#Asia Dave McClure and Marc Benioff are helping build Gaza’s first coding school



Coworking space in Gaza. Photo credit: Gaza Sky Geeks.

The Palestinian territory of Gaza might make headlines for all the wrong reasons but it’s stated to have one of the highest levels of education and internet access among the Arab population.

However, the tiny strip of land is plagued with problems like irregular electricity, restrictions on mobility for its residents, and a crippling lack of coding academies. That’s why there’s a new crowdfunding campaign to launch Gaza’s first coding school.

The campaign initially set a goal of US$95,000, but it’s already blown past that and currently sits at US$210,000. The team’s now set a mark of US$400,000, which will help it facilitate 22 internships for Gazan techies in Europe and the US, buy a generator to ensure uninterrupted electricity, and launch a program to train high school girls to code.

The people behind the campaign are Gaza Sky Geeks, a startup accelerator and coworking space in the strip. Gaza Sky Geeks was initially set up by Mercy Corps after a grant from Google in 2011. It’s one of only two Google for Entrepreneurs partners in the Arab world.

The campaign’s also being pushed by the likes of Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and 500 Startups founding partner Dave McClure, as well as other tech titans such as Paul Graham, Eric Ries, and Fadi Ghandour. They’ve committed to match all donations made to the campaign. Dave McClure, who’s a board member at Gaza Sky Geeks, has also personally traveled to the region in the past to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs and help kickstart freelancing efforts.

Iliana Montauk, co-founder of Gaza Sky Geeks, tells Tech in Asia that the funds will be used to keep the coworking space running in the evenings and weekends for three years. It also plans to host events and offer the space to tech companies to make it financially sustainable.

The coding academy, once built, is expected to break even within three to four years.

“Gazans are smart people working on ideas for companies,” said Dave McClure, in a press statement. “They deserve support and investment just like any other startup founder anywhere else in the world. To some extent, they have even more hustle because they’re working in such a tough environment. They may actually be some of the best entrepreneurs in the world.”

“People in Israel and the tech community in particular, are praying that life improves for Gazans,” adds Zach Abramowitz, co-founder of Tel Aviv-based ReplyAll. “All the power to them.”

This post Dave McClure and Marc Benioff are helping build Gaza’s first coding school appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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