USAID’s Compete Project signs an agreement to enable an Arabreneur fund for Palestinian entrepreneurs that draws in foreign investment

June 16, 2013 – USAID’s Compete project signed an agreement with Dawliah Investment to support greater entrepreneurship and innovation in the Palestinian Territories through the creation of an Angel Investor/Seed Fund. The Arabreneur fund is unique because it supports young Palestinian entrepreneurs to grow startups, spurring employment and fostering an environment of creativity. The entrepreneurs will be provided with investment, facilities, mentors and working spaces in locations in the Palestinian Territories and other locations in the MENA Region that include Jordan and Dubai, to set grow and accelerate their companies.

USAID Compete Project’s ICT sector lead Mustafa Deeb notes, “Palestinian entrepreneurs need help in bringing their company concept to market. We believe that the seed fund will accelerate this process and support local companies to get to market faster.” In the first year the program will support a minimum of 10 startups resulting in 50 – 100 new jobs in the emerging Palestinian ICT sector.
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“For years USAID has worked with the ICT sector to implement programs that include skill-building, creating new jobs and linkages with international expertise all with the aim of propelling Palestinian firms to compete at a global level,” says Ghassan Al-Jamal, USAID Project Development Specialist-Private Enterprise Office/USAID West Bank and Gaza. “Today we’re proud to launch Arabreneur to support increased international investment in Palestinian entrepreneurs. One of our goals is to see the services and products of Palestinian entrepreneurs reach international markets as was the case in Jordan where Yahoo Inc. invested $170 Million USD in Jordanian company Maktoob in order to help it to better connect to the Middle East market through Maktoob’s existing user base. Maktoob now employs about 280 people throughout the region. We know Palestinian entrepreneurs are also ready to be on the global stage.”

The Arabreneur initiative has two key elements: first, it will establish a co-working space in the Palestinian Territories for entrepreneurs. In these furnished spaces highly experienced mentors from the MENA network will provide specialized business support. The second component is the establishment of an Arabreneur Seed Fund and Angel Network that will facilitate global exposure and investment for Palestinian companies. Investment per start-up will be in the range of $50,000-150,000 USD covering a gap that currently exists.

“Various incubators are operational in the Palestinian Territories, what is required is to continue investments in successful entrepreneurs to continue their venture through Seed and Angel investment to get their products to market and grow their business to become ready for VC funding. We know the Palestinian market is prime for this kind of investment.

We have been working in Jordan and Dubai for two years and made 15 investments in start-ups, some of them are Palestinian start-ups. Now we start our operation in the Palestinian territories and we will capitalize on our partnerships around the globe to open the way for Palestinian Start Ups to make it to global markets.” notes Abdul Malek Jaber, Chairman and Founder, Arabreneur.

Operations to establish the Arabreneur initiative in the Palestinian Territories will commence within a month of signing the agreement.