Palestine – Palestinian youth who wish to transform their business ideas from vision to reality now have access to the B-Hub, an innovative business acceleration space, established by and based at Birzeit University.
The new EU-funded Business Hub (B-Hub) matches students and small enterprises, and empowers them to strengthen local businesses, improving the employability of university graduates and their readiness for the future.
The establishment of the B-Hub comes amid critical Palestinian economic and social problems, including the increasing unemployment rate, the widespread existence of unsustainable small businesses, and damaging environmental practices.
The vice president for community affairs at Birzeit University, Asim Khalil, said that the university is seeking to adjust its educational system to meet a heavy stream of demands caused by the shifting dynamics of the global market.
Khalil alluded to the fact that there is a mismatch between supply and demand in the relevant job market: “Neither do small companies find good employees with relevant experience, nor do university graduates find job opportunities at local businesses, and this vicious circle goes on forever.”
“The B-Hub, established with generous support from the European Union, will be a flexible and localised innovation space for students to develop their skills and competencies, and for small companies to build their capacities and find custom solutions to their specific problems or improve operations and grow in an organic local context.”
The director of the Center of Continuing Education, Marwan Tarazi, emphasised the important role that the B-Hub will play in Birzeit’s strategic goal of integrating learning both inside and outside the classroom.
“Equipping students with mainstream formal education is no longer sufficient to qualify them to meet the significant shifts that are happening in the evolving global knowledge economy. The B-Hub is a new, integrated programme designed to fight the most critical problems facing the local economy, through a unique approach for developing students’ competencies sought by private employers or required by new entrepreneurs as well as matching their skills with the needs of existing enterprises,” added Tarazi.
According to Tarazi, the hub will target to develop and contribute in empowering the economy. “Ninety percent of the Palestinian economy relies heavily on micro and small enterprises. However, this large economic sector receives the least attention from developmental agencies. We seek to make these enterprises more productive, efficient and successful, and contribute to the development of our economy.”
One-third of the Palestinian society is composed of high-school and university students. Seventy percent of graduates are unemployed because of the discrepancy between the needs of the local market and the capabilities of the new graduates. Private companies do not have the capacity to solve the problem. Hence is it hoped that the B-Hub might be a way of bridging the gap and providing creative solutions.