East Jerusalem: Building a Thriving Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in a Landlocked City
Home to approximately 435,000 Palestinians, East Jerusalem is the second most populated city in Palestine. Despite this, the city is blocked off from the rest of Palestine by a massive wall, not only dividing families, friends, and neighbors, but severing essential economic lifelines needed by the people of East Jerusalem to build successful businesses and develop their city.
As a result, the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the city is struggling to find its footing leaving thousands of Palestinians without the infrastructure, resources, or human capital needed to pursue entrepreneurship as a viable option. To date, East Jerusalem has approximately 18 well-known support organizations. The majority of which are funding institutions that provide microfinance and loans for SMEs. That said, there are a reported two incubation and acceleration programs offered respectively by Al-Quds Business Incubator and JEST (Home of Entrepreneurs). These programs offer emerging self-starters training courses, mentorship and guidance, incubation, and acceleration services, as well as coworking spaces.
The severe restrictions imposed on the people of East Jerusalem, combined with the lack of support organizations, have proved detrimental to the city’s ecosystem forcing many residents to look elsewhere for the support they need. To this effect, a stronger ecosystem requires targeted efforts by key-stakeholders to coordinate their efforts and implement strategies that can overcome glaring oversights while seeing to the economic needs of thousands.