Entrepreneurship is closely tied with the unexpected, be it a new gadget, app or tool. Everyday we hear about stories of products and services that challenge and change how we live, work, travel and communicate; but every once in a while we hear about a new breakthrough from an unexpected place, which brings hope that entrepreneurs could help improve people's lives in areas suffering tough conditions. This time, the hype is happening somewhere you would least expect to have a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem: The Gaza strip, Palestine.
Given its extreme conditions and everyday problems including - but not limited to - the lack of power supply, borders closure, and economic and political instability, the Gaza strip has one of the toughest business environments in the world; and yet these problems have created a fertile field of opportunities and possibilities for development. Various startup events in the recent years (including Gaza Startup Weekend, entrepreneurship bootcamps, and business plan competitions) have fired up the talent and drive for local entrepreneurs, while many international and local organizations are funneling their support into future Gaza startups and small businesses. Today, entrepreneurs from Gaza are participating and competing within regional and international startup events in their pursuit to come up with the next big thing.
But while the developing startup community of Gaza is promising, it still has some length to cover before it starts to really make an impact. The local community needs first to nurture its talent and support local entrepreneurs, and local entrepreneurs need to become aware of the needs and trends of regional and international markets, improve their skills, and get linked to the global startup movement. This is one of the main reasons why we are launching Startup Grind Gaza: to inspire entrepreneurs to take action, link them with successful business leaders, and to create new networking opportunities.
Startup Grind Gaza chapter will launch with the support of “Gaza Sky Geeks” business accelerator, and the “Gaza Chamber of Commerce”. Startup Grind Gaza will also be supported by rising startups of Gaza including our media sponsor “Ain Media” and our design sponsor "Haweya for IT”.
If you are interested to learn from experts and get an opportunity to network with like-minded people, join us for our first event on August 6th at 11:00AM at Gaza Sky Geeks (Near Al-Mena), where we will be hosting Iliana Montauk, the director of Gaza Sky Geeks.
Iliana’s interest in harnessing tech entrepreneurship for development in frontier markets arose from her past experience at Google, a microfinance nonprofit and Wamda, a media outlet focused on startups in the Arab world. She graduated summa cum laude from Harvard in 2006 and completed a Fulbright in Jordan in 2012 focused on startups in the Middle East. Originally from Poland and the San Francisco Bay Area, Iliana speaks five languages, including Arabic.
Gaza Sky Geeks is the first startup accelerator in Gaza, launched in 2011 by the global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps. Gaza Sky Geeks fills a critical need in Gaza, where young tech talent is abundant but opportunities are in short supply. It brought the first international private investment to Gazan startups in late 2013. In 2015, Gaza Sky Geeks ran the biggest crowdfunding campaign to date in the Arab world.
Register now online to attend our first event and tell your friends whom would be interested to join us. All Startup Grind events are published on YouTube later, too - including thousands of videos from the over 180 global Startup Grind chapters.