Today in Palestine, entrepreneurs and startups ask for support throughout the entire process of converting their ideas into sustainable businesses. Palestinian entrepreneurs are in need of, for example, business training, systemic coaching, access to information and finance. Therefore, the goal of this programme which started in 2016 is to facilitate the creation of micro, small and medium sized enterprises through incubation. More so, this programme enhances their skills in becoming more competitive and financially sustainable.
Key to success are six regional – existing – incubators in Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus, Jeruzalem and Gaza. Programme activities will allow for the full application of not only the past experience and lessons learnt of these incubators, but also the real-time feedback of existing manpower and structures established in these six locations.
After strengthening their capacity the incubators will in turn reach out to ambitious Palestinian entrepreneurs and give them a chance to start their business. In the incubators the entrepreneurs are trained and coached, and a selection receives guidance through the pre-incubation and the incubation phase. The participating entrepreneurs will eventually be able to translate their creative ideas into viable businesses.
The Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) is a specific place in the world with tensions and conflicts that have culminated throughout the centuries. Enduring conflict between Palestinians and Israeli has divided the Palestinian territory into three areas: East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian territory is formally under Israeli occupation with only partial control of Palestinian Authorities on the minor part of the territory. In the West Bank, the occupation manifests itself in extensive movement restrictions, including permits, checkpoints, roadblocks, bypass roads, and control of all imports and exports.
As a result, the Palestinian economy suffers much of these restrictions and is facing a severe fiscal crisis, high unemployment and significant number of people living under poverty line. A serious concern is the high level of youth unemployment that is accompanied by low youth participation in the labour force.
In the last six years SPARK has focused all its efforts on developing a vibrant private sector in the region focusing on supporting entrepreneurs in OPT. For example with the MFS2 ‘entrepreneurship’ programme, through local partners (such as youth organisations, women entrepreneurs associations, universities, business incubators etc.) SPARK supported job creation and entrepreneurship development. We continue to do so with the BSIS programme.
Recently SPARK has started implementing the Dynamic Futures Programme, in partnership with Al Fakhoora, which is part of the Education Above All foundation. During this pilot phase, 50 full undergraduate scholarships have been awarded. SPARK will also be working with the 50 students on intensive leadership civic engagement and entrepreneurship trainings during the next four years.