A booming West Bank tech startup ecosystem: the recipe for success

Creating a sustainable Palestinian economy is central to the efforts of the stakeholders who wish to see a bright future for the region. Arguably, economic development is a precursor to peace and growth. It is time that the people of West Bank start to see the plethora of opportunities that can spark a tech boom in the region.

The West Bank startup ecosystem is gradually maturing despite being in its early stage. The resources are certainly available, with several talented and highly educated founders, multiple accelerator and incubator programmes, access to venture capital and a wealth of young ambitious IT specialists graduate which keeps increasing ever year.

Nevertheless, very few new IT companies are being established which results in a large number of IT graduates ending up being unemployed. The vast bank of resources remains untapped. Overall, startup founders tend to be young graduates who do not possess enough knowledge to display the leadership maturity and skillset required to manage a sustainable firm. Consequently, there is a need for more experienced business mentors or angel investors in the Palestinian region who can offer their expertise and provide the essential credibility to access new clients and tap new markets.

It is crucial that ambitious talented young graduates learn from the success stories of existing successful startups in the region. One such success story is that of Transcend, founded by partners from the UK, the US and the Palestinian territories which raised a follow-on investment from the Palestine Investment Fund.

Transcend prides itself for cultivating a vibrant culture where strong language and IT skills are used in the Palestinian territories to create jobs, skills and service exports. The core business is serving clients that want to find and support customers in the Middle East using social media and bilingual English/Arabic voice contact for sales, customer support and research.

The combination of the founding fathers of the firm contribute to the much-needed credibility that the company uses to access new clients across the globe. In 2012, the company heavily invested to build an international standard 88-seat contact center. The venture capital investment in 2013 allowed the company to recruit a senior management team and expand its software development team. As of now, Transcend boasts a 120 staff member team in the West Bank and Gaza.

One of the key elements that has contributed to their success is the international nature of the partnership. It ensures that the firm was operating in an ecosystem with a stable economy with a young, well-educated IT savvy workforce who were being guided by the expertise of their business mentors and angels.