The $10 million will help nourish the tech scene in Palestine
Google revealed it is investing millions of dollars to fund Palestinian tech businesses in the country. The initiative, announced by CFO Ruth Porat, will help Palestinians develop better businesses and create jobs in the region. The investment will be paid to Palestinian entrepreneurs over three years.
The social media giant also announced a $25 million investment in Israeli businesses over the next five years. This will target underrepresented groups, including women, Arabs, and ultra-orthodox jews.
Who will this help?
Porat said that the Palestinian investment is primarily targeted at “helping Palestinian graduates, app developers and tech entrepreneurs” with the goal of “providing skills training, facilitating connections to financing, increasing access to jobs and more”.
Additionally, the company will offer online and in-person tech training to increase accessibility to technology. It will also organise job fairs and provide discounts on its development services.
“We look forward to partnering with many across the region to expand upon our existing digital skills programs and provide Palestinians with the tools they need to succeed”, said Porat.
Investing in Palestinian businesses is arguably one of the best ways to improve the economic success in the region. Improving access to technology will also help Palestinian entrepreneurs build products globally, further bringing money into the country. Such investments can make success stories of Palestinians into tech even more common.
The announcement comes five months after hundreds of Google employees co-published an open letter in The Guardian calling on the company to cut Israeli ties. The letter was about Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion contract to provide the occupying Israeli forces, including the IDF, with technological services that may indirectly lead to the oppression of Palestinians. The contract was agreed upon in April whilst the IDF was bombarding Gaza.
It’s not clear if the investment comes as a response to internal pressure or something the company was already working on.
Amina Gerrbi, a co-founder of The Arab Googlers, shared news of the announcement on her Instagram, calling it the “proudest moment of my life”. She also said this is the largest tech investment ever made in Palestine.
Such moments are powerful reminders of the importance of diversity within global organisations. This message is resonated by Porat herself, who said that these initiatives affirm international business’ contributions to the growth of Palestinian tech businesses.
How did Palestinians respond?
Palestinian entrepreneurs celebrated news of the announcement. Hani Al-Alami, CEO of Jest, said that this represents a “significant development for Palestinians” after long “neglect and unfairness”.
According to Arab News, Palestinian universities have approximately 3500 tech engineering graduates every year. However, they have very few opportunities compared to other tech graduates globally.
Al-Alami hopes for more and talked about one day “seeing a Google building in Palestine, as there is in Israel, to help raise the skills of Palestinian engineers and graduates.” He’s also working on bringing investment and work from ten other tech leading businesses into Palestine.
After decades of oppression, it’s promising to see the tide finally turning on economic investment into Palestinian entrepreneurs. With Google at the forefront of the movement, it is now a lot more likely for other companies to follow.