By Hamzeh Ghosheh
As a fresh graduate, I understood that I would need to work hard to find the right job. The word “right” carries many meanings, one of which is “prestigious.” As a 24-year-old, I landed a job at the United Nations Development Program, serving as a communications focal point for the European Union. I had the badge and the codename and thought that I had reached my dream – only to feel the urge to move beyond this position a year later. I followed this urge against the strong advice of my immediate circle because I wanted to explore more and earn my master’s degree abroad. This journey helped me understand that I have a greater purpose in life and owe it to myself to maximize my impact on the community I belong to.
During my studies abroad, I needed to insure my car, and because I did not have a driving record, I was forced to pay a high insurance premium. I came to learn about an insurance model, usage-based insurance, whereby you are rated on your safety as a driver, and your insurance is priced accordingly. The technology used back then relied on physical devices that were plugged into the car, which led me to think of a way to offer such a life-saving service to more people. I contacted Abdallah, my friend and future business partner, and we started working on our own mobile software, Maslak, which helps drivers build a driving profile and supports drivers in their negotiations with insurance companies on insurance prices. Our vision is to help create an accident-free Palestine where everybody gets back home to their loved ones safely, every day!
As young professionals, opening a business – in our case our start-up, Naviatx – was a tough decision to take. We didn’t fully understand how to build the roadmap and avoid mistakes, what the best business or revenue model might be, and, most importantly, whether we would be able to entice potential customers to use our solution. To be able to finance our start-up, I still find myself wearing many hats: I also hold employee positions, working as a financial auditor at a leading hotel in Jerusalem and as a business development specialist at Finbloom, a renowned business and financial management company in Ramallah. This shows some of the challenges a young, ambitious entrepreneur might face while striving to get closer to celebrating a successful exit story.
As an extension to my efforts in leading change in the Palestinian ecosystem, I also play an active role in supporting local regulatory bodies to gain exposure to new regional and international practices and develop new regulatory tools with them. Thus, I had helped develop the non-objection letter that we, as Palestine’s first InsurTech company, received from the Palestine Capital Market Authority.
Currently, my co-entrepreneur Rakan Abbasi* and I have started exploring the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). We both share an interest and find inspiration in the NFT world and hope to utilize it to preserve Palestinian heritage through the launch of a platform called “YallaNFT” community. We built this community with decentralization at its core because we believe that we all should share access and knowledge as well as resources with one another, thereby we intend to highlight and strengthen our Palestinian narrative and explore joint projects that carry individual and collective Palestinian identity. This endeavor requires the collective efforts of many people, from financial and technological experts to artists and lawyers, in order to link these projects to efforts that support local Palestinian initiatives and potentially encourage and facilitate the involvement of Palestinians who live in the diaspora, engaging them in projects in which they feel called to participate.
*Rakan works as a freelancing trainer and digital marketing consultant for start-ups and various projects and businesses. He owns XO Media, a digital marketing agency, and has founded Ayzeen, a grocery price comparison app.