Gaza Sky Geeks Crowdfunds to Launch Coding Academy

Gaza Sky Geeks is running another crowdfunding campaign called “Power Up Gaza’s Geeks”.  There is just over a week left in the campaign, and the group is currently at $277,869 — or 292 percent of its original goal.

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Initially, Gaza Sky Geeks had a goal of $95,000 to modestly obtain a generator, fuel, and additional staff to keep its facilities open during evenings and on weekends.  It sought to ensure that entrepreneurs and startups have access to a space that has steady internet and electricity.

ryan-sturgillThe region faces frequent electricity shortages, around six hours a day for most people.  Director of Gaza Sky Geeks Ryan Sturgill explained the rough environment that people go through everyday in the Gaza Strip.

“Gaza has the highest measured unemployment rate in the world.  It’s been through three wars in the past eight years.”

The campaign quickly met its fundraising goal within ten days of its December 13 start-date though, and thus has set its limits higher to $295,000 total.

Gaza Sky Geeks intends to launch Gaza’s first coding academy with the $80,000 extra in funds.

With an additional $25,000, the organization also intends to fund scholarships for teaching 30 girls aged 10 to 17 years old from refugee communities in Gaza how to code and entrepreneurship skills.  The team’s launch date is slated for sometime in February 2017, almost immediately after the campaign closes.

“We will bring 30 girls to our space for six months of after school computer science classes. Transport will be subsidized to reach girls located outside of central Gaza City. It will build on a very successful pilot we ran last year…”

Of Gazan women’s participation in the program, Co-Founder of Crowdpac Gisel Kordestani said;

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“It’s incredible that we’ve been able to get 50% women to participate in Gaza Sky Geeks.  I can’t even get close to 20% here in Silicon Valley.”

What is the ultimate mission of the organization’s work?

“We enable Gaza’s most talented youth to earn an income through the power of the internet. We aim to turn Gaza – one of the toughest places in the world – into an internationally competitive tech hub.”

Key Silicon Valley leaders have backed the campaign. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Y Combinator Co-Founder Paul Graham, 500 Startups Partner Dave McClure, and Techstars Co-Founder Brad Feld are just a few of those who have backed Gaza Sky Geeks.  Most of these leaders have agreed to match the funding that is raised.

The Bank of Palestine has already donated $25,000.  Founder at SalesQualia Scott Sambucci also donated $10,000.

According to Gaza Sky Geeks Manager (who is a startup founder himself) Said Hassan;

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“We’re facing the worst energy crisis we’ve had in Gaza, with some homes getting as little as four hours of electricity each day. At the same time, our tech sector is gaining traction – startups are closing more investments and generating revenue. We need electricity and access to the internet so we can grow our companies further. We live in what is essentially a disaster zone, but with a good internet connection, we can build our future even here.”

Gaza Sky Geeks is a part of Mercy Corps.  The organization raised seed funding from Google.org in 2011.


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