Our funding has come to an end. Every day during and after the recent conflict in Gaza, we worried about whether the startup movement we’ve created in Gaza will come to a halt.

We were launched with a generous one-time grant from Google.org. We appreciate it immensely – Google was the first to take a bet on Gaza. Google remains a committed partner of ours through the Google for Entrepreneurs network.

And our work has grown: we’re now running a real startup accelerator in addition to a co-working space and outreach machine.

Launching successful startups from Gaza only costs $500k/year. We’re seeking new strategic partners to ensure our sustainability. To fund our immediate financial gap for 2015, we’re turning to a new tactic. Crowdfunding.

We’re turning to crowdfunding for several reasons:

  • It’s one of the only ways to raise money quickly – and we need money urgently to stay open
  • Crowdfunding is one of the best ways for us to get our message across – Gazans cannot travel, but we can spread the word via social media
  • The campaign will strengthen our work overall by raising awareness of entrepreneurs in Gaza and identifying new strategic partners so that we can diversify our funding sources & bring more expertise to our startups

We’ve never run a crowdfunding campaign before, and a lot of work has gone into preparing this one. It’s been a stretch on top of all of our regular work. We’ve only been able to pull it together thanks to ~15 volunteers who joined our business continuity team. Together, we’ve all been learning about crowdfunding and getting ready to launch this campaign.

This is our only shot, so let’s hope we get it right. Our minimum goal is $70k to keep the space open, but our real goal is $250k – half of the funds we need to operate in 2015. This will empower us to continue conducting outreach and training, and connecting top startups to the resources they need to succeed.

(Our stretch goal is to raise $1.5M to grow Gaza’s startup movement over the next 3 years.)

Root for us! This is going to be quite a ride!

You can find the campaign at www.gazastarts.com.



by staff writer

Iliana Montauk
Gaza Sky Geeks Director, Mercy Corps Digital Economy Program Director


PS: Many of you ask the following questions, so here’s an FAQ!

Why isn’t Mercy Corps funding Gaza Sky Geeks?

Mercy Corps, our umbrella organization, is a global humanitarian and economic development organization.  Mercy Corps can only run programs for which it has received funds.  Often, when funding ends, a program is shut down.

Mercy Corps is proud of the innovation and impact that Gaza Sky Geeks has achieved. In order to keep Gaza Sky Geeks operating until new funding can be identified, Mercy Corps has committed hundreds of thousands of dollars. And in order to keep Gaza Sky Geeks running longer, we’ll need to raise new funds!

Why didn’t you receive funding during the major donor conference in Cairo last month?

The major donor pledge conference in Cairo in October raised funds for infrastructure in Gaza, but not for future-oriented work like ours.

Our community in Gaza keeps telling us that, more than anything else, they want a future. That’s why we’re launching this crowdfunding campaign!