Wednesday March 4, 2015

Ramallah, Palestine

Seven Palestinian entrepreneurs who took part in the Welfare Association’s FastForward business accelerator program presented their businesses, progress to date and plans for the future.

Shaher Husein is a Palestinian from the diaspora; he cofounded BareedEE, a services company that is helping individuals and companies order and track mail parcels online.

Mahmoud Jrere, a well-known Hip-Hop musician started a platform Indiepush where independent musicians can connect directly with their fans and reach out to new supporters via social media.

Mohammad Abu Qare, a graduate from Birzeit University; founded Fadfid to enable individuals in the MENA region to access quality therapy and psychological services online, with guaranteed confidentiality.

RedCrow Intelligence, cofounded by Hussein Nasser-Eddin and Laila Akel, is currently in the process of testing and refining its risk mitigation product in collaboration with several embassies, as well as seeking investment from venture capital funds.

Zoorna founded by Mohammad Al-Jamal, an Electrical Engineering graduate, is a tour-journal mobile app with a Geo-tagging functionality that enables tourists to record their trip to a certain destination in the form of an itinerary placed on the map.

Daleeli is a social media integrated, sightseeing guide application which focuses on the MENA region.  It was cofounded by Nasser Zalmout and Mohammed Qamhieh.

Swipt is a ‘customized loyalty solution’ for small to medium-sized enterprises that provides customers with incentives for shopping regularly at their favorite outlets, it was founded by Mohammed Amleh.

Entrepreneurs, who are at different stages of their business plans, have ventured into drastically different sectors. They all have one thing in common; they are young entrepreneurs with an unwavering passion and dedication to their start-up ideas.

As participants of the FastForward Accelerator, they are now equipped with the knowledge and connections needed required to upscale their enterprises.

FastForward is Palestine’s first startup accelerator program. Established in 2013, FastForward provides aspiring Palestinian entrepreneurs with the support they need to succeed in the global market. FastForward is funded by the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID); OFID partnered with the Welfare Association and Leaders Organization to implement the program.

FastForward entrepreneurs receive a seed investment of USD 20,000, project-based mentorship from a seasoned pool of knowledgeable entrepreneurs, prime office space and office resources, and access to a network of expert business advisors and a library of educational materials. Within a 120-day period, FastForward entrepreneurs transform new tech ideas into viable, competitive businesses.  So far, it has supported 10 startups with innovative business ideas.

As FastForward came to the closing pages of its first chapter, Leaders Organization arranged an event to announce the start-ups that have participated in the acceleration program. During the day, a diverse group of passionate FastForward entrepreneurs shared their entrepreneurial journeys and future plans with various representatives of Palestine’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. In attendance were the World Bank and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) among other ecosystem players that joined to learn more about FastForward’s innovative model and the entrepreneurs’ experiences.

FastForward has proven to be a successful and sustainable model for creating job opportunities for Ramallah’s youth. The Welfare Association plans on partnering with local associations to replicate the FastForward model in Gaza and across the West Bank, to turn young Palestinians’ dreams into reality