What is 50:50 Startups and what does it seek to achieve? Here are some words from the Board Members about the organization.
We are using the platform of technology and entrepreneurship to bring [Palestinians and Israelis] together: we harness the value of diversity by bringing people who are very different from one another. [Along with] the symbolic and beautiful notion of equality, this is a space where they can be equals, [and] where they can work as equals.
With the message of 50:50 and saying "we are equals, let’s make it happen - you have 50 and I have 50, so let’s start to talk" -- you give both sides a feeling that they are equal, and [they will] fight to make [success] happen [...] In order to achieve [their] goal, they start to work together, and they forget that they are different.
I strongly believe there is no better way to establish understanding and partnership between two conflicting sides than constructive, purposeful contact. Layered on top of that, I also believe that the grit, drive and appreciation for the underdog that characterizes the startup mentality is excellently suited to help evolve that purposeful contact into meaningful business opportunities, networking and building something impactful.
50:50 Startups is an extraordinary and unique initiative that enables all of us to imagine a better future for Palestinians, Israelis and the entire Middle East, placing all of us at a level playing field and giving an equal [chance] of success to every entrepreneur who is willing to invest his or her energy, motivation, ambition and talent, regardless of background, gender, religion or affiliation.
We take, as I would view, the best parts of both [peacebuilding organizations and venture incubators]. The best part of peace-building organizations is getting people together to talk about specific issues collaboratively: you don’t just talk about the trauma and history of the conflict, but also what you can do about the future. We also take the best things about incubators and accelerators: we want to create something beyond the program, and we want to create a business beyond the program.
[With] businesses being developed, people being motivated, ideas being materialized, people [working] together, investments [made] in a startup—[and] having a realistic outcome, a tangible outcome [for] those startups, [are] exactly —to me—the most memorable experiences [at 50:50]. Once [the startups] materialize and the dream becomes a reality, to me that is unforgettable.