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Israeli universities help develop Arab startups

A leading Israeli college is helping gifted Arab engineering and medical students enter the business world with creative and innovative ideas for startups in their respective fields.

Together with the Neshama Fund charity and investment firm Shirat Enterprises, Jerusalem’s Azrieli College of Engineering has opened the Wamda program specifically to encourage the integration of Arab Israelis into startup entrepreneurship.

Based at Azrieli, the Wamda (flash of light in Arabic) program has been designed for Arab students to receive excellent mentoring, teaching and networking guidance in entrepreneurship. It is intended the program will facilitate the student’s entry to the business world in Jerusalem and the rest of Israel, Israel 21C reports.

Students accepted to the program are already enrolled at Azrieli or Hebrew University, among other colleges, and are interested in launching a startup. Among those currently on the program is Muhammad, who is developing a security application that puts laptops in sleep mode if the user has moved away from it. This idea is considered to be helpful in sensitive military settings. Arin, another student on the program, is working on a smartphone application that will help dentists and patients to schedule appointments.

Despite the gifting for innovation among Arab Israelis, there has been insufficient fostering of entrepreneurial talent in this population sector. Wamda was founded to do something about this.

“We saw that there is a gap for Arab students,” Wamda cofounder Samah Kheir explained. “We felt we lack this entrepreneurial spirit and we understand that entrepreneurship is a pillar of the modern economy and thus, we need an opportunity and an adequate platform, in particular, to work on it.”

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Karen Faulkner
Karen Faulkner recently completed a Master's degree in Human Rights and Transitional Justice at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. She made Aliyah in 2006 and lives in Jerusalem.

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