On Palestinian startups
By Laith Kassis
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About this op-ed’s author:
Laith Kassis is referred to by some as the Palestinian startup ecosystem’s “OG”.
He was a Business Incubation Consultant for the World Bank, founded Palestine’s Technopark, and was the managing director of Fikra Innovation Hub, a Palestinian corporate entrepreneurship program at Paltel Group.
He now runs EnterVentures, a boutique consulting firm specializing in MENA’s innovation ecosystem. He is a mentor to many Palestinian founders.
He and his family are also in the wine-making business with their own vineyards in the town of Birzeit, through their very own Domaine Kassis.
Israel’s ongoing carpet-bombing of Gaza has halted the Strip’s embryonic tech scene. While violence has also spurred in the occupied West Bank, a glimpse of hope remains for Palestinian startups.
I wish that my learnings from more than a decade in the ecosystem can serve as fuel to that glimmer of optimism.
My thoughts are divided into three distinct categories:
(i) what the ecosystem’s donor-dominance means
(ii) 2 potential ways a Palestinian startup can succeed
(iii) why diaspora engagement has failed