From Ramallah to Istanbul, Palestinian Innovators Leading Change

20 of the most promising idea-stage startups participating in Leader’s Palestinian Start-up Support Program (PASS) had the great opportunity to travel with MENACatalyst to Turkey to attend Startup Istanbul: The Startup Event Connecting East & West.

As one of the first Palestinian accelerators, Leader’s has opened the doors for the youth of Palestine to explore the world of innovation and entrepreneurship and become leaders in their own right. Funded by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), Leader’s latest program, PASS has been instrumental in helping local entrepreneurs gain the assistance, training, coaching, and linkages they need to take their startups to the next level.

Startups received an all-inclusive pass to Startup Istanbul and gained instant access to pitching and mentorship sessions from business enablers, investors, and top executives from around the globe. The first day of events kicked off with opening remarks from Startup Istanbul and serial angel investor Burak Buyukdemir. Highlights of the day included a series of conferences that reflected on “Scaling a Startup,” and “What Early Stage Investors Look for in Startups.”

The following day was organized as a global arena for a diverse range of startups to pitch and learn from top tier mentors, business enablers, and investors. The day ended with an invaluable networking session in which all participating entrepreneurs got together to engage in lively discussions and establish lifelong connections.

The third-day of events allowed participants to take in their surroundings and connect with fellow entrepreneurs in a more casual setting via a day-long tour of Istanbul. During the fourth and final day of Startup Istanbul, participating entrepreneurs attending a host of eye-opening yet highly relevant conferences which include “Lessons to Operate in Toxic Environments,” “Cross-border Venture Capital Investments,” and even a panel reflecting on the challenges startups and investors from emerging markets face when attempting to compete on an international scale.

Breaking down barriers and bringing the best of both worlds, Startup Istanbul: Connecting the East & West, was the perfect opportunity for participants to gain insights into successful multicultural entrepreneurial ecosystems, learn how to tap into emerging markets, and gain game-changing exposure for their startups. While investments are important for any startup, for Palestinian entrepreneurs, exposure and networking are many times the main lifeline for the viability and adaptability of their entrepreneurial projects. With exposure and strategic connections, Palestinian startups can establish new partnerships and access the global markets needed to reach their goals and achieve next level success.

PASS is a signature Leader’s program funded by KOICA. Travel for entrepreneurs and participation in Startup Istanbul was coordinated and managed by MENACatalyst.