This week UK-based aid and development agency Mercy Corps received a major international award for its work to support Palestinian information and communication technology (ICT) companies, alongside its consulting partner CIMS. They won the prestigious Digital Opportunity Award for their programme building links between Palestinian and Israeli ICT companies as a step towards peace in the region.
Mercy Corps and CIMS received the award jointly in Amsterdam at the World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WISTA) ICT Excellence Awards in recognition of their ‘remarkable and successful’ work in building closer business relationships between Palestinian and Israeli companies.
The programme involved an extensive awareness-raising campaign and proactively building business relationships, through meetings and the launch of a new website and report , all aimed at promoting the capabilities of the Palestinian ICT sector to the Israeli and international market. It gave business people involved in the ICT industry from both sides the opportunity to meet, discover their mutual business interests and show the benefits of co-operation rather than confrontation. The programme also focused on providing Palestinian entrepreneurs with the training, technical and financial support needed to create high growth, professional businesses.
Executive Director for Mercy Corps’ European Headquarters Mervyn Lee said:
"Mercy Corps works hard across the world to support local people to create lasting change in their community in a whole range of ways, and we are delighted to receive this award for our work with Palestinian, Israeli, and international ICT companies. This programme proves that focusing on business interests can help bring Palestinian and Israeli people together, and has shown the great potential of the Palestinian information and communication technology industry.
"This project benefited greatly from the support of the British Government and the European Union. The ongoing support of donors and private sector companies allows Mercy Corps to make a real and sustainable difference for people across the world."
Ziad Jaser, Mercy Corps ICT Programmes Manager in the West Bank said:
"When we first approached Israeli and Palestinian companies about this initiative they were not interested in working with the other side. Over time we have seen Israelis and the international community become increasingly aware of Palestinian IT companies, capabilities, and the potential of outsourcing, which makes our hard work on the ground worthwhile. "
British Consul General Richard Makepeace said:
"I congratulate Mercy Corps on receiving this prestigious award. We are proud to be working with them on this high quality project which offers exciting new opportunities to Palestinian entrepreneurs in one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the economy. It is one of a number of British initiatives to stimulate private sector development and economic growth in the region, and it has opened up new opportunities for cooperation, regionally and internationally. I have been very impressed by the quality of all involved in the project, the enthusiasm they have generated, and the potential the Palestinian IT sector has shown."
Mercy Corps would like to acknowledge the important contributions of the programme partners: Consulting & Interim Management Solutions (CIMS), Intellect, the Palestinian IT Association of Companies (PITA), the Israel Association of Electronics & Software Industries (IAESI), and Palestinian ICT Incubator (PICTI).