The organizers of Startup Weekend, the event where entrepreneurs hack a startup in 54 hours, believe that technology can be a unifying force.
Through the hackathon, they hope to better integrate an underrepresented community into Israel’s thriving tech scene, and in the words of local venture capitalist Erel Margalitdraw, draw attention to a “hidden talent.”
This month, Startup Weekend is headed to Nazareth, the largest city in the Northern District of Israel, also known as the “Arab capital.”
This is the first time that an event of this scale is taking place in an Arab district of the country.
The event is organized by three local entrepreneurs — Jouna Khalil, Sami Abboud and Bshara Rezik, and is sponsored by Jerusalem Venture Partners, Cisco, Google, Mercy Corps, and others. “This is an opportunity for all local innovators to make a difference,” said Khalil, a bio-medical engineer.
Their motivation is to improve access and understanding around technology in Nazareth. According to Tsofen, a nonprofit that is working to better integrate the Arab community into the tech industry, only 500 Arabs work in Israel hi-tech. Through programs and events like this one, Tsofen hopes this number will increase tenfold in the coming year.
“Israel hi-tech, which is ranked second in the world, must break down barriers,” Margalit, founder and chairman of Jerusalem Venture Partners said in a statement. Margalit will offer his services as a mentor during the weekend. “There is huge potential for creativity and innovation among youth from the Arab Sector,” he added.