It’s been said often that perseverance is the key to success in the region, especially in Palestine. Yet while options for funding are growing, sometimes perseverance alone is not enough. Fortunately in Palestine, entrepreneurs now have another leg up. The Najjad Zeenni Information Technology Center of Excellence (NZITCE) at Birzeit University has recently launched a Venture Funding Match Making Program to help small and medium enterprises reach investors. NZITCE created the program in collaboration with the BiD Network, an international organization that connects emerging market entrepreneurs to investors.
It’s essentially a two-tier process, explained George Khadder, a business consultant for the program and co-founder of Peeks, a grassroots organization aimed at empowering technology entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs apply to the match-making program, and he works to prepare their business plans for submission to the BiD Network to garner international support.
“We are like a pre-application process,” he explained. “Anyone can go onto the BiD Network and submit an application, but no one who has applied thus far from Palestine has been accepted. One applicant was approved, but no one has completed the entire process and received funding. We work as local partners to provide coaching tailored to a local audience.”
Twenty entrepreneurs have applied to the Venture Fund Match Making Program thus far, and Khadder says they’re hoping to get another 12-15 to apply by December. Creating this bridge is part of a broader agenda to create a knowledge-based economy in Palestine.
“There are some foundational elements that are needed here- specifically more funding sources and coaching," said Khadder. "Finding funding in Palestine is getting easier- we now have two private equity firms (Riyada Enterprise Development and Siraj Fund), and one venture capital firm (Sadara Ventures) investing in small and medium businesses. Our ultimate goal with the match-making program is to strengthen connections between our entrepreneurs and funders- both in Palestine, and around the world.”
For more information, check out the NZITCE website.