Shark Tank in Gaza

The Future of Palestinian Entrepreneurship

A teacher shows Palestinian students how to use new laptops at a United Nations school in Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip April 29, 2010. Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters

Mohammed al-Halimy, a 13-year-old Gazan entrepreneur and game programmer, is known by the Electronic Intifada news publication as the “Youngest Geek in Palestine.” Earlier this month, at the finale of a weeklong start-up boot camp, he pitched Filmer, a freelance photography marketplace, to a group of international and local judges. Along with dozens of other Gazans, ages 13 to 56 and half female, Mohammed was vying for an invitation to incubate his start-up at Gaza Sky Geeks, the war-torn region’s first tech accelerator. Only around a quarter of the 46 teams made the cut, and nerves ran as high as on the Shark Tank television series.

Gaza has both the highest literacy and the highest unemployment rates in the Arab world. With roughly 75 percent of the population under the age of 25, the resulting opportunity gap is getting only worse with time. In a place that is blockaded by sea and virtually sealed

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