As we celebrate our 13th anniversary, we are embarking on a new era for Leaders Organization. In the decade since our inception, we have grown from a provider of capacity development and training services for young Palestinians to a large and respected organization focused on private sector development. Having established Palestine’s first startup accelerator and a mini-technology park, we continue to expand our interventions. We have succeeded in building one of Palestine’s most professional and respected non-governmental organizations from the grounds up; now we are ready to turn it into “a regional leader in developing inclusive, sustainable and dynamic economies”.
Our work in supporting the growth of an ecosystem and the development of a community around entrepreneurship and startups in Palestine has seen significant pay off. In view of these achievements, we set out to identify and to formulate a new strategy that will guide our work for the years 2015-2017, during which we will continue to “help visionaries step out of their comfort zone, take risks and create opportunities that fast-forward the economy”.
The Digital Entrepreneurship Program successes:
- A platform created for potential entrepreneurs at three Palestinian universities in the West Bank in collaboration with the universities, their career centres, and centres of excellence.
- 1000 students from different specializations (Business and IT) got the opportunity to obtain firsthand experience and to develop their entrepreneurial skills to better qualify them for the emerging startups scene.
- Leaders Organization under the B&S Consortium that includes B&S Europe, Leaders Organization and Spark, launched the “Business Startup Incubator Support program”. The program aims to facilitate the creation of Start-ups through incubation and enhancement of entrepreneurial skills to make them more competitive and financially sustainable. The main target will be university students, the target number of beneficiaries will be 1200 by the end of 2019, resulting in the creation of 120 technology start-ups. The program’s geographical segment includes six different localities throughout the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.
The first Acceleration program in Palestine- FastForward Accelerator
- 18 seed investments to date
- Several graduates of our project in the Digital Entrepreneurship Program are currently in negotiations with funders for further investments worth over $500,000
- Partnership with Ibtikar Fund to assure the sustainability of the program that will also allow promising startups to receive follow on investments upon finishing the acceleration period
- FastForward Accelerator was able to make a country-wide impact that lead to reshaping the Palestinian economy in the field. We were able to measure this impact through a number of indicators. First, the massive increase of the number of applications, with 25 applications in the first round, and 300 applications by the sixth. Second, the consortium of donors supporting the project has expanded vastly. It was initially lead by the Welfare association and currently includes USAID, The European Union, the Belgian Technical Cooperation, the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, Spark, Mercy Corps and GIZ. Third, new investment funds were established; such as Arabreneur, Bader, Ibtikar Fund, Mena-II, and PIF. Over $250million is now available for investments in startups in different stages of development.
Establishment of Palestine’s first and only technology park- eZone
- eZone is Palestine’s mini tech park. It was launched as an attempt to create a microcosm of a functioning entrepreneurial ecosystem for technology entrepreneurs in Palestine, through providing a set of community activities, coupled with programmes that provide direct support to technology startups and existing small companies through both hosting and acceleration.
- 131 training events, 2500 attendants, with a 33% female participation rate
- 250 jobs were created
- $320,000 were provided for our ten previously accelerated startups as a cash investment
- $500,000 as in-Kind investment
- $2.2M additional capital was raised for other eZone portfolio companies