Fostering a Stronger Entrepreneurial Ecosystem - The International Conference on Entrepreneurship – Palestine
Bethlehem, Palestine, Dec. 14, 2020 – The annual International Conference on Entrepreneurship – Palestine (ICEP) brought together leading industry experts, public sector representatives and an array of some of Palestine’s most innovative and successful tech entrepreneurs to delve into the intricacies and potential of the country’s developing ecosystem.
The ICEP is an international conference that showcases the strides tech startups are making in Palestine today and provides a platform in which up-and-coming self-starters can engage with experts and seasoned entrepreneurs to learn what it takes to make it local and international markets. This year’s event showcased 24 startup pitches, brought together over 30 national and international industry experts from over ten countries on a global scale, and included the presence of over 90 startups as panelists and attendees.
Unfortunately, due to the precautionary measures held to curb the spread of COVID-19, the event was held virtually. Despite this, an impressive lineup of panelists consisting of mentors, change-makers, and startups, as well as attendees convened via zoom to make the event a success.
Prime Minister of Palestine, HE Dr. Mohamad Shtayyeh, opened the event a conveyed the country’s dedication to supporting entrepreneurship and fostering a new generation of innovators to help transform the socio-economic reality faced by thousands and create a more equitable future for all. Moderators included Managing Partner at Wamda Capital Fadi Ghandour, Chief Strategic Engagements and & Investor Relations Officer at the bank of Palestine Group Kamel Husseini, and Senior Partner-Director at McKinsey and Company Eric Hazan, to name a few.
Notable speakers and panelists included Hashim Shawa, Chairman of the Bank of Palestine Group, H.E. Usama Sadawi, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Empowerment, Roberto Croci Regional managing Director at Microsoft for Startups from the Middle East & Africa, Sam Daoud Director of Product Management at Amazon, and Lana Abu Hijleh, President at Global Communities and Chairwomen at Intersect Innovation Hub, were among over 20 global speakers attending the event.
Topics discussed ranged from Palestine growing innovation ecosystem and how to create an enabling environment conducive to startup growth, startup funding in Palestine, outsourcing, and a dialogue with top Silicon Valley executives and founders. The event also showcased Palestine’s fastest-growing tech startups that are gaining traction on a global scale. Furthermore, the founders of Gamiphy, Tawazon App, weDeliver, and Amal Work were among a host of entrepreneurs pitching their startups during the event.
One of the more notable discussions relayed during the event revolved around the benefits and challenges of outsourcing tech services to Palestine based startups. The conversation brought to attention that in order to enhance the country’s outsourcing appeal, multinational corporations need to set up shop in Palestine. Not only will this help diversify markets and potentially bring in lucrative outsourcing opportunities, but it will also act as a catalyst to the development of the local innovation and startup ecosystem.
Embracing your inner entrepreneur and establishing a successful startup is no easy feat, which is why the panel of experts spoke at length about the challenges Palestinian entrepreneurs are facing. While funding is instrumental to the establishment and growth of a startup, one of the main challenges that came up repeatedly during the event was the need to access markets outside of Palestine, which is necessary for startups to scale and achieve long-term viability.
Another important topic discussed which is embedded into the core values at MENACatalyst is the importance of improving the visibility of Palestinian-led startups by sharing stories that highlight not only the success but impact local startups are having inside and outside of Palestine.
Ultimately, the importance of events like the ICEP cannot be overstated. They provide a platform for local startups and up-and-coming entrepreneurs to learn from world-leading professionals and industry experts that have access to markets, networks of support, and the knowledge which is in high demand by emerging Palestine talent.