Home Business Increasing Tech Industry Support for Palestinian Start-ups Amid the Israel-Gaza Conflict

Increasing Tech Industry Support for Palestinian Start-ups Amid the Israel-Gaza Conflict

Numerous teams are actively working to combat bias and misinformation regarding the Gaza conflict.

by Soofiya

The global tech community is known for its ability to bridge divides, foster innovation, and promote social good. This spirit is currently being harnessed to support Palestinian start-ups and the broader Palestinian cause. Here’s a look at how global tech experts are making a difference.

The Need for Support

The Palestinian territories, encompassing the West Bank and Gaza Strip, face significant challenges, including political instability, economic hardship, and restrictions on movement. These factors create a tough environment for entrepreneurs. Yet, despite these hurdles, a vibrant start-up ecosystem is emerging, driven by the resilience and creativity of Palestinian innovators.

Mentorship and Knowledge Transfer

One of the most critical forms of support from global tech experts comes through mentorship and knowledge transfer. Organizations such as the Gaza Sky Geeks and the Palestine Tech Meetups provide platforms where international experts can offer guidance, share experiences, and help build the capacities of Palestinian entrepreneurs.

Experienced tech professionals volunteer their time to mentor Palestinian start-ups, offering advice on business development, technology implementation, market strategies, and scaling operations. This mentorship is crucial in helping these start-ups navigate the complex landscape of the global market.

Investment and Funding

Access to funding is a significant barrier for many Palestinian start-ups. Recognizing this, several international venture capital firms and angel investors are stepping in to fill the gap. The Diaspora Angel Network, for instance, connects Palestinian entrepreneurs with investors from the global Palestinian diaspora and beyond.

Crowdfunding platforms and impact investment funds are also becoming increasingly popular. These financial avenues not only provide much-needed capital but also validate the start-ups’ ideas and potential on a global stage.

Collaborative Projects and Partnerships

Global tech experts are also fostering collaborations between Palestinian start-ups and international companies. These partnerships can take various forms, from joint ventures and co-development projects to research partnerships and technology transfers. Such collaborations provide Palestinian start-ups with access to advanced technologies, broader markets, and new business opportunities.

An example is the partnership between Google and Gaza Sky Geeks, which focuses on providing coding education, mentorship, and resources to young Palestinian entrepreneurs. These initiatives are instrumental in leveling the playing field for Palestinian tech talent.

Advocacy and Awareness

Beyond direct support, global tech experts are using their platforms to advocate for the Palestinian cause. By raising awareness about the challenges faced by Palestinian entrepreneurs and the potential of the Palestinian tech ecosystem, they help attract more international support and investment.

Tech conferences, webinars, and social media campaigns are some of the channels through which these experts share the stories and successes of Palestinian start-ups. This advocacy helps shift the narrative from one of conflict and hardship to one of innovation and potential.

Building Resilient Infrastructure

Lastly, some global tech experts and organizations are focusing on building the digital and physical infrastructure needed to support a thriving tech ecosystem. This includes improving internet connectivity, providing access to modern technological tools, and developing co-working spaces.

For instance, the West Bank-based accelerator, Fikra, works to create a supportive environment for start-ups by offering workspace, networking opportunities, and access to global markets. Such initiatives are crucial in creating a sustainable and resilient start-up ecosystem.

As the Israel-Gaza conflict persists, there has been growing support for Palestinian start-ups from the global technology industry, particularly those affected by the ongoing crisis.

In the coming weeks, an initiative backed by the Bank of Palestine plans to allocate over $2 million to support 20 well-established Palestinian start-ups impacted by the conflict. This effort highlights a broader trend of increased investment and assistance aimed at bolstering the Palestinian tech sector.

Economic Contributions and Challenges

The tech industry made a significant contribution to the Palestinian economy in 2021, injecting nearly $500 million, which accounted for close to 3% of the gross domestic product in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, according to a World Bank report.

However, the ongoing conflict has severely impacted the economy, with nearly half a million jobs lost since October. The Gaza Strip alone saw over 200,000 job losses, while 148,000 commuters from the West Bank lost access to work in Israel. Additionally, escalating violence and disruptions to supply chains and production have eliminated 144,000 positions in the West Bank.

Education and Job Placement Initiatives

Education programmes, such as those offered by Talent Acceleration Platform (TAP), a Dutch-Palestinian upskilling and job placement company, have also been severely affected. TAP’s co-founder, Jafar Shunnar, mentioned that their programmes in software development, digital marketing, and business development have been disrupted. Despite these challenges, TAP continues to assist those it can, collaborating with organizations like HopeHub to provide co-working spaces and support for freelancers in Gaza and those who have relocated to Egypt.

Global Tech Community Engagement

The global tech community is increasingly rallying to support Palestinian start-ups. Ryan Sturgill, principal at CrossBoundary and investment adviser to the Bank of Palestine, emphasized the critical role of technology as a lifeline for many Palestinians. He is leading a Bank of Palestine initiative called Safe Palestine, which aims to raise $5 million for bridge equity investments in promising start-ups. The fund has already secured nearly $2.5 million and is set to disburse funds to 20 start-ups.

These start-ups, which span sectors like logistics, B2C booking apps, construction tech, legaltech, fintech, and healthtech, are well-positioned to tap into regional and global markets despite the challenging environment.

Divided Support from the US Tech Sector

Support from the US tech sector for Palestinian initiatives has been notably divided. While Silicon Valley is home to numerous Israeli-founded unicorns, there is also a growing movement advocating for Palestinian causes. Paul Biggar, co-founder and former CEO of CircleCI, founded Tech for Palestine, a community of tech industry experts that has grown to 5,000 members since its inception. This community focuses on connecting professionals with Palestinian projects, ranging from boycott tools to humanitarian aid.

Innovative Projects and Fact-Checking

Tech for Palestine has supported various innovative projects, such as the Boycat app, which helps users identify pro-Palestinian products by scanning barcodes. Another notable initiative is the October 7 Fact Check tool, which aims to debunk misinformation and propaganda related to the conflict.

Newscord, a website created by London-based Nima Akram, compares news stories to highlight media biases and contradictions. Using AI technology, Newscord provides summaries of different narratives, allowing users to see varying perspectives and form their own conclusions.

The growing support from the global tech industry for Palestinian start-ups amid the Israel-Gaza conflict is a testament to the resilience and potential of Palestinian entrepreneurs. Through financial investment, mentorship, and innovative projects, the tech community is playing a crucial role in fostering a more equitable and informed global dialogue, while also contributing to the economic stability and growth of the Palestinian territories. The support from global tech experts is proving invaluable for Palestinian start-ups. Through mentorship, investment, collaboration, advocacy, and infrastructure development, these experts are helping to unlock the potential of Palestinian entrepreneurs. This support not only fosters innovation and economic growth in the Palestinian territories but also contributes to a broader global understanding and solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

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