Palestine—Technology for Youth and Jobs Project (TechStart)

Client: World Bank

Duration: 2020-2028

Region: Middle East and North Africa

Country: Palestine

Solutions: Economic Growth

The West Bank and Gaza face major threats to their economic growth and the resulting employment opportunities for Palestinians. Political instability and the sluggish economy in 2019 and early 2020 were already hurting job growth and will be hurt even more by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While more than 3,000 Palestinian university students graduate each year with an IT background, relatively few of them get employed in the IT sector because they do not have the requisite skills that respond to the demands of the IT firms and those firms’ end-market clients. IT remains a promising and growing sector though, accounting for 15 percent of service exports in 2017.

The TechStart program is designed to assist the Palestinian IT ecosystem in upgrading firm capabilities and spur employment growth. TechStart builds the capacity of Palestinian firms, strengthens demand from international buyers and investors, and stimulates the absorption of high-tech knowledge in the ecosystem.

The project also includes special activities to address COVID-19 by ensuring that the IT services sector is positioned to contribute to Palestine’s economic recovery. For example, it assists sound firms in weathering the liquidity shock through wage support for companies undertaking virtual training and process or systems upgrades; helps firms facing demand shocks to reposition themselves through advisory and market linkage services; and provides grants or early-stage business advisory services to existing or newly launched firms with the potential to reconstitute the industry.

A female participant presenting her project ideas during the Hi Tech Hub-Optimized.jpg

Sample Activities

  • Strengthen the capabilities of firms and their workforces, addressing the capability shortfalls, information asymmetries, and other factors that dissuade firms from investing in capacity-building activities on their own.
  • Support the entry of new, complementary actors into the IT ecosystem, aiding the private sector to build the technology and business infrastructure that IT service companies rely on to compete, including finance.
  • Stimulate demand through international market linkages and will encourage foreign direct investment in the West Bank and Gaza.

Select Results

  • As of the end of the third quarter in 2023, the TechStart “Upskill” program has received 177 grant applications, with 50 companies awarded a total of $1,790,382 stipend grants.
  • As of the end of the third quarter in 2023, the TechStart “Pioneer” program has received 66 grant applications, with 16 companies awarded a total of $1,185,923.
  • The number of individuals benefiting from TechStart project training activities has risen to 376 since the start of the project, 175 of which are females (47%).
  • Since the project’s inception, 78 distinct firms have benefited from the project’s programs.
  • Local IT service firms benefiting from TechStart programs have signed 87 new contracts, with 54% of these agreements signed with international buyers and 46% with local buyers.
  • 531 additional high-skilled IT service jobs have been created by local firms benefiting from project activities.
  • 5 new firms have been established by project seeds grants, 2 of which are female-owned.

Visit the TechStart website here.

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