Development studies center partners with local, international agencies, pioneers social initiative incubator

Students celebrated the launch of an incubator for cause-driven business enterprises at Birzeit University in a seminar organized by the Center for Development Studies on Monday, May 6, 2019. Part of the “Let’s Start Up” project, the incubator focuses on social initiatives aimed at and run by persons with disabilities. 

Linda Tabar, director of the Center for Development Studies, highlighted the center’s efforts in contextualizing sustainable development efforts in Palestine. She noted that the seminars, workshops, lectures, and courses offered by the center have played a vital role in igniting discussions on sustainable development methods and on alternatives to current practice. 

The incubator, established through a joint partnership between Birzeit University, An-Najah National University, EducAid, the Italian Disability Network, the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, the Ramallah and Nablus chambers of trade and commerce, Aswat Organization for Mental Disorders, Rantis Women Society, and the Palestinian Ministry of Labor will provide assistance for socially driven organizations and initiatives that support persons with disabilities. 

Francesca Annetti, EducAid’s project manager in Palestine, said that the incubator supports social initiatives that are selected by a joint committee that comprises representatives of project partners and of similar, socially conscious startups and organizations. 

Rami Mahdawi, director general of employment at the Ministry of Labor, noted that the ministry utilizes a multi-pronged approach to encourage socially oriented businesses and initiatives and lower unemployment in Palestine. 

He explained that the ministry has established a portfolio that supports businesses founded by persons with disabilities, supports the establishing of vocational and technical training centers and internship opportunities geared towards persons with disabilities, and creates alliances with public and private institutions to encourage businesses to employ persons with disabilities.