Startup Weekend Tel Aviv began on Wednesday last week and finished up Friday. During that time, 130 Israelis and 30 Palestinians worked together, aiming to create viable new businesses. Fifty-six ideas were pitched Wednesday, with 16 selected for teams. Once you enter into the Startup Weekend event, there was no Israeli, Palestinian, or American–there were entrepreneurs, developers, investors, designers working together to build technology and have fun.
It isn’t easy getting Palestinians and Israelis together, according to Marc Nager, Clint Nelsen and Franck Nouyrigat, directors of the nonprofit Startup Weekend. The organization had to get government approval, hire a bus and lease the Peres Peace House in Jaffa, Israel. Startup Weekend is also providing hotel space for the Palestinians. “It’s hands down the most expensive Startup Weekend we’ve had,” Nelsen says.
It’s likely not the most difficult to arrange, however. That prize is likely to go to efforts under way now to create a Startup Weekend in Haiti. Nouyrigat says it will take place in December or January.
Startup Weekend Tel Aviv is just one example of a belief in the power of entrepreneurship. The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women has a program it calls Peace Through Business. That program provides long-term business education to women in Rwanda and Afghanistan, based on the philosophy that an economically sound country has a much greater capacity for peace.