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No host - Mercy Corps: Entrepreneurialism and The Middle East

Join author and internet-venture investor Christopher Schroeder and Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer in a conversation about the astonishing numbers of young, talented tech-savvy entrepreneurs in the Middle East. While creating a new business culture they are attracting investors like Google and Intel. Hear Schroeder's personal stories from his own travels through the area and Keny-Guyer's insight drawn from Mercy Corps programs in technology entrepreneurship that help talented youth in difficult places build a better future.

 

Author and internet investor Christopher Schroeder spent three years traveling to Dubai, Cairo, Amman, Beirut, Istanbul, and even Damascus, talking to men and women involved with tech start-ups. Former publisher of Washington Post's Newsweek Interactive, Schroeder was struck by the tech-savvy talent that defied preconceptions about the region -- such as the five young high school women who won a competition with a solar powered charging station created with solar panels they built themselves. The charging stations were used to replace the kerosene lamps in tent communities with battery-based lanterns — fire was a great hazard in that community.

Schroeder saw thousands of successful and daring entrepreneurs willing to face cultural, legal, and societal barriers. He also witnessed major private equity firms, venture capitalists, and tech companies like Google, Intel, Cisco, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and PayPal making significant investments, despite instability in the region.

Schroeder's recent book Startup Rising (August, 2013, Palgrave Macmillan), offers a timely look at tech start ups in the Middle East— a development that may place the region at the center of innovation and progress.

“Interest in entrepreneurship in the Middle East has never been greater, which reflects the critical role that new ventures can play in catalyzing economic change in the region. This book provides a lively look at the individuals and institutions behind these exciting and important developments" (Josh Lerner, Harvard Business School).

In light of Mercy Corps' programs in tech and entrepreneurship that help talented youth in difficult places build a better future, Schroeder is joined by Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer, who will highlight programs that promote the IT sector in Gaza and the West Bank. One such program is Gaza Sky Geeks, a business accelerator created by Mercy Corps and Rogue Venture Partner that provides startups in Gaza with access to the expertise, funding, and networks they need to take their businesses to the next level.

Despite being among the highest educated in the Arab world, Palestinian youth face chronic unemployment. Youth unemployment in Gaza stands at 58%, more than twice the regional average. As the technology sector has a growing demand for localized content, there is a tremendous market opportunity right now for developers who are fluent in Arabic. Arabic speakers make up about 5% of the global population, yet very little content and few applications on the internet are currently available in Arabic. The hundreds of Gazan youth who graduate each year with a degree in information and communications technology (ICT) have an untapped opportunity to help grow this sector.

Gaza Sky Geeks is just one part of Mercy Corps’ broader efforts to empower young people across the Middle East and North Africa to generate employment and new economic opportunity through technologies linking them with the global marketplace.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Dear Anyone, Wasn't able to attend last night wonderful event. If someone went and was willing to share information, I'd be more than happy to spring for afternoon coffee/tea/treats at La Provence in Lake O for an update. If Peter's available he can join in. I hope all is well with his family. Barbara

    January 31, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      Hey Christopher, Are you volunteering to share you're experience at the event re: Middle East?

      February 1, 2014

  • Bev

    An excellent talk! I learned a lot.

    January 30, 2014

  • Jess S.

    Peter, I hope your daughter's injuries are minimal and that she has a full and speedy recovery.

    1 · January 30, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Peter - take care of your daughter and hope she is fine.

    1 · January 30, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    A maybe due to travel, depends on when plane lands.

    January 29, 2014

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