SOME 50 people attended the launch event of MasarUP, an initiative to bring start-up support to the Arab sector, last night at Google’s Haifa offices..
(photo credit: Ariel Ben Solomon)
MasarUP, the Arab Entrepreneurship Council, held its founding meeting at Google’s Haifa office on Sunday, to promote start-ups in the Arab sector with an ambitious goal of establishing 500 over the next five years.
“We live next to the Start- Up Nation but are not part of it,” said Ala Sader, director of MasarUp and an accelerator manager at PresenTense, the initiator of the new council, which is composed of Arab businessmen.
Speaking to a room of around 50 people, including Arab entrepreneurs, on Sunday evening, Sader said the council would facilitate the creation of start-ups by helping with networking and guidance.
As part of the establishment of the initiative, a study designed by Dahlia Scheindlin and carried out by New Wave Research among 500 Arab respondents showed just 20 percent of Arabs personally know someone who works in hi-tech and entrepreneurship.
The study also showed that 73 percent believe there is discrimination that is delaying or preventing the success of Arabs in this field.
Asked by The Jerusalem Post how optimistic he is about the new umbrella organization, Sader said that just as the Israeli start-up scene began with a few big successes, just one Arab success would lead to others.
Even if a start-up fails, he said, it perhaps could do well with a second chance and help create an “ecosystem looking for the first big [stock] exit.”
Ziyad Hanna, VP of R&D and a fellow at Cadence Design Systems, who is a member of MasarUp’s steering committee, told the Post the Arab community is ready to start this journey.
“The opportunities are huge and there are so many ideas and opportunities,” he said, noting that there are some 3,000 Arab employees at Israeli hi-tech companies, though only a few have started their own businesses.
With our mentorship and help with a business plan and investors, we could reach our goal of 500 start-ups, he said.
As for cooperation between Jewish and Arab start-ups, Hanna said networking and collaboration between the two sectors could increase.
Our role is “to bridge ideas and implementation,” he said.