Gaza Sky Geeks is a program of Mercy Corps established in 2011 in collaboration with Google. Having undergone a journey starting out as a startup bootcamp, Gaza Sky Geeks now has the status of tech hub housing tech upskilling, coworking spaces and a startup accelerator, making it the number one destination for Palestine’s top tech talent.
Mercy Corps recognizing the need for a tech ecosystem
Mercy Corps secured their first USAID-funded tech education program in the West Bank. Programs of this period mark the beginning of Mercy Corps’ consideration going beyond humanitarian programs by redirecting the spotlight to opportunities in tech and entrepreneurship in Gaza. Acknowledging the urgent need to create more sustainable opportunities for Palestinian youth became the starting point of Gaza Sky Geeks. A seed had been planted with the aspiration that soon Palestine would benefit from having a flourishing tech ecosystem.
Launching the Arab Developer Network Initiative
In 2011, the Arab Developer Network Initiative (ADNI) was launched through generous funding from Google. Mercy Corps arranged multiple visits for the Google team to get familiarized with the community, and together they worked on creating mobile apps. Based on this success Mercy Corps and Google solidified their partnership by establishing Google-funded Acceleration program run by Mercy Corps.
Gaza Sky Geeks: the Acceleration Program
The Gaza Sky Geeks which today is a well-known tech ecosystem player in Palestine had its modest beginnings in 2011. The original team consisted of just three core team members joined by the three winning teams from Startup Weekend, and operated out of a small flat in Gaza City.
Addressing the need for women inclusivity
In 2014, the GSG team started designing and implementing a series of small events dedicated to women’s empowerment in the ICT sector. By inviting local and regional experts to help strategize around the university and community outreach efforts to secure a higher female participation and program engagement, the Big Sister, Little Sister initiative was born.
PowerUpGazaGeeks Crowdfunding Campaign
Due to lack of funding and the electricity crisis in 2016, the Gaza Sky Geeks was not able to open the co-working space on weekends or evenings. In response to this the team decided to launch the PowerUpGazaGeeks crowdfunding campaign to raise $95k to buy a dedicated generators for the co-working space.
Launching the Freelance Academy
Established in 2016 in response to a debilitated local job market and to increase online job opportunities, which spoke powerfully to the GSG vision to help Palestinians build a stronger economy and gain meaningful income online. The unprecedented demand and need for supporting and strengthening digital upskilling, paved the way for the creation of a new program: The Freelance Academy.