New “Riyada” Programme boosts services for Palestinian startups and SMEs

Publishing Date

Ramallah-(BNEWS)-The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development and SPARK have partnered to launch the Riyada Building Resilience for Youth in Palestine (Riyada) programme, a one-year initiative aimed at supporting Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Business Support Centers (BSCs) to enhance their capabilities to provide essential services to startups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), stimulating the region's entrepreneurial youth for economic prosperity.

Through the Riyada programme, SPARK and Birzeit University aim to support young entrepreneurs and existing companies, and also strengthen the capacity of local providers of business development services.  The project is implemented in collaboration with outstanding Business Support Centers (BSCs) at five local universities: B-Hub-Birzeit University, Business Incubator- Palestine Polytechnic University, An-Najah Innovation Park – INNOPARK- An Najah National University, Al- Quds Business Center for Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (BCITE)- Al-Quds University, Innovation and Education Technology Center -Palestine Technical University “Kadoorie” (PTUK).

By strengthening the capacities of service providers, they will efficiently accelerate the development of SMEs, and equip them with the means to expand and create decent job opportunities.

Furthermore, the capacity of these centers to develop entrepreneurial skills and support entrepreneurs in transforming their ideas into real projects will increase through building a pool of young talented business mentors. 

On June 6, 2024, Mrs. Dina Almasaeid, SPARK’s Deputy Regional Programme Director for the Middle East, and Dr. Ala Alazzeh, Vice President For Community Affairs at Birzeit University in the West Bank, met to sign the Partnership agreement with the university’s Business Hub. This collaboration comes as a viable effort to enhance the impact and sustainability of Higher Education institutions to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and youth entrepreneurship in Palestine.

The signing of the agreement took place at the Center for Continuing Education in Ramallah, underscoring SPARK’s commitment to forming sustainable partnerships with local business development organisations that are contributing to strengthening the economy. 

Almasaeid emphasised the transformative potential of local partnerships, stating, "By fostering local partnerships and collaboration, SPARK aims to build bridges that are the vessel for lasting impact. Through our partnership with B-Hub represented by Birzeit University, we envision local partnerships at the centre of our impact on economic growth and community development in Palestine. By supporting startups, we hope to see a future with increased job opportunities and enhanced economic stability throughout the West Bank." 

Dr. Osama Almimi, Director of CCE, administrative of B-Hub, added saying “I am thankful to the Riyada Project and SPARK for another opportunity to collaborate with our valuable partner universities—PPU, An-Najah, PTUK/Khadouri, and Abu Dis. Together, we will work on addressing one of the most critical gaps in the local market of business development services, namely a scarcity of qualified business mentors. This will significantly enhance our capacity to provide high-quality services to a larger number of young entrepreneurs, even in the most remote localities.”

The Riyada programme continues forward until December 31, 2024, SPARK and Birzeit University are poised to address the obstacles hindering the private sector’s development and stability, thereby creating job opportunities and a better future for the Palestinian youth.