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Building Startups in the Developing World

Mark Marich

An increasing number of developing economies are turning to new firm formation in their efforts to reduce poverty and generate sustainable wealth. A new partnership between Startup Weekend and global humanitarian agency Mercy Corps will add to those efforts, expanding the access and impact of a proven model for business generation.

In 2011, Startup Weekend helped organize over 250 events in 65 countries around the world.

“Although the startups we promote are technology based, our primary focus is community building,” said Marc Nager, CEO of Startup Weekend. “Like Mercy Corps, we look for ways to strengthen and support communities by bringing together many people with different backgrounds to solve tough challenges.”

With relatively low barriers to entry, internet and mobile technology can serve as a potent driver of economic development and income generation in countries that already have high internet bandwidth and/or mobile penetration.

“As we examine new ways to increase economic opportunities for youth in developing countries, it has been helpful to tap into Startup Weekend’s global network of experts in technology entrepreneurship,” said Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO of Mercy Corps. “Mercy Corps already works closely with communities in many of the countries where Startup Weekend is expanding, so it makes sense for us to team up.”

Mercy Corps and Startup Weekend first began collaborating in 2011 to bring startup events to tech-savvy youth in Gaza and the West Bank. Future engagements under the formal partnership arrangement are expected to include more events in the Palestinian Territories, as well as Kashmir and Mongolia.

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