June 23, 2024

New Riyada Programme boosts services for Palestinian startups and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises(SMEs)

SPARK and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development have united to launch the Riyada Programme, a pivotal initiative aimed at bolstering resilience among Palestinian youth. This partnership targets Higher Education Institutions and Business Support Centers, equipping them to deliver vital services to startups and SMEs. By nurturing local business incubators and enhancing support centers, the programme seeks to empower young entrepreneurs, stimulate economic growth, and foster a future defined by prosperity and opportunity across the Palestinian Territories.

The Palestinian Territories have long faced significant barriers to economic growth due to historic restrictions and blockades. Despite these massive challenges, Palestinian youth have systematically fought to create a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, yet they continue to face obstacles at every step. Their pursuit of an innovation ecosystem is not limited to livelihoods but also aims to build social cohesion, foster community development, and nurture groups of creative minds that can lead to a more prosperous future.

In this vein, SPARK and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development have partnered to launch the Riyada Programme, aiming to build resilience for youth in Palestine by technically supporting Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Business Support Centers (BSCs) to enhance their ability to provide essential services to both startups and existing SMEs, stimulating entrepreneurial youth towards self sustenance.

In response, SPARK and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development have partnered to launch the (Riyada) programme that aims to build resilience for youth in Palestine. This one-year programme aims to support Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Business Support Centers (BSCs) by enhancing their ability to provide essential services to startups and SMEs, thereby stimulating the region’s entrepreneurial youth towards economic prosperity.

Supporting Palestinian Startups and SMEs

Through the Riyada programme, SPARK is collaborating with five local university business incubators—Birzeit University, Palestine Polytechnic University, An-Najah National University, Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie, and Al-Quds University— with a focus on supporting emerging and existing start-ups and MSMEs led by young entrepreneurs.

The programme is structured to provide tailored support to each selected entrepreneur in several key areas: idea generation and testing, business model development, feasibility studies, business plan development, and project launch. In addition, the provision of consultation in product design and development, coupled with fiinancial support will enhance the survivability of these startups and SMEs.

Strengthening Local Business Support Centres

Ms. Dina Almasaeid, Deputy Regional Programme Director for the Middle East at SPARK, emphasised, “By nurturing startups, we aim to cultivate a future marked by increased job opportunities and enhanced economic stability throughout the West Bank.”

As part of their joint efforts, SPARK and Birzeit University, through the Center of Continuing Education (CCE), strive to empower young individuals and enhance the capabilities of five local Business Support Centres (BSCs) embedded within Higher Education Institutions. This collaboration highlights their shared dedication to leveraging Higher Education Institutions for bolstering SMEs and startups. By partnering with established local entities such as CCE, renowned for their pivotal contribution to economic development, SPARK aims to forge enduring alliances that promote economic prosperity and community progress across Palestine.

Dr. Osama Almimi, Director of CCE, highlighted, “Together, CCE, SPARK, and local HEIs will address a significant gap in the local business services market—particularly the shortage of qualified business mentors.”

As the Riyada programme progresses until December 2024, SPARK and Birzeit University are poised to overcome barriers hindering private sector development and stability, thereby paving the way for job creation and a prosper future for Palestinian youth.

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