Palestine International Conference for Entrepreneurship ICEP 2.0 closed yesterday its marathon sessions with speakers representing thought leaders, innovation experts, business leaders, development agencies, tech multinationals, investors, startups, entrepreneurs from USA, Europe, MENA, including, UAE, Germany, UK, France,Jordan, Norway, Japan, Switzerland, and Palestine.
The conference covered the Ecosystem for Innovation, the Funding Map, the R&D/Outsourcing potential, the Startup Generation in Palestine,Startup Pitches, closing with a Special Dialogue with Silicon Valley. Program included a session hosted by the World Economic Forum on the role the 4th Industrial Revolution is playing in socio economic fabric.
In his opening speech at the online conference, HE Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh,the prime minister of the state of Palestine, announced the upcoming reform of the companies’ laws to include special facilitation for startups for ease of doing business working with the World Bank and IFC. He stressed the government’s work on creating a vocational university and coding training program to prepare the young generation into self-employed generation building on the innate resilience and innovative of Palestinian minds and youth. The speech of the PM came during the opening session with the 3 Co-Chairs of the Conference.
“This is the first time we are able to gather such a distinguished panel of speakers from diverse backgrounds, important positions and countries. This is because of the success of the first conference, the partnership between government, private sector and international organizations in convening this event, plus the energy of the global shapers and community of entrepreneurs in Palestine. We are active and inclusive players in the innovative ecosystem and we have to lead in the digital transformation of the country,” said Hashim Shawa, Chairman of Bank of Palestine Group, one of the Co-Chairs of the conference.
Samer Khoury, Co-Chair of the conference and Chairman of CCC in Athens said “the talent and level of professionalism of Palestinian ICT engineers is excellent, they are now attracting hundreds of outsourcing jobs from international companies; we feel the movement, we see the ideas of startup companies, we see the passion of a new generation. This is why we sponsor the conference, to increase awareness, to support the future of youth, women, the hope of Palestine.”
“Last year I brought 130 German, French and other European companies, investors and entrepreneurs to ICEP 1.0 in Bethlehem. Everyone was pleasantly shocked at the level of energy and freshness of the startups. Everyone wanted to come back this year and bring another company. That is why I am happy to Co-chair ICEP 2.0 online with our Palestinian and International partners, to keep the momentum and build more bridges”, said Steffi Czerny, Senior Advisor to Hubert Burda Media and Co-Chair of the Conference.
Minister of Entrepreneurship and Empowerment, HE Mr. Usama Sadawi, pledged the fact that his ministry will be a one stop shop for solving problems for the entrepreneurs and will be receptive to their issues working with all the partners locally and internationally to ensure a friendly eco system for the young generation of entrepreneurs in Palestine.
Youssef Habesch, IFC’s Resident Representative in West Bank and Gaza, had the following to say on their institutional partnership on behalf of the IFC: “As IFC, we were among the first to sponsor ICEP last year and we are proud to continue this partnership because we believe that innovative, forward-looking entrepreneurs and robust private sector are key for sustainable economic development. We are committed to support the Palestinian startups to spread their reach to regional markets and globally.”
“As the World Bank, our foremost interest is to help the private sector by supporting enabling environment reforms, skills development and providing financial and technical assistance to startups and SMEs to allow them to grow and create jobs. Digital economy, innovation, tech have become a focus of the World Bank support, as a path to a sustainable and resilient Palestinian economy, and where we see a lot of opportunities and an untapped talent. This focus is even more important given how Covid-19 crisis accelerated the adoption of digital technologies and the need for the digital transformation for a country to stay competitive in the future”, said Kanthan Shankar, World Bank Country Director for West Bank and Gaza.
Ammar Aker, CEO of Paltel Group said“As leaders in the ICT sector and connectors of youth in their social media and communication platforms, we feel the energy, the impatience of the digital generation. We will continue to work with partners to provide the infrastructure support, and spur innovation through investments and mentorship of our creative entrepreneurs.”
The second edition of the conference was held under the auspices of H.E. the Prime Minster of Palestine, represented by H.E Minister of Entrepreneurship & Empowerment, in cooperation with the Global Shapers Hubs in Palestine (a community of the World Economic Forum), and in partnership with Bank of Palestine Group, Consolidated Contractors Company, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and Paltel Group, with the support of Hubert Burda Media – Germany.