Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Can two startups help make peace between Israelis and Palestinians?Theodore Grossman hopes so.
The Babson College professor, specializing in technology and information systems, is helping to drive commerce between Israelis and Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, by teaching Palestinians and Israeli’s entrepreneurship at Babson College.
“How can we use new methods to bring the people together?”, Professor Grossman said.
The course is called “Bridging the Cultural Divide Through Entrepreneurship”. It brought 20 Palestinians, 17 Israeli Jews, and 7 Arab-Israeli’s together over the summer on Babson’s campus in Massachusetts for 7 weeks.
The students went to class together, ate together, and slept in the dorms together, learning the tools of entrepreneurship from Professor Grossman and his colleagues.
“90% of Palestinian exports go to Israel, so I told my class, ‘at some point hopefully you’ll have your own country, and while Palestine’s primary market will be Palestine, your secondary market will be Israel. And the same goes for Israel. Once the state of Palestine exists, it will be the largest secondary market for the Israelis'”.
Both groups have now returned to their respective homes on Israeli and Palestinan lands. Professor Grossman’s students are executing business plans designed to create commerce back and forth, through techonology startups. The students are using special technology from Venuegen to facilitate their communications.
Next month, Professor Grossman and the student CEOs will be meeting with CEOs from both Israeli companies and Palestinian companies to discuss their products under development. It is hoped that these companies will become customers for their nascent businesses.
Building a functioning and growing economy is absolutely necessary for the creation of a Palestinian state, according to Salam Fayadd, the Palestinian Prime Minister. As the conflict between both sides goes on, and the old guard is pushed aside by the new, communication and economic lines are of vast importance. It’s like Professor Grossman said, “Once Palestine becomes a state, wouldn’t it make sense to have established business contacts in both countries?”
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