UNDERSTAND | May 29, 2018

Tech Ecosystem in West Bank + Gaza Mapped by the World Bank

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A new report from the World Bank Group offers an in-depth survey of startups and supportive stakeholders of the ecosystem West Bank and Gaza.  The study explores skills, supportive infrastructure, finance pipeline, and community and networks, to identify strenghts and gaps.  

The publication, Tech startup ecosystem in West Bank and Gaza: findings and recommendations, is the latest in a series of ecosystem mapping studies, an initiative born out of collaboration among members of the Global Entrepreneurship Research Network (GERN)

Why study the tech startup ecosystem?

The study begins by making the case that:

  • Technology is one of the main drivers of productivity and economic growth.
  • Developing countries have traditionally had difficulties in both developing technology and absorbing foreign technology, and tech startups are an effective mechanism to both create local technology and absorb foreign technology.
  • 70 to 80% of the productivity gap between developed and developing countries results from the lag in the adoption technologies.

Data

Measuring the tech startup ecosystem over time is inherently difficult, with new ventures constantly being created, failing, being closed, being bought, or transformed.

For this analysis, 423 entrepreneurs were surveyed in the West Bank and Gaza between December 2016 and February 2017 and relevant data was collected for 142 startups and 196 startup founders, based on the standard questionnaire from the GERN Ecosystem Connections project

Findings

These are some of the findings about the West Bank and Gaza ecosystem:

  • The tech startup ecosystem in the West Bank and Gaza is an early-stage ecosystem that is maturing. 
  • The key strengths of the ecosystem are: the presence of highly educated founders (85% of them having a university degree and 27 percent with graduate degrees), and the connection with international networks of knowledge (primarily through international universities and accelerator programs).
  • Weaknesses: founders tend to be young and with little experience, with the bulk of founders having no previous managerial experience.
  • Important actors in the ecosystem were are highlighted: 500 Startups; University of Pennsylvania; NYU Abu Dhabi; Gaza Sky Geeks; Startup Weekend; Tel Aviv University; BDL Accelerate 2015; Birzeit University.
  • Investment seems sufficient for the scale of the ecosystem, with a large pool of angel investors. 
  • The West Bank and Gaza ecosystem has one of the largest participation of female entrepreneurs of the ecosystems analyzed.

Policy recommendations

The authors Victor Mulas, Kathy Qian, Jade Garza and Scott Henry, offer policy recommendations for supporting the growth and sustainability of the ecosystem, based on international practices, such as:

  • Build the capacity of intermediaries and networking assets to increase community and clusters, particularly between Gaza and West Bank. Linkages could also be made with Jordan, proximate Arab communities, and the MENA region more broadly.
  • Address gaps in practical business acumen and technical training, train pipeline of talent for startup scale up, and encourage participation of lower income/educated population.
  • Increase capacity building of mentors and foster the creation of angel networks. Aim towards professionalization of accelerators and facilitate entry of international talent (e.g. mentors, entrepreneurs or capacity builders) into the ecosystem.

Other mapped cities 

For other outputs and research products from the GERN Ecosystem Connections Mapping project, including maps of the ecosystems in Cairo, Bogota, Beirut, Dar Es Salaam, Singapore, Santiago, Medellin, Palestine and New York City, click here

 

Cristina Fernández focuses on integrating policymakers into startup ecosystems across the world, creating platforms for them to exchange ideas… About the author