Kick-Starting a New Wave of Sustainable Virtual Businesses in East-Jerusalem

Kick-Starting a New Wave of Sustainable Virtual Businesses in East-Jerusalem
17 Jun 2021
Kick-Starting a New Wave of Sustainable Virtual Businesses in East-Jerusalem

To address East-Jerusalem’s disparate economic ecosystem, MENACatalyst launched, Empowering Youth Through Digital Skills Development to enhance young Palestinians access to the labor market. This German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH funded program provided participating self-starters with the strategic resources and support needed to launch their own home-based business.

To this end, 14 aspiring self-starters joined our virtual incubator to participate in a series of capacity-building activities and specialized training services provided by leading industry professionals from inside and outside of Palestine. Mentorship was also a key component of incubation to ensure that self-starters received unlimited access to experts to guide and support them through the process of ideating, incubating, and launching home-based ventures that are market-ready.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all training, mentorship, and workshops were conducted virtually via zoom to ensure the safety and well-being of project participants, trainers, MC staff, and partners working on the implementation of the program.

The first phase of the program culminated in the launch of 14 innovative home-based businesses. Launched businesses ranged from virtual therapy, at-home workout videos, handicrafts, contemporary fashion brands, and digital marketing solutions, to name a few.

“I have learned so much about starting my own business from MENACatalyst. The most important things revolve around how to launch and manage a virtual e-shop and how to market my products through social media to reach and appeal to a larger customer base inside and outside of Palestine.” - Noura program participant.

Ultimately, the project proved to be a success, and our virtual approach allowed us to reach and impact project beneficiaries on multiple levels. For starters, participants from remote areas who would otherwise be unable to commute regularly and attend training activities, networking events, and mentorship sessions joined from the comfort of their homes. 

On another level, our virtual approach allowed us to tap into the diverse and dynamic professional backgrounds of our global team of mentors, business enablers, and industry experts to deliver impactful guidance, knowledge-sharing, and market insight to project participants to help them acquire the competitive skills needed to thrive as self-starters. 

“MENACatalyst believed in me and helped me lay the foundation for my project. What began as a simple idea on a piece of paper is now being developed into a fully-fledged business thanks to all the support I received through this program. I was able to learn more about the practical and operational aspects of starting a business and in the long-term what it takes to grow and reach new markets.” - Hamzeh program participant.