Entrepreneurship tends to be a profession dominated by men, especially when considering entrepreneurship in the Middle East. However, in Palestine, women are becoming leaders in their startups and communities. 

This November, 20 student entrepreneurs in the Palestinian Territories began an intensive three-day “business bootcamp” to help them accelerate their startup ideas. The programme, launched by the SANAD Fund for MSME (SANAD) and SPARK, culminated in a pitching event for the students to present their business models to a panel of representatives from industry and finance.

Over the course of the programme, the students – hailing from three local universities – developed their proposals according to the Business Model Canvas, taking into consideration aspects such as feasibility, sustainability and the surrounding market. They trained their pitching skills in preparation for the final event on November 10, where the top five winners were selected. All winners were business women.  

Nancy AlZaghal from Palestine Polytechnic University had developed a unique business adapted to the Palestinian context that uses hydroponic systems‏ to farm plants. Using this strategy she will save vast quantities of water, produce large quantities of good crops in a short period of time, without the need for large swathes of land. Nayrouz Najen Aldden from Birzeit University became a winner for her business idea: Pal Care, a medical and home nursing health service including rentable medical equipment for home rehabilitation. Amal Hamed, also from Birzeit University, won for her mobile app and medical center for diagnosing and treating speech disorders among children between 1-5 years old. Nur ElHuda Abdallah’s winning business idea , ‘AIon’ is a customized fashion design studio and self-custom fashion web platform. Finally, Layla Hamouri, a student at Palestine Polytechnic University, had conceptulaised her business,  ‘Injez’, a mobile app andwebsite that offers university students services to  reach their desired tutorial links for assignments and projects.

The student entrepreneurs will now work for six months with seasoned advisors from business incubators at Birzeit University, Palestine Ahliyya University and Palestine Polytechnic University. They will develop their financial plans, validate their business model assumptions, strengthen their overall business skills, and connect with investors.

Ines Ebrecht, Chair of the SANAD Entrepreneurship Academy, said: “Entrepreneurs hold the key to economic development and employment in the Palestinian Territories. As a fund dedicated to supporting micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in the Middle East and North Africa, SANAD is very pleased to be partnering with SPARK on giving young entrepreneurs the boost they need to establish sustainable, successful businesses in their community.” 

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