Mercy Corps’ Gaza Sky Geeks featured in ‘Vanity Fair’
Across Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, Gaza Sky Geeks is a hub of tech and innovation. What started as a Mercy Corps initiative supporting Gazan entrepreneurship through coding bootcamps in 2011 has transformed into a home for founders, freelancers, and coders to receive training and support for career opportunities. In addition to offering incubator and acceleration programmes helping founders build successful startups, workshops for freelancers to enter the digital workforce, and coder training for those seeking work as developers—Gaza Sky Geeks has built a community of mentors, investors, and business partners across the globe to support Palestine's digital economy and future technology leaders.
Veteran reporter Janine di Giovanni visited Gaza Sky Geeks in her story, “Generation Gaza: The Young Have Pride Despite Privations.” In Gaza, with two-thirds of the Palestinian residents under the age of 25, young people are hopeful in spite of the hardships they face. Di Giovanni explores how young Palestinians are finding resilience and observes that technology is helping them reach across borders to find new opportunities.
“The difference with this generation is the internet: It has helped open up a new, previously inaccessible world. Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG)—as in ‘the sky’s the limit’—came into being in 2011, as a Mercy Corps programme founded in partnership with Google. The loose group of compatriots run coding camps out of a small warren of offices in downtown Gaza. The Sky Geeks workspaces are named after cities its members may never get a chance to visit—Berlin, Barcelona, New York, Paris. Their goal is to propel the Gaza Strip’s digital economy and train future tech leaders. They are seriously impressive. More than half the Geeks are female; most freelancers who have trained here have gotten jobs online. Collectively, the alumni from their freelance academy have earned nearly $5 million.”