The global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps and Oasis500, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s premier early stage investment company and technology start-up accelerator program, have announced plans to jointly accelerate up to six technology start-ups this fall. The partnership, which launched at the third annual Gaza Startup Weekend (22-24 August), will be implemented through Gaza Sky Geeks, a business accelerator created by Mercy Corps.
“Gaza Sky Geeks plays an important role in the rapidly expanding technology entrepreneurship network in Gaza,” said John Ross, digital economy program director at Mercy Corps. “Oasis500’s involvement gives us the expertise, funding, and network to take Gazan startups to the next level. Their acceleration program is virtually unmatched in the region, and we’re thrilled to bring it to Gaza.”
Gaza Sky Geeks was initially funded as part of Mercy Corps’ regional Arab Developer Network Initiative through a generous donation from Google in 2011. Beginning in October, startups will be invited to participate in the Oasis500 acceleration process, spending two months each in Jordan and Gaza.
“Our goal is to equip entrepreneurs with the skills they need to build and run fast-growth technology companies,” said Dr. Usama Fayyad, Executive Chairman of Oasis500. “While the youth in Gaza currently face the highest unemployment in the region, we believe our work with Mercy Corps can help unlock their potential to launch companies that create thousands of new jobs and inspire others to do the same.”
Each startup team will receive $14,000 of working capital from Oasis500, as well as advanced technical and business training and access to a global network of mentors to help them refine their business plans and investor presentations. Oasis500 will take a 10-15% equity stake in each company, and Gaza Sky Geeks will receive a 50% equity stake at the time of exit to cover future operating expenses.
About Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps helps people turn the crises they confront into the opportunities they deserve. Driven by local needs, our programs provide communities in the world’s toughest places with the tools and support they need to transform their own lives. Our worldwide team in over 40 countries is improving the lives of 19 million people.
About Oasis500:Oasis500 is the first development and investment company of its kind in the MENA region. It aims to support entrepreneurs by providing them with funding and training in an effort to accelerate the transformation of business ideas into start-up companies in the ICT, digital media, and mobile technologies and content sectors. Oasis500 aims to facilitate the launch of 500 start-up companies within the next five years, which will create an incentive for aspiring entrepreneurs and generate job opportunities within the world’s fastest growing sectors. For more information, see www.oasis500.com