Gaza Sky Geeks is attempting to harness the entrepreneurial spirit amongst the isolated youth in Gaza. The tech company has received a $900,000 grant for start-ups from Google along with landing modern Gaza City offices thanks to help from Mercy Corps.
The economic arm of Mercy Corps promotes ICT – Information Communications and Technology education for people in Gaza.
While the slow economy in Gaza along with strict Egyptian and Israeli export controls make for bad business, the hi-tech potential is higher thanks to the industry not being hampered by barriers that are physical in nature.
Both mobile based and web application are easily sold or used outside of Gaza without the need for the exporting of any products.
The conditions making life difficult in Gaza have also contributed to a youth population that is unusually savvy on the Web. The restrictions socially on woman that prevent females from leaving home after school, a lack of ability to travel from Gaza and an unemployment rate that is very high amongst people 15 to 29 years old all means that the younger population spend an very high volume of time on the Web.
The Geeks are now launching the first hi-tech accelerator in Gaza so more start-ups can develop into new successful businesses while at the same time provide a bigger market for the nearly 2,000 students at the university level who graduate annually with ICT degrees and for the most part cannot find work in their field.
Later in June, the Geeks will have a camp for hopeful grantees. Six teams then will be chosen amongst the participants at the camp and awarded grants worth between $15,000 and $20,000. Then they will have three months of time to use the Geeks’ facilities to complete their start up. The Geeks will then organize a demo for possible investors for the six teams.