AMIDEAST and Souktel hold Demo Cisco Entrepreneur Institute Workshops

Ramallah – March 18, 2011 – With co-sponsorship from Souktel, AMIDEAST recently provided a glimpse of what it has in store with its collaboration with Cisco to open a Cisco® Entrepreneur Institute Training Center in Ramallah, Palestine. The collaboration will bring entrepreneurship training to youth and aspiring entrepreneurs in Palestine as well as foster job creation and enable entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses in the region.

Entrepreneurship is a hot topic today, as ongoing change in the Middle East puts an increased emphasis on creating jobs and lowering barriers to starting up and sustaining successful businesses. Yet even with the demand for expertise in this area growing, public education systems are struggling to incorporate entrepreneurship education into their basic curriculum. The collaboration between AMIDEAST and Cisco offers an exciting opportunity to address these challenges and meet the changing needs of the workforce.

Two ‘Starting a Business’ demo workshops were held at the AMIDEAST Training Center in El-Bireh/Ramallah on February 25th 2011 and March 18th 2011. Each workshop offered interactive sessions with dynamic, successful Palestinian entrepreneurs as guest speakers. Speakers included Bashar Masri, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Massar International, Huda El-Jack, Founder and Managing Partner of Zamn Premium Coffee, Sam Bahour, who was instrumental in the startup of Palestine Telecommunications Company and the Plaza Shopping Center, tech-savvy communications expert Samir Nassar, and Amal Daraghmeh Masri, founding member and board member of the Business Women’s Forum and General Manager and founder of Ougarit Company for Marketing, Communications and Media. All sessions were based on the speakers’ own experiences as Palestinian entrepreneurs and professionals in their fields. Topics included Evaluating Business Potential, Do’s and Don’ts in the Business World, E-Commerce, and the importance of Creativity and Innovation.

The demo workshops, which were provided free of charge thanks to AMIDEAST and Souktel co-sponsorship, previewed some of what’s to come once AMIDEAST officially launches the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute later this spring. With workshop content developed by Cisco®, Cornell University, Stanford University, and My Own Business, Inc. and tailored for Palestine by local business leaders, the Institute offers an innovative platform with unique resources for those who want to start or expand their businesses.
Third year university student Islam Quraini noted: “I was not expecting to attend such an amazing workshop. It exceeded my expectations! The content without question influenced me and helped me to get new skills on how to succeed in my project. I learned something important today—entrepreneurship is about never forgetting that with determination we can change the impossible to the possible.”

Another student’s response testifies to the Institute’s high level of impact: “Before the workshop, I didn't know much about entrepreneurship and I thought it was just a complementary sector… but after the workshop I appreciate how it is crucial to be an entrepreneur in your community to improve economic growth," commented Hadeel Almimi, fourth year university student in business. “I was inspired by the personal stories I heard from Palestinians who started their own businesses and now find success, and hope to do so myself” she added.

Indeed, the passion in the room was palpable, noted by a number of organizers and presenters, particularly representatives of AMIDEAST, who were pleased with the turnout and the enthusiasm given the effort and resources that AMIDEAST is investing in the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute in Palestine: “We’ve been impressed with the level of interest shown so far in the demo workshops and believe that bodes well for participation in the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute once it’s launched” said Institute Program Manager Ashraf Abumaraq. Souktel was pleased with the result as well. JobMatch Project Manager Lana Hijazi noted that “Souktel received over two times the number of responses than available seats for this opportunity. We are always happy to work with JobMatch partners to alert our users to high quality opportunities, and it is especially exciting to engage with collaborations like the AMIDEAST/Cisco Entrepreneur Institute partnership, which promises to bring even more opportunity to Palestine through fostering the growth of the Palestinian economy.”

“AMIDEAST is proud and excited to have been chosen by Cisco as its partner to launch the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute in Palestine, and we look forward to working with Cisco and a variety of local partners in our shared pursuit of the growth and sustainable development of the Palestinian economy,” commented Steven Keller, Country Director of AMIDEAST.

AMIDEAST will begin offering the first Cisco Entrepreneur Institute workshops in Palestine later this spring and during the summer. Anyone interested in further information should contact Ashraf Abumaraq at



AMIDEAST is a leading American non-profit organization engaged in international education, training and development activities in the Middle East and North Africa. AMIDEAST’s long-term commitment to strengthening human resources and institutions in Palestine started in 1957 when our first office opened in East Jerusalem. Today with offices not only in East Jerusalem, but also in Ramallah/El-Bireh, Nablus, Gaza and Hebron, AMIDEAST remains committed to advancing this goal through an expanding and dynamic portfolio of education and training services, to which we are proud and pleased to be able to add the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute. For more information about AMIDEAST, visit

About the Cisco Entrepreneur Institute
The Cisco Entrepreneur Institute supports entrepreneurs worldwide by working with local government and business organizations to foster the creation and success of small- and medium-sized businesses. The institute provides practical business insights for entrepreneurs, facilitates knowledge sharing with local business leaders, and shows participants how to take advantage of technology to speed business growth. Its results-oriented approach creates long-term economic and social prosperity for entrepreneurs, communities, and nations. At the same time, it extends Cisco’s business and social impact around the globe. More information on the Institute is available at

About Souktel
Founded in 2005 by young graduate fellows at Harvard University and the Arab-American University of Jenin (Palestine), Souktel is the Middle East’s first-ever mobile phone service that matches young people with jobs through a simple SMS software platform. Headquartered in North America and Ramallah, Palestine, Souktel helps change the lives of young people across the globe—providing its SMS JobMatch services to thousands of young job-seekers and hundreds of employers in the Middle East, North Africa, and East Africa. Souktel serves youth in emerging markets that have low Internet access, but high rates of mobile phone ownership. More information about Souktel can be found at