Our Story

The First Tech Hub in Gaza

GSG was launched with the recognition that consistent access to high-speed fiber internet could allow Gaza’s highly educated youth to side-step many of the current restrictions on the movement of people and goods that hamper the Gazan economy.

Founded in 2011 in partnership with Google and the international NGO Mercy Corps, we began by holding the first Startup Weekends in Gaza and expanding education about tech entrepreneurship. In 2014, we began working with individual startup founders to grow their businesses outside of Gaza and to develop our own incubation curriculum. In 2014 and 2015, we facilitated the first venture investments into Gazan startups.

Today, GSG is the leading co-working space, startup accelerator, and technology education hub in Gaza. We bring together online freelancers, outsourcers, and startup founders together under one roof to share ideas, learn, innovate, code, and geek out!

Our Partners

APIC logo
Bank of Palestine logo
Paltel Group logo
Konrad Adenauer Stiftung logo
NBC logo
Techstars foundation logo
The Coca Cola Foundation logo
Vitol Foundation logo
Angelhack logo
Bayt logo
Github logo
Ibtikar Fund logo
Shared Studios logo
Transition Czech Republic logo
Skoll foundation logo

Our Team

Ryan Sturgill
GSG Director
Ryan Sturgill is the Director of Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG), the first startup accelerator and full-stack coding academy in Gaza, and a joint project of Google and Mercy Corps. Ryan joined GSG in 2015, building on a career in investment facilitation and international social entrepreneurship, particularly across frontier markets. Previously, he helped establish a startup incubator in Afghanistan with support from Google and has advised small businesses on operations and financial strategy in Palestine, the UAE, Iraq, and Pakistan. He has analyzed, structured, and managed investments for The Abraaj Group, a growth markets private equity firm, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, a major lender to small businesses around the globe. He began his career in J.P. Morgan’s healthcare, consumer, and retail investment banking group in New York. Ryan holds a bachelor’s in Middle East studies from Georgetown, an MBA from MIT, and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School. He is an avid runner and enjoys snowboarding and scuba diving every chance he gets.
Anam Raheem
Tech Education Manager
Anam is the Tech Education Manager at GSG. She oversees the strategy and implementation of the Code Academy - Palestine’s first full stack coding bootcamp - in Gaza and the West Bank. Anam also leads GSG’s Women’s Inclusivity work, ensuring that women are equally represented and equitably supported in our co-working space and training programs. Anam joined the GSG team as a volunteer in 2016 and officially as a full-time employee in Palestine in 2017. She has a passion and background in supporting entrepreneurship in emerging markets. She started her career at Vital Voices, a women’s leadership NGO, where she supported the design and launch of an accelerator program for women-owned businesses across the globe. Anam has also been a grants manager at the Aga Khan Foundation, overseeing multi-million dollar rural development and civil society programs in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. Anam holds a BA from Georgetown University in Linguistics and has studied Arabic at the University of Jordan.
Kevin Gomis
Operations Manager
Kevin comes to the GSG team with over 10 years experience in finance and consultancy roles in the Big 4 and various commercial organizations in Sydney, Australia. An urge to work abroad and in the development sector, a keen interest in fin-tech and the MENA region, he found his way by luck and great fortune to GSG. Making his contribution as Operations Manager, GSG has been the perfect fit for a change in career path whilst working toward a vital cause.
Rand Safi
Program Officer -
Rand, based in Ramallah, joined the team to support GSG’s expansion to the West Bank. Rand focuses on building relationships with local partners to strategically transplant GSG programs and initiatives to the West Bank in a collaborative way. Rand also supports community-building efforts via GSG’s Geek Labs initiative, coordinating outreach events, workshops, and mentorship for the GSG network in the West Bank. Rand has been with Mercy Corps since 2015, implementing vocational training and ICT programs. Rand is passionate about sharing knowledge and helping youth to find opportunities.
Iyad Altahrawi
Incubation & Acceleration Program Manager
As GSG's Incubation & Acceleration Program Manager, Iyad works closely with startup teams and mentors. He previously worked as an officer at Palestine Islamic Bank in Gaza, where he handled a range of issues related to financing, credit and customer care. Later, he worked at the Public Affairs and Communication Department at the Coca-Cola Company's U.S. headquarters, before moving on to work in Business Development for their European Partners in Germany. Iyad holds a BA in Computer Systems Engineering from Al-Azhar University in Gaza, and an MBA from the European Business school in Germany. There are two things that will make you an immediate best friend - talking about horses or saying that you love food!
Ghada Ibrahim
Code Academy Program Officer
A passion-driven Social Entrepreneur, Web Developer, and Architect. I work to achieve inclusivity, diversity and build impactful products that matter. I graduated from the first cohort of the Code Academy and mentored several cohorts after. I held the position of the academy’s Course Facilitator for 6 months and I’m currently a proud member of the GSG team working as the Code Academy Program Officer. I am responsible for the quality assurance of the course delivery, coordination, troubleshooting and support for current students, graduates, international facilitators and other community engagement activities served in that context.
Saed Habib
Freelance Program Manager - Gaza & West Bank
On a mission to help Palestine’s tech talents compete in the digital global economy to not only find jobs and income but also to build a positive and attractive reputation for digital outsourcing in Palestine Saed currently leads the Skylancer Program in Gaza and WB, Previously, Saed worked as a Full-Time Freelancer with over 60 international companies and successfully completed over 120 projects. He also worked as a Project Manager for a Norwegian company, where he managed their I.T projects and their development team. He graduated from the Islamic University of Gaza with a BA degree in Information Technology, during his studies he managed to work with international organizations such as MercyCorps as a Freelancing Mentor, World Health Organization as a Web development Intern, Unrwa as an Information Systems Assistant.
Dalia Shurrab
Social Media Coordinator
Dalia used to be a teacher, trainer, educational researcher and manager. Her first introduction to startups was when she worked with Wasselni, one of Gaza’s first funded startups, as a social media marketer. Dalia quickly fell in love with the spirit of entrepreneurism and first joined GSG as a volunteer social media and logistics member. She is currently the Palestine Chapter President of Arab WIC and an Ambassador of WiD in Palestine. She graduated from the Islamic University of Gaza with a BS in Physics and obtained an Education Diploma and a Media Diploma, along with courses in Business Administration. Dalia was chosen to represent Palestinian entrepreneurs at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi in 2015. At age 12, Dalia was the English-speaking spokes-child of Palestinian children and represented all Palestinians in front of the Women and Children Minister of Norway.
Ibrahim Kuhail
MEL Manager
Ibrahim is a well-dedicated and resourceful person with nine years of experience in monitoring and evaluation. Since joining Mercy Corps in 2011, Ibrahim has been working on various programs including Economic Development, ICT, Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship. His engagement with GSG spans to donors’ reporting, performance indicator development and analysis, M&E tools development, information management and data tracking & analysis. Ibrahim holds a BSc in Industrial Engineering, and Master of Business Administration as well as the number of professional certificates in leadership and quality.
Lina Ayesh
Client Relations Manager
Lina Ayesh is the client relation activity manager at GSG. She works in matching International clients search for talented developers, designers, and translator with the best talent in Gaza. Previously she worked as a digital marketing specialist in local and international companies, where she was managing marketing campaigns and implement marketing strategies. She holds a BA in Dentistry from the Al-Azhar University of Gaza. Lina is passionate about finding job opportunities for people in Gaza and help them in growing up their skills.
Mahmoud Khwaiter
Freelancing Program Coordinator
Mahmoud Khwaiter is the new Freelancing Program Coordinator at GSG/MercyCorps, supporting efforts to help online freelancers earn incomes. Mahmoud graduated from the Al-Azhar University of Gaza with a BA in English Literature, and while studying managed to work with various local and international organizations including the American Friends Services Committee, the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation and the Ministry of National Economy.
Yasmin Abo Omar
Mentorship Coordinator
Yasmin is the Mentorship Coordinator in GSG! She holds a BA in English literature. Previously, she worked as a theatre actress, drama trainer, and English teacher. She is a passionate reader and a keen learner who is always trying to learn a new thing. She taught herself English, French, and Violin! The thing she is most proud about is that she has friends in over 15 countries! A good song or a good book can always cheer Yasmin Up!
Mohammed Alfarra
Freelance and Community Assistant - South Gaza
Mohammed's first visit to GSG was to attend an English Club in April 2016. He was fascinated with the place and got attached ever since. He participated in the GSG incubation program as a content manager and co-founder of a startup called Keeflabs. He started learning digital marketing through online courses and with the help of GSG's international mentors who come to Gaza, he reached a professional level. He then joined the GSS Freelancing Academy's 1st cohort. Mohammed volunteered to help run the Saturday Freelancing Club. Then he officially joined the Freelancing program team. Mohammed is doing tremendous work helping people get started with online freelancing at the new GSG Tech Hub in South Gaza. Mohammed holds BA in English.
Nour Khoudary
Community Engagement Coordinator
Nour is first a mother of a wonderful 4 year-old and second the founder and CEO of MomyHelper, a mobile app that connects Arab mothers with parenting consultants. she is also a mentor and business consultant in Gaza. Founder of Innovation Camp which is is a pre-incubation initiative helps the participants to develop a great startup idea through developing research, innovation and design thinking skills. Nour worked and trained in the field of filmmaking and screenplay writing. She was the product manager of the first 3D animation film in Gaza, a project funded by the world bank. Now I joined Gaza Sky Geeks as a Community engagement coordinator.
Ismail Aziza
Logistics Coordinator
Ismail is a young entrepreneur from Gaza, a computer science student at the Islamic University of Gaza, and part of GSG's logistics team. His best buddy is his favorite instrument, the violin, which he has been playing for the past 2 years. He is passionate about voluntary and charity work and spent most of his school and university life supporting such initiatives. He's also interested in debates and helped in founding and running many big events in Gaza.
Asmaa Alkhaldi
Video Editor
Asmaa is a light chaser, colors-passionate, and music-obsessed. She’s a photographer, storyteller, filmmaker, writer, and architect. She joined the GSG family as the video editor. She is a freelance photojournalist, her work focuses on the human aspect, and the positivity behind every struggle. She believes that a story is never complete until it covers the struggle and hardships, the resilience, and the inspiring results of that struggle. “People’s stories and reactions inspire me a lot, they tell me how much we’re alike as humans regardless of how we look, what we believe in, or where we live." Asmaa's main goal of what she does is to tell everyone that "we’re all brothers and sisters in humanity”. Asmaa is a feminist who wants to show, through her work, how capable women are of creating miracles.
Shams Abu Hassanin
Graphic Designer
Shams understand how the power and potential of beauty and simple graphic design must be. She has a sharp eye for details and can make your thinking visually. Shams is the graphic designer for GSG, she is one of freelancing E-Work program graduates. Shams was selected to tell her participation story during the program in the final ceremony. And she was featured to talk to BBC news about the change that she made in her life after the training. Previously, she volunteered at the Islamic University of Gaza as a manager assistant in Academic Affairs. Then she works as a project coordinator at the same place in partnership with NORWAC institute. She studies Electrical Engineering at IUG. Shams interested in all new cultures, she searches for knowledge everywhere and for everything, she loves reading and discovering new things. “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” Shams believes deeply in this quote.
Hani Abu Rabei
Host
Hani is a veteran employee who has been working with Mercy Corps since 2011. Hani has a degree in Hotel Management and Tourism. He worked at many hotels, before becoming the best host to ever run our cafeteria and keep the GSG space squeaky clean at all times! For Hani, cooking is a passion and so everything he prepares in our cafeteria is deliciously filling!
Ahmed Al Rantisi
Performance and Quality Assurance - Freelance Program
Ahmed's role is essential to measure the progress of our participants. He focuses on delivering high-quality freelance training in Gaza and the west bank. Along with the GSG freelancing team, he makes sure that the freelance training is run smoothly enabling the GSG freelance trainees to hit the targets and achieve the deferent goals of each training. Before joining Mercy Corps, he used to work as a full-time freelancer in mathematical modelling and data analytics. Ahmed holds a BSc in physics, He is one of Al Fakhoora alumni and participated in deferent local and international conferences like the WISE summit in Doha, the NLG summit in Amman and Inspire in Gaza.
Aya Juma
Social Media Assistant
Aya is an active GSG community member. She has participated in several events and programs, volunteering with with social media coverage. Aya joined the team September 2018 to support in content writing and online promotion of GSG activities and events.

Nadia Abu Shabaan
Startup Acceleration Program Assistant
Nadia has been a volunteer at GSG since 2015, supporting GSG digital marketing efforts, events, and hackathons. In the second half of 2018, Nadia officially joined GSG as a full-time program assistant intern to support the startup programme.
Shatha Murra
Data and Learning Analyst
Shatha previously worked as a Finance Associate at Yamsafer, a successful Palestinian startup, before she joined the GSG team as a Data and Learning Analyst, where she leads impact analysis and data-driven learning for our various programmes. Shatha is a graduate of Birzeit University, where she majored in Economics.
Haneen Bader
Program Assistant
Haneen , based in Ramallah , joined the team as a Program Assistant to support GSG's expansion in the West Bank , she has five years of experience in the telecommunication sector. Before joining Mercy Corps, she was a Senior Consumer Segment Specialist at Jawwal where she developed, analysed and led both the execution and post-execution of tens of marketing campaigns and customer programs. In 2010, she joined MCW Global as a leadership mentee. In 2016, she became an MCW Global mentor, working with up-and-coming young entrepreneurs from around the world on polishing their business plans and organizational models. She is a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, actively engaged in the community’s Ramallah hub. She holds a B.Sc. in Business Economics from Birzeit University.
Mahmoud Al Madhoun
Operations and Logistics Assistant
Mahmoud is a Gazan Geek produced and originated!  Although he's always quiet and sluggish, he is a foremost portion of all the events have been done at GSG' space. A mug of Nescafe is a mere giveaway to start any conversation with him.
Matt Davis
Code Academy Technical Lead
A graduate of the Founders and Coders coding bootcamp in Nazareth, Matt Davis previously led the first cohort of GSG’s Code Academy course in the West Bank, before moving to his current role as Code Academy Technical Lead. In this role, Matt oversees technical curriculum development and quality control, as well as driving initiatives to improve Code Academy graduates’ employability in the global tech sector, and supporting the day to day running of the Academy. Matt has worked in the ‘Tech For Good’ sector in London, building prototype web applications for charities across the UK, and helped launch a start up with two other Founders and Coders graduates in 2018. He holds a Bachelors degree in Astrophysics from the University of Durham, and enjoys cooking, coding, and exploring Palestine when he is not at work.
Abdallah Khadra
Abdallah joined GSG as Business Development Assistant. He is responsible for SMEs project, to support ICT small and medium enterprise. In addition to that, he is working on Soft Skills Training for upgrading the skills of GSG programs' participants and graduates. Abdallah is a Computer and Communication Engineer with a Bachelor Degree from Al-Azhar University 2016. Abdallah is a book-warm, he is interested in reading history and human development sciences. If you have any questions about renting a desk/room at GSG for you, your freelancer friends or company, please make sure to reach him out.
Taysir Shaqalaih
Freelance Program Manager - South Gaza
A post-graduate of Engineering Department, Cambridge University, UK. Skilled in turning a big vision into operational reality, and always hungry for positive change, growth and new ideas that make a large-scale impact on people. Taysir is the mastermind of Mercy Corps' innovative “Online Freelancing” Program that helped thousands of Gazans to become employed online. Due to its large-scale success, the program was replicated by other local and international organizations using the same model developed by Taysir, and donors endorsed the online freelancing program as an important pillar for youth employment. During his 18+ years of experience, Taysir was able to develop exceptional expertise in several domains including business development, project management, operations management, marketing, capacity development, and entrepreneurship. His own dynamic and diverse career path with a clear focus on economic empowerment through online freelancing and business generation has been recognized both locally and globally. Currently, he is leading the freelancing program in the South Gaza.
Ibrahim hout
Community Engagement Coordinator
Ibrahim has a BS in Computer and Communication Engineering, he started his professional career as a Freelance Translator and Interpreter meanwhile he was interested in the software development industry and started his career as an android developer after he joined GSG technical training in its first cohort. Now, Ibrahim Works as the Community Engagement Coordinator, he leads the tech community of GSG and runs the technical training under the Freelance Academy as well as its Digital Agency. He is interested in Tech, movies, photograph and lots of other stuff, he is an easy-going person, and would always listen and help you.

Board of Advisors

Fadi Ghandour
Founder and Vice Chairman of Aramex, Executive Chairman of Wamda Ventures, Managing Partner of MENA Venture Investments
Fadi is also a board member of Abraaj Capital and Endeavor Global, along with being a member of the Advisory Council of the MIT Media Lab and Member of the Board of Trustees at the American University of Beirut (AUB). He is also one of the founding investors of Maktoob.com which was sold to Yahoo in 2009. He is the Founder and Chairman of Ruwwad for Development, and Chairman of Ruwwad Micro-Venture Fund, an equity-based fund providing seed capital and support for microbusinesses and micro-entrepreneurs.
Kamel Husseini
Managing Director of The Portland Trust infounder of Ellam Tam
Mr Husseini served as Ellam Tam’s Managing Director from 2000 to 2006 and as its Managing Partner from 2010 until July 2013. He was seconded from the company in April 2006 to act as CEO for the first Palestine Investment Conference to be held in Bethlehem. After the conference he served for four years as Vice President of Corporate, Investors and International Affairs for the Paltel Group where he oversaw the company’s Social Investment and Sustainability strategies. Prior to establishing Ellam Tam, he had six years of experience working in international fundraising, project development, international relations, public affairs and investment promotion. From 1991 to 1998 he was Head of International Relations and Private Sector Development at Orient House, the headquarters of the Palestinian team working on the Middle East Peace Process. In this role, he helped develop systems for protocol, diplomacy and international relations to serve2 the Palestinian negotiating team in Washington D.C. and Madrid. He also coordinated the relationship of the private sector with the World Economic Forum in Geneva from 1994 onwards. Mr Husseini later served as an Economic Financial consultant for three years with Arthur Andersen, working on a dedicated basis as Business Advisor for the Bethlehem 2000 Project (1998-2000), during which he conducted road shows in the US and Latin America. Mr Husseini attended the Global Leadership Executive education programme at Harvard Kennedy School (Boston) in 2011 and the Lee Quan Yu School of Public Policy (Singapore) in 2012. He holds a B.A./B.S. in Finance and International Relations and an MBA in International Business from the American University (Washington D.C.).
Badr Jafar
CEO of Crescent Enterprises and President of Crescent Petroleum
Badr Jafar is the CEO of Crescent Enterprises, a diversified global conglomerate which operates across four distinctive platforms to develop innovative, sustainable and profitable businesses, and President of Crescent Petroleum, the first independent and privately-owned petroleum company in the Middle East. He also serves as Chairman of Gulftainer, the largest privately-owned container port operator in the world, and Chairman of Pearl Petroleum, the largest natural gas producer in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Badr founded the Pearl Initiative, a non-profit organisation committed to promoting a corporate culture of transparency and accountability across the Gulf Region of the Middle East, in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Partnerships. He is a member of the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing, a member of the UNESCO International Commission on the Futures of Education, and a member of the Board of Overseers of the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Consistent with his interest in promoting social entrepreneurship in the MENA Region, Badr co-founded the Arab World Social Entrepreneurship Program (ASEP) with Ashoka, and is a member of the Synergos Arab World Social Innovators (AWSI) Board of Governors. He also serves on the Boards of Advisors of Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa) and Gaza Sky Geeks, and the Business Advisory Council of the American University of Sharjah. Badr was recognised as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2011 and is Co-Chair of the WEF Family Business Community and a member of the WEF Stewardship Board on Growth and Competitiveness. He has a Master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Cambridge and a Business Degree from the Cambridge Judge Business School.
Gisel Kordestani
Co-Founder and COO of Crowdpac
Gisel Kordestani is an entrepreneur and tech professional using her expertise to create positive change in the world. Gisel joined Mercy Corps’ board of directors after first meeting team members in Gaza in 2008. She had been trying to set up a Google Hackathon, a software programming competition, and found Mercy Corps to be the only team there that could achieve it. Today, Gisel serves as co-chair of Mercy Corps. With Mercy Corps, Gisel values being part of meaningful and important work that makes a positive impact on individual lives and large, complicated problems around the world. She is the co-founder and CEO of Crowdpac, a political platform that enables everyday citizens to engage in politics. Gisel formerly held a senior director position at Google, leading new business development. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from the American University in Paris and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Chris Schroeder
Entrepreneur, Advisor, and Investor
Named as one of LinkedIn’s first 50 Influencers, Christopher is an American entrepreneur, advisor and investor in interactive technologies and social communications. He has written the first look at startups in the Arab World, “Startup Rising — The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East”. Schroeder was the CEO and Publisher of washingtonpost.newsweek interactive and co-founder of the Silicon Valley startup HealthCentral.com, sold in 2012. He is an investor in Vox Media, Skift, Quibb, iBotta, Zignal labs among others, and in leading Silicon Valley venture capital funds. Schroeder graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard College and later graduated with Honors from Harvard Business School. He has also worked in finance and private equity. He serves on the board of advisers of the American University of Cairo School of Business, American University School of International Service, Oasis500, and the American Council on Germany. He is on the Investment Committee of The Wamda Fund, one of the largest venture capital funds in the Middle East. He has written extensively on startups and innovation and emerging growth markets and the Middle East for The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Fast Company, TechCrunch, Pando Daily, Business Insider among many others, and has been featured on Charlie Rose and Fareed Zakaria’s 360.
Iliana Montauk
Product Leader at Upwork
Iliana served as the third director of Gaza Sky Geeks from October 2013 to October 2015, during which she raised GSG's international profile and led one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns in the Middle East to keep GSG programming running. Before arriving at GSG, Iliana helped launch Wamda’s Research Lab. She previously worked at Google, Monitor Group (now part of Deloitte Consulting), a startup that failed, and a microfinance nonprofit. She graduated from Harvard in 2006.
Abbas “Eddy” Zuaiter
Co-Founder and Managing Member of Zuaiter Capital Holdings
He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Adecoagro, a Member of the Board of Directors of the Arab Bank and a Member of the Board of Directors of Capital Holdings Funds. He co-founded ZCH after he retired from Soros Fund Management in early 2013. During his tenure of over a decade at SFM, he was Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer. He was a member of the SFM’s Executive, Investment, Management, Capital Allocation and Risk Committees, and continues to serve as an advisor to SFM and the various funds it manages. Prior to joining SFM, Abbas was a Partner in the Financial Services Practice of Price waterhouse Coopers. At PwC he served some of the most significant private and public financial institutions in the world. Abbas graduated with a BSBA in Finance and Accounting from Georgetown University where he currently serves on the University’s Board of Advisors for the McDonough School of Business, and the University’s Board of Regents. Abbas also serves on several for profit and non-profit boards, including Arab Bankers Association of North America, iMENA Ventures, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich Investment Committee, The Institute for Middle East Understanding, The Welfare Association, The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, and The Middle East Institute International Advisory Council.
Zohre Elahian
Managing Director at Global Catalyst Foundation
Zohre Elahian is co-founder and board member of the Global Catalyst Foundation. Currently, Ms. Elahian works as a full-time volunteer for the Foundation. She co-founded Schools On Line six years ago, a non-governmental organization based in the United States. Ms. Elahian is on the Board of Relief International, another U.S.-based NGO. Prior to her humanitarian activities, she co-managed a successful private business for 15 years. Ms. Elahian holds an M.A. in Anthropology.

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