October 15, 2011
It isn’t often that a news report overlaps with my various careers in public diplomacy, technology, and business, but a story on the CNN-Money Web site this week brings it all together. Jeff Bussgang, general partner at the venture capital firm Flybridge Capital Partners in Boston, writes about his recent experiences meeting with a group of Palestinian entrepreneur CEOs during their USAID-supported visit to the U.S.
Bussgang, a self-professed ardent Zionist who used to live in Israel, had been recruited to talk with the delegation invited to the U.S. when Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick visited Israel and Palestine earlier this year on a trade mission. At first Bussgang wasn’t sure about taking part. Would helping build a strong information technology industry in Palestine be a good thing?
“My conclusion,” said Bussgang, “100% yes. And after meeting with the Palestinian CEO delegation, I would say 200% yes.”
“I was blown away by the group of Palestinian entrepreneurs; they had more in common with entrepreneurs in Boston, Silicon Valley and NYC than probably many of their own people,” Bussgang continued. “They could have stepped right out of Techstars central casting — smart, scrappy, ambitious, hungry.”
He also noted the catalytic role played by the USAID representative accompanying the delegation, “assigned to the region to foster more business development with entrepreneurial companies.” Bussgang said he hired a Harvard Business School student from Ramallah on the West Bank to join his firm. The student had worked for a Palestinian venture capital firm last summer.
“[I]f these ten entrepreneurs are any indication,” says Bussgang, “there’s hope yet for peace in the Middle East through posterity and entrepreneurship.”
Hat tip: Innovation America