily high stress situations. Recently, the Mountain has been offering Yoga courses to its entrepreneurs as a part of its mindfulness-based stress reduction program and wellbeing approach. The Mountain also has its own kitchen and studio that its entrepreneurs have full access to.
Saed Karzon, Founder of the Mountain, emphasizes that his incubator serves three purposes: to inspire, to teach and to mentor. Across the 6 month program, young Palestinians are taught effective communication and pitching skills, negotiation skills, leadership and problem solving, marketing, visual identity, business models and planning, public speaking and resentation skills. In addition, The Mountain offers free online courses on their website related to human resources, business, management and public speaking.
The Mountain is only 3 years old. Their potential is outrageous, and we could not be more excited to see how Mr. Karzon and his team grow. Apply here.
3) FLOW ACCELERATOR
Flow Accelerator is a startup incubator located in Ramallah that provides Palestinian entrepreneurs a one-stop shop for the skills, resources and network needed to shape a sustainable startup ecosystem in Palestine. Flow’s mission statement is to introduce “business best practices and market-adapted incubation and acceleration process in parallel to strengthening the team’s entrepreneurial competencies that meet Palestinian sustainable development requirements for young entrepreneurs”.
Flow offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to accelerate the growth of their business ideas and team competencies through the Flow Entrepreneurship Program. Each program cycle consists of different components over a 9-month period time-frame preceded by a recruitment process that aims to shape interactive and integrated alumnus of enterprises that are an essential element of the Palestinian ecosystem.
The first cycle of Flow’s Entrepreneurship program is the Incubation phase. This phase, conducted over 12 weeks, is designed to provide generic & specific business development mentorship, personal coaching, problem solving, and technical assistance on concept development of prototype, progressive evaluation and product development for each incubated startup delivered by local and international mentors & experts. Flow works closely with the incubated teams to improve their understanding on each component of their business, deliverables and startup lifecycle.
Then comes the six month acceleration phase, in which Flow works with startups to execute the prepared action plan to meet the set milestones of each startup through seed fund financing for each’s financial plan. This phase consists of networking opportunities, alpha & beta testing, negotiations & fundraising skills coaching as well as accomplishing all the milestones that should secure a successive round of investment.
Flow’s physical co-working space is also something to behold: it is 280 sqm. with 2 meeting rooms, 18 shared stations, common areas, accessible space for disabled members and easy public transportation access. This space, seen by its members as a strong and adhesive community, is meant to empower young entrepreneurs and help unlock potential.
The recruitment process starts with an open online application targeting university graduates, entrepreneurs with potential ideas, pre-startups and lean startups. If you are interested, apply here
These are exactly the types of organizations GrowHome is looking to partner with. GrowHome is a platform connecting diasporas to entrepreneurs back home. On GrowHome, diasporas can collaborate, mentor and fund entrepreneurs carrying out real change in their home countries. We empower diasporas to have a real impact by contributing the financial and intellectual resources they’ve learned abroad to innovators back home.
We are currently developing our BETA platform; please visit www.growhome.app to sign up for our waiting list, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for any inquiries you might have!
MISSION is a Ramallah based start-ups center helping youthful Palestinian entrepreneurs create & grow successful start-ups. We’ve included it as a bonus because it is still very new, but the potential that this incubator holds is something we couldn’t ignore.
MISSION is described by its founder, Dawoud Zahran, as a problem-driven, data-driven and inclusive startups center working to help create & grow Palestinian tech startups. They are looking to create one of the most successful start-up support programs in the MENA region, and aim to support 15–20 start-ups and more than 60 founders over the next 3 years.
According to their website, MISSION offers investment opportunities for scalable, MENA-based tech startups founded by capable entrepreneurs. They also have a research branch that provides crucial business intelligence and the needed data to validate and grow their members’ startups.
MISSION also has some valuable content posted on their website, such as an article where they provide more than 40 tools for entrepreneurs in the region.
Unfortunately, their Recruitment Cycle for 2019–2020 has closed. However, we definitely recommend checking out their website.