POWER UP GAZA’S GEEKS
Every startup founder & developer should have electricity. Your help will keep us online evenings and weekends, doubling our productivity.
Support from match donors like these is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Gaza’s tech sector. Help us make the most of it.
Tech leaders from around the world have united to #PowerUpGazaGeeks:
Every dollar you give will be matched (max $147k)
Your support for Gaza’s pioneering geeks IS PHENOMENAL! We’ve almost raised enough to launch the coding academy. On top of that, new supporters reached out to offer to match donations!
The campaign is being extended by 2 more weeks to harness your support and reach the goal. Let’s launch Gaza’s first coding academy!
This is a hugely important investment that will empower us to fuel our own futures. Our match donors are waiting to see what we can achieve. Let’s do it. Please tell all your friends to donate now + get matched!
We enable Gaza’s most talented youth to earn an income through the power of the internet. We aim to turn Gaza – one of the toughest places in the world – into an internationally competitive tech hub.
Launching a coding bootcamp will deepen existing developer talent, grow a pipeline of new talent, and inspire more Gazans to learn to code.
Gaza’s geeks are isolated. Gaza has a pool of passionate, skilled developers working in outsourcing, freelancing, and startups. But after more than a decade of isolation, we have few full-stack developers in Gaza who are fully up to date the latest engineering trends. Even in the tech sector, knowledge transfers best through in-person communities – not the internet alone.
The whole world is thirsty for more tech talent. With Gaza’s tech sector picking up pace – and the global tech sector hungry for talent – now is the time to grow the number of people studying coding. We’ll connect these new developers to jobs in Gaza with our startups or local tech companies, as well as remote/freelancing/outsourcing jobs.
A coding curriculum would bring the latest trends in software development to Gaza. We would recruit staff trained abroad to teach a full stack, cloud technologies, and DevOps / continuous deployment. We’d also teach the management skills and culture that are critical to shipping software products.
Our academy would inspire more Gazans to learn to code. Establishing a coding bootcamp would evangelize the field of software engineering at a larger level. Even Gazans not attending the academy would be inspired to study engineering in college or teach themselves to code. Gazan parents are unaware of startups and the tech industry. They often discourage their children from studying software engineering in school. The presence of a coding academy would change that.
Our academy would become self-sustainable. $175K could cover startup, program, and operations costs for our first cohort of 25 students. We’ll experiment with a tuition recovery model: graduates will pay back their tuition after they get paid employment.
Your donation could provide:
$1000 = 1 WEEK coding bootcamp for 1 student
$500 = ½ WEEK coding bootcamp for 1 student
$250 = 1 DAY coding bootcamp for 1 student
$50 = ½ DAY coding bootcamp for 1 student
Note: The full $175K cost of launching a coding academy includes overhead. Startups and their supporting organizations need to be nimble and pivot according to opportunities, challenges, and lessons they learn on an ongoing basis. In addition, Gaza is a quickly-changing environment. The costs and goals we’ve described reflect our plans given our experience to-date and our upcoming goals. Your donation will empower us to build Gaza’s tech sector; we reserve the right to adjust the specific use as needed to ensure that your donation has the biggest impact possible.
Gaza is currently going through a major fuel and electricity crisis. On average we now receive four non-consecutive hours of electricity per day, some of our neighborhoods only get one hour. (We used to get eight-hour cycles) In a crunch, we charge our phones and laptops with car batteries, but such methods are unreliable and not scalable and the problem is chronic. So that startup founders and freelancers can compete at an international level, we need to reliably power up our laptops and mobile phones and access internet and light for at least 12 hours each day, every day of the week.
At Gaza Sky Geeks, we have a co-working space that hosts startup founders and freelancers under one roof to share ideas, build companies, code, and geek out! Our generator supplies reliable electricity so that our community can access the internet.
But we close evenings and weekends because we cannot afford to fuel the generator or staff the space. We also lack the generator capacity needed to run heaters in the winter and air conditioners in the summer.
Our geeks want to work longer hours to build globally competitive businesses. That means buying the fuel and generator we need to operate a safe and comfortable co-working space that stays open evenings and weekends. Thanks to you, we can now do that!
With $95k we can now procure a generator, fuel, and staff to double our co-working space open hours for the next three years:
$24k – Generator purchase & maintenance ($12k generator + $4k/year maintenance)
$40k – Fuel to extend our hours to include evenings & weekends ($13k/year)
$45k – Staff to extend our hours to include evenings & weekends ($15k/year)
Thank you for your help to #PowerUpGazaGeeks!
Note: The amounts above include overhead costs. The costs and goals we’ve described reflect our plans given our experience to-date and our upcoming goals. Your donation will empower us to build Gaza’s tech sector; we reserve the right to adjust the specific use as needed to ensure that your donation has the biggest impact possible.
We live in isolation and instability. Gaza’s borders are closed, unemployment is at a record high, and because of the current electricity crisis, we only get four hours of power per day. Instability is always a possibility due to the region’s politics. There have been three devastating conflicts in the past seven years.
The internet gives us the opportunity to join the global digital economy. The growing tech sector is a bright spot in Gaza. Startup founders, outsourcing companies, and freelancers are building enterprises that service external markets. They are creating high paying in-demand jobs that are less affected by local instability and border restrictions.
In addition to creating jobs, we are growing Gaza’s future leaders. We provide the infrastructure, training, networks, and funding that these pioneering developers need to succeed. On top of that, we nurture a supportive community of innovators and entrepreneurs whose optimism is infectious. It is this vibrant community that inspires new founders and gives existing ones the resilience to carry forward.
Tech connects the world. Startups, outsourcing, and freelancing are inherently global. Our geeks are hungry to engage with their peers and role models around the globe. This is most powerful when it happens offline as well as online – which is why we bring international mentors to Gaza and take our startup founders on trips abroad too.
Gaza Sky Geeks is one of the top startup incubators and tech education hubs in a frontier market. Founded with seed funding from Google.org in 2011, we are a part of Mercy Corps, a trusted steward of funds from a variety of international donors. We are one of only two Google for Entrepreneurs partners in the Middle East. In 2016, we were honored to receive Google for Entrepreneurs’ annual citizenship award, voted by the partner network – over 50 tech hubs and entrepreneurship support organizations around the world – for “pursuing an audacious path, truly excelling in supporting and empowering entrepreneurs to build amazing things.”
Our crowdfunding campaign two years ago saved Gaza Sky Geeks. Since then, we have not only delivered on our commitments – we’ve surpassed them.
Read more about our achievements from the past two years.
" Gaza Sky Geeks is not only launching sustainable businesses - it's truly changing lives."
Head of Engineering, Amsterdam, Uber
" Gaza Sky Geeks is one of the most important things happening in Gaza today. They support entrepreneurship, develop jobs, and inspire people."
Co-founder and COO of Crowdpac
" Gazans are known in the region for their tech skills and resilience. I wouldn't be surprised if the next big success comes from Gaza."
Founder and Vice Chairman of Aramex
" I loved my trip to Gaza. Exchanging ideas with the passionate, intelligent entrepreneurs was such a joy!"
" No entrepreneur should have to work in the dark. No entrepreneur should have to work without electricity. Startups are electric. Help them get some electricity in Gaza!"
Founding Partner, 500 Startups
" Techstars Foundation - which is focused on diversity in entrepreneurship - chose Gaza Sky Geeks as one of our first partners out of 100+ of applications because they're truly pioneers in this area!"
Managing Director, Foundry Group
Our partners and individual donors are a key part of our success. Since 2014, we’ve aligned partnerships with Google for Entrepreneurs, Microsoft, Techstars Foundation, Vitol Foundation, Skoll Foundation, PalTel Foundation, Bank of Palestine, Bayt.com, Asfari Foundation, and others. Combined, these have provided us with nearly 50% of the budget we need – a strong foundation. They have also served as advisers, continuously helping us strengthen our strategy.
Generous supporters have rallied to match your donations now:
Marc Benioff: Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Salesforce
Brad Feld: Managing Director, Foundry Group
Paul Graham: Co-Founder, Y Combinator
Eric Ries: Entrepreneur, blogger, and author of The Lean Startup
Dave McClure: Founding Partner, 500 Startups
Fadi Ghandour: Co-Founder, Aramex
Badr Jafar: CEO, Crescent Enterprises
Hala Fadel: Partner, Leap Ventures
Jon Bradford: Co-Founder of F6S and Tech.eu
Freada Kapor Klein: Partner, Kapor Capital
Mitch Kapor: Partner, Kapor Capital
Zahi Khouri: Founder, Chairman, and CEO – National Beverage Company – Coca Cola Palestine
Samih Toukan: Chairman of Jabbar, Co-Founder of Maktoob and Souq
Blaise Aguera y Arcas: Principal scientist, Google
Mustafa Sezgin: Head of Engineering in Amsterdam, Uber
Khailee Ng: Managing Partner, 500 Startups
Jenny Lawton: COO, Techstars
David Cohen: Co-Founder, Techstars
We need to move fast. We just began incubating this year’s cohort of startups. For these teams to secure investments in 2017, they need to be able to access electricity on nights and weekends as soon as possible. Our growing community of freelancers and outsourcers also need to work longer hours to deliver on their client contracts even as Gaza faces the biggest energy crunch in recent history. Please help power up our geeks so they can compete at a global level!
To build a true tech sector in Gaza, we need to build a movement through supporters like you from around the globe. This is a long-term mission that will take all of us to succeed. In addition to funding, our entrepreneurs and developers will need mentorship, board members, investors, job opportunities, and more. When you contribute to this campaign, you unlock the potential of young people in one of the toughest parts of the world.
Since 2014, we have incubated 35 startups and facilitated investment offers for 11 teams. Our startups are like those anywhere in the world. A few examples:
View all of our startups on our main website.
We’ve stayed busy since our last campaign – and have the results to show for it.
Baskalet, a company that builds games based in Arab culture, became our first startup to generate revenue and is now seeking follow-on investment! Contact with international mentors accelerated their growth: they participated in a trip to Sweden sponsored by Klarna and were recently Gaza’s first accepted startup to Blackbox, a bootcamp that brings global startups to Silicon Valley.
We expect to generate $25,000 revenue/year through our space after this campaign. One of our revenue-generation strategies is to rent out seats or rooms from our space to individuals and companies; we also rent out our workshop halls for events. Extended hours, air conditioning, and heating will make it more attractive and increase demand. As a result, the revenue we generate will cover our rent. (We will still depend on you and our other donors to cover the cost of staff and electricity.)
Today is the last day of this 4-week campaign. We’re just $7K away from meeting the new match challenge and $54K to launching our coding academy!* Our match donors are waiting: a successful campaign will also build our credibility with them.
Also remember to call and text your friends: 43% of donations to this campaign have come from direct personal requests. Approx 23% have come from Facebook and 14% from Twitter. Here’s a breakdown of the stats:
The crisis which sparked this campaign is now front-page news (click on image to read article):
Working in Gaza isn’t easy. I became Gaza Sky Geeks’ leader because I was inspired by the founders and developers here. Even in these tremendously difficult circumstances, Gaza’s geeks are joking, optimistic, and working hard.
Your funding not only provides us with the opportunity to make a hugely important investment in Gaza’s tech sector, it also gives us a morale boost. THANK YOU!
Ryan + the whole Gaza Sky Geeks team
More famous technologists just threw their support behind Gaza’s geeks as match donors:
We’ve only been able to garner their interest because of your strong support. Thanks for creating this movement
Mustafa Dahdouh says that learning how to code changed his life. Let’s change the future for Gaza’s youth by giving more people in this generation this opportunity. THANK YOU FOR BEING AWESOME!
Iliana + the Gaza Sky Geeks team
We’re absolutely amazed and uplifted by your commitment to Gaza’s geeks. You made astoundingly generous donations to help us hit the $60K match challenge set by tech leaders from around the globe. What a way to start 2017! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
We’re halfway towards our goal of doubling our co-working space hours AND launching Gaza’s first coding academy.* With one week left, your help spreading the word now is more important than ever before.
Crowdfunding only works because of the crowd effect. That means you. If you stick with us now, we truly have a chance to change the future of Gaza’s tech sector. Even if you’ve done this previously, please help again to keep the campaign strong in this home stretch:
Already your support has led to donations from 26 countries with the US, UK, and UAE in the lead. Approximately 50% of donations have come from direct asks, 23% from Facebook, and 15% from Twitter. Keep it going!
We’re raising a new match pool to stimulate the campaign during its home stretch! If you want to contribute or can provide an intro, email Iliana at [email protected] We’re aiming to announce the new match on Monday.
In addition to giving generously & sharing with friends, you have sent encouraging notes. Working in Gaza is tough – really, no joke. 🙂 Your commitment to our bold vision gives us an ongoing boost. (Thanks Ethan!)
Let’s make this happen!!!
Zahra Shah + the Gaza Sky Geeks team
Thank you again for your incredible support to the #PowerUpGazaGeeks campaign. It’s off to a very strong start with $52K donated + $52K match = $104K raised!
Our generous match donors have pooled together $60K if we can raise that amount by December 31. We’re just $8K short to reach that target – and have 4 days left! Could you help by sharing the campaign with your friends?
You’ve heard about our hard work and challenges. I thought you’d enjoy seeing the fun side of Gaza’s geeks too. Here’s a bloopers video that came out of filming the main campaign video – join us for some laughs, and feel free to share this video with your friends too!
Let’s nurture successful companies and smiling people. Happy holidays!
Ryan + the whole Gaza Sky Geeks team
Thanks to your donation and your effort to share the #PowerUpGazaGeeks campaign, we hit our $95K goal in just 10 days. We can now get a generator, fuel, and staff to keep our co-working hub open evenings and weekends – doubling our productivity. We’re celebrating!
Huge thanks from Mohammed Al-Madhoun and everyone else here at Gaza Sky Geeks. You’re giving us the tools we need to fuel our own futures.
Do you think we could raise $175K more? With nearly $12K still left in our match pool that expires on December 31, we’ve got a reason to start quickly. A match from people like Brad Feld, Paul Graham, and Dave McClure is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Gaza’s tech sector. Let’s make the most of it!
Raising $175K would enable us to launch Gaza’s first advanced coding curriculum. This 3-month intense bootcamp will deepen existing developer talent and inspire more youth to learn to code. It’s a hugely important investment for the future of Gaza’s tech sector. See more info and donate at PowerUpGazaGeeks.com.*
And because we’re bold entrepreneurs, we’ve set an uber stretch goal of raising a grand total of $400K to invest in key initiatives – the foundation our founders and developers need to compete regionally:
Post the campaign video on Facebook
Folks are telling us they love seeing this video. It’s usually their first glimpse of Gaza’s geeks. With 21 days left for this campaign, one of the best ways to help is to share the video. Please:
Remember to include a personal message like:
I just donated to support these inspiring startup founders & developers. I’m moved by their resilience and optimism. Please join me to #PowerUpGazaGeeks: WWW.POWERUPGAZAGEEKS.COM
Again, thank you for all your support! We’re blown away and motivated by the response we’ve received. With your help, we can lay the foundation for Gaza’s tech sector’s success.
Wishing you a happy holiday season!
Zahra + everyone at Gaza Sky Geeks
We accept credit cards and PayPal online, checks by mail, and wire transfers. If you are having trouble making your donation, contact us at [email protected] and we will work with you to facilitate your payment.
We update donations daily by 9AM Pacific Time (for donations made until 11:59PM Pacific Time the day before).
Yes. Your donation will go to Mercy Corps, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Contributions to Mercy Corps are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. All donors in the United States will receive a tax receipt by mail in the weeks following their contribution.
Gaza Sky Geeks is a program of Mercy Corps. In 2011, Mercy Corps established Gaza Sky Geeks with seed financing from Google.org. Gaza Sky Geeks is a critical part of Mercy Corps’ work to improve people’s lives in the West Bank and Gaza, and in particular, to provide meaningful economic opportunities and futures for young Gazans.
Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action—helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.
Gaza Sky Geeks is a program of Mercy Corps, an international non-governmental organization with decades of experience working in West Bank and Gaza. People can feel very confident that when they donate to Mercy Corps, we use their donation wisely. Mercy Corps is a trusted steward of funds from a variety of international donors, including the U.S. government, European governments, multinational corporations, charitable foundations, and individuals. Transparency is vital to our operations.
Donors entrust Mercy Corps to use their funds for exclusively non-political humanitarian and development purposes, based on our excellent track record. Charity Navigator rates us 97/100 on accountability and transparency, our audited financial statements are freely available to the public, and external audits of our Gaza programs report no findings. For more information about the internationally-recognized standards of accountability and performance Mercy Corps meets, please visit our website here: www.mercycorps.org/about-us/endorsements.
Mercy Corps’ vetting process is in line with industry best practices. All staff and vendors we work with, as well as startups we incubate or accelerate, pass compliance and eligibility checks to ensure we comply with U.S. anti-terrorism legislation. In addition, when our startup founders and geeks travel outside of Gaza, they undergo clearance through the Israeli government.
We care deeply about the environment and wish we could use solar panels! We hope solar energy is in Gaza Sky Geeks’ future. In the short term, a generator and fuel are the best option for us because:
Mercy Corps has operated safely in the West Bank and Gaza for decades, including both local and international staff. Our security team coordinates closely with authorities to be aware of up-to-date developments.
We have facilitated travel for over 100 mentors to work with our startups in Gaza. If you are selected as a mentor, you will have a chance to speak to our staff and previous mentors so you can ask them about their experiences.
Gaza Sky Geeks is run by Mercy Corps, an international NGO that has decades of experience working in the Palestinian Territories. Mercy Corps coordinates with authorities to obtain permits for entry and exit from Gaza through Israel.