As MBA students, we get 5 weeks in spring to do a Global Consulting Project (GCP) for companies and organizations worldwide. Our team, comprising Axel Wittmann (Austria), Lola Adebanji (South Africa), Yutaro Kojima (Japan) and me (Israel), is doing a consulting project for Google, who is partnering with Mercy Corps (NGO) on the Arab Developer Network Initiative (ADNI). The project is geared towards training and mentoring Palestinian software developers to build and monetize mobile and web applications . Our goal is to develop an implementation plan for rolling out the initiative in the Palestinian Territories, in a way that will be scalable to other Arab countries.
How the project came about
In addition to having a great project experience and working with a leading company, I wanted to use the GCP opportunity to make a real difference. Passionate about peace building in the Middle East through business and entrepreneurship, I pitched the consulting project to Megan Smith, Google’s VP of New Business Development and Director of Google.org, when she spoke at the Silicon Valley Comes to Cambridge event in November 2010. Megan connected me with Gisel Kordestani (Hiscock), Google’s Director of New Business Development, who is passionate about business development in the Middle East, and our team was commissioned to work on ADNI.
Between London, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza…
Our team has met with a wide range of stakeholders from the technology and business communities in London, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories, to gain insights for the ADNI training, mentorship and seed funding models. We have surveyed and interviewed Palestinian software developers to better understand their needs. Palestinian software entrepreneurs face challenges that resemble a kaleidoscope. The deeper you dig into the picture, the more fragmented and complex the reality you find, but at the same time, twisting and turning the device can reveal amazing shapes and opportunities. These are exciting times for the Palestinian ICT ecosystem. Sadara, the first Venture Capital fund to invest in technology ventures in the West Bank, was launched this month and large U.S. technology companies, including Google, Cisco, HP, Intel Medicor and Salesforce.com, are showing real commitment to ICT business development in the Palestinian Territories through investing in PITI (Palestinian Information Communications Technology Capacity Building Initiative). ADNI is all about leveraging these recent developments and enhancing the ecosystem of Arab software developers through training, mentoring and funding of early-stage startups.