Using Entrepreneurship to Save the World. Really.
Every time we turn on the television or read a newspaper, we're faced with some horrible images that are occurring in the world. It seems that good news is few and far between and bad news plays a prominent role both in our minds and daily feed of media. What the media fails to cover is the good stuff. I know it's there, on Page 4, but I often wonder why not Page 1?
As a result, I'm inspired to write about awesome things that are going on in the world, in those regions that you only usually hear bad stuff about. I felt inspired to write about people that are building products and services in the face of adversity. I am not totally focused on the Middle East, it's just that it is undisputedly the most talked-about region in the world when it comes to current day conflict. The following is just a few examples of many:
Gaza. I am not going to get political, mostly because I think it is an utter waste of time. (Sorry haters.) What I will do is expose facts that we know is happening. While bombs are going off in the background, a group of aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators are building things. In the middle of war-torn Gaza, there is Gaza Sky Geeks, a tech incubator. Most of us work in a nice cozy office with coffee and cronuts (maybe not cronuts) and these kids are plugging away while stinger missiles are detonating a block away. Check out this awesome Wired article to learn more about Gaza Sky Geeks. While politicians are debating and making decisions to launch air strikes, these kids are plugging away building their dreams.
Jordan. According to the Council on Foreign Relations: “Jordan’s political stability is threatened by the influx of large members of refugees and other spillover effects from the Syrian civil war. More than 596,000 refugees have flooded across the border since 2011—in addition to Jordan’s two million Palestinian refugees—severely draining Jordan’s economy and limited natural resources” - cited in this online article.
Despite all the adversity, Jordan is considered the darling in the Middle East startup world, with hundreds of startups currently being built in different incubators and accelerators. Although startups are on the rise in the Middle East, Jordan is seen by many as a leader in the region. The country lacks the oil and natural resources of many of its neighbors, which may be a big reason human resources is super important to them. In this battle, I will take the underdog any day of the week!
Israel. Israel is surrounded by hostile forces. Frequently, the Israeli defense system that shoots down rockets -- the “Iron Dome” -- is deployed to protect the inhabitants of Israel. While all this is going on, some of the world's best technology is being created, from changing the face of the computing world with the 8088 processor (the “brain” of the first PC) to the USB Flash Drive. It is no doubt that Israel has some of the most talented and brilliant developers and engineers. The technology that comes out of this heavily conflicted area is technology that is shaping our future. Fact: We will enhance the life expectancy from what is being built out of Israel. So again, when the politicians are debating, and lives are put in danger, the brilliant minds are creating groundbreaking technology, regardless of what the surroundings are.
Kuwait. Kuwait is a place that is close to my heart, mostly because I just came back from a trip there. I was sent by the U.S. State Department, as part of the U.S. Speaker Program in an effort to inspire entrepreneurship throughout the region. Entrepreneur Media will be launching the documentary about the trip in the next few months. Stay tuned.
What I learned in Kuwait was truly fascinating. More than 90 percent of working Kuwaiti citizens are employed in the government sector. Thousands of Kuwaiti students study for business and technology degrees in the U.S., but return to find current Kuwaiti business and economic regulations a barrier to the creation of new businesses. The Government of Kuwait has announced funds and programs to inspire entrepreneurship and its WORKING.
Even though there is a lack of global coverage that so many startups communities have, events are taking place, communities are being built, and relationships are being made. There’s so many awesome people to look up to and even more people willing to work together towards something greater than themselves.
Kuwait startups are on the rise. I have seen it with my own eyes. Watch out, Middle East, because here they come!
New York City: I know New York is not the MIddle East (duh) but NYC is a testament that we can not only live together, we can work together. If you ever come to AlleyNYC and take a look around, you will see a very diverse group of people -- all races and genders, etc. We are all collaborating and working together in a cohesive, innovative environment. The vibe of the space pulsates through your body like a rush of electric energy as you walk around and feel the greatness. This is not by coincidence; this is by thoughtful design. We don't look at where you are from, and what you look like when we select you to be a member of AlleyNYC. We look at how awesome you are and would we chill and have a beer with you. The results from a diversity standpoint are amazing. It's what we call “awesomesauce,” and it's phenomenal.
I am not the smartest person in the room, and I am a bit naive when it comes to global geopolitical ideology (ignorance is bliss). But I do know that great things happen when you overlook pre-conceptions and deep rivalry. Some of my best friends are Red Sox fans, and I am a lifetime Yankee fan. For those of you who know, this could be as controversial of a Jew marrying an Arab. To me, it's all ridiculous.
Now, I know that some of you are probably pissed off by this. Maybe you think that Jason is a “traitor” or taking sides. Let me make it clear that I know that this isn't a game where we should be taking sides.
I'm only suggesting that we look past the politics, and focus on what everyone one is building so we can create things together. One global community of creators, building things that will make this world a better place. And it is through this global collaboration that I feel we can save the world. HUSTLE ON.
Related: 6 Ways to Avoid Getting Screwed