Hope, Outsourcing, Youth and Borders!
A blog post by Rana Alqernawi
To come from a closed off place like Gaza, it’s possible that some people have never even heard of you let alone expect you to be aware of entrepreneurship and its big challenges! Moreover, taking responsibility to make the voices of the youth and women heard is especially hard when you struggle to find your own voice.
I had the pleasure to represent Mercy Corps – Palestine and all its fabulous work in support of youth at the Annual Summit of the Adolescent in Entrepreneurship held in Amman, Jordan, on the 21st and 22nd of February 2018. The event hosted speakers from different countries who are entrepreneurship leaders in their communities to highlight the main challenges they face.
Life is really funny!
This event can be seen as the gate that will open the world’s eyes to the existence of entrepreneurship in Gaza and finally pin it on the map as a successful area in place of the constant unjust overlooking of the talented entrepreneurs there! Having that in mind, I worked hard and waited long for a permit to leave Gaza.
Furthermore, another very valuable opportunity came up at the same time to get a training in outsourcing at Tanasuk, one of the most well-known outsourcing companies in Jordan.
Months after months, I got overwhelmed as time passed and the possibility of me losing those two opportunities grew bigger. My only fault was that I am a Gazan ID holder!
I was supposed to be settled in Amman preparing myself for my training which was supposed to start on February second, but it was the sixth of February and Tanasuk’s outsourcing training kickoff event in partnership with Microsoft came by and went and I was still in Gaza. By the 7th of February, I was completely down. While sitting in a strategic meeting feeling numb after yet another lost opportunity, “Rana, you have only three hours to leave!” came from our operations manager bringing me back to a reality that was surreal… I got my permit and I can finally attend the training that had started without me.
I rushed back home to pack a bag and leave to the border, which was one and a half hour away! None of my family members were there to say goodbye.
It felt like a miracle to get that blue paper [Jordanian Allenby Bridge Pass] after losing and regaining hope so many times.
I found out in Amman that in my haste I had packed absolutely nothing appropriate for the weather and had to start my shopping spree earlier than usual..
Finally at Tanasuk
It was one of those moments that you are afraid you would wake up any moment and it was all a dream, except it was real. I made it to Tanasuk where I got to play the role I enjoy the most, the bridge between the business and tech.
It was fascinating to learn about the business model and structure of Tanasuk and its parent and sister companies. In teams, the developers were practicing Sitecore, a customer experience management company that provides web content management and multichannel marketing automation software, using Microsoft development tools to build big MVC systems for different clients all around the world. One thing I really liked at Tanasuk was the value given to sharing experience and findings. Everytime someone learns something new, they immediately share it with the team. It made work enjoyable and fostered passion to learn more, which made long working hours go by fast.
Learning Sitecore wasn’t on my agenda, I was scheduled to work closely with the marketing manager and team. However, after I learned about the business model [of Tanasuk] I found it very important to learn about the technology I wanted to market and promote. The team helped me learn a lot about Sitecore and find the right tutorials, but there was no time to attend a full training program so I had to focus on one priority, outsourcing.
At Tanasuk, I never felt like a stranger or away from home! Everyone there was a real family member and is an expert in something special they can teach you. There was so much to learn during the fun chats and laughter over lunch on Sundays, English-only Tuesdays, daily 10:00 am standups, birthdays, breakfasts, coffee breaks, and daily value sharing commitment.
There, I learned a lot about being human before learning about outsourcing, business, or coding. I miss Tanasuk!
No Lost Generation
Days were going very fast and it was the time to prepare for the No Lost Generation (NLG) event I was invited to participate in.
“The No Lost Generation initiative is a concerted effort by donors, UN agencies, NGOs and governments to ensure that children and young people affected by the crises in Syria and Iraq [and Palestine] have access to education, protection and opportunities to engage positively in their community and society. It is co-led by UNICEF, Mercy Corps, Save the Children and World Vision.”
I was part of the Youth and Entrepreneurship panel held on the second day of the event. I spoke about the youth in Gaza and how their future is severely affected by the conflict and closure there. I also took the chance to talk about the high capability of our entrepreneurs to compete internationally and the high percentage of the women participation in our different programs at Gaza Sky Geeks.
I was really honored to grab the attention of all guests and investors present at the event and answer their questions about the trip I made to get there and the stories I shared from my work at GSG. It was a great event and a networking opportunity. I am still following up with many people and organizations I met at the NLG.
I left back to Gaza a couple of days after with a long list of contacts and action items resulting from the event, my time at Tanasuk and a number of meetings I had with people and organizations from the entrepreneurship and tech ecosystem in Amman, Jordan.
A very important learning I took from this experience which I would like to share with everyone is that It is HARD to keep your hope up for a long time while watching the complexity in everything around you evolve, but it’s very IMPORTANT to not give up and believe that one day you can do it, too!