Sundous lights up when she talks about her business course at the Said Khoury IT Center of Excellence.
“It was a wonderful success,” she says without hesitation. Her fellow students also describe the program as unique and inspiring. “It taught us the art of achieving goals,” adds Ashraf, a business administration student.
The business and entrepreneurship course, now in its second year, has been praised for the practical training it offers aspiring business leaders. The classes are held at the Said Khoury IT Center of Excellence at Al Quds University in Jerusalem. The IT center was established in 2002 as part of Anera’s initiative to provide students at leading Palestinian universities with the business basics to establish an IT-related business.
“Our main concern in creating the program was to make it unique and effective,” said instructor Mohammad Sharia. “Teaching students how to overcome obstacles is a significant factor in the course’s success,” he added.
The six-credit course runs for two semesters. Students are introduced to entrepreneurship and business fundamentals during the first semester. By the end of the second semester, they are expected to have built their own business plans. Guest speakers from the business world share their experience and advice.
The IT students say an important goal of the course is to serve the Palestinian community. “When you build something that serves both the community and your needs, it gives you greater self-confidence, experience, skills and determination, which affect and motivate others,” says Sundous.
Before joining the program Ali and Ayham, computer science students, figured they would just get a routine IT job. After completing the special business course, they want to develop their own business. “The only problem is funding,” Ali admits. Ashraf agrees but insists the challenge of finding the funds won’t deter them from realizing their dream.
With the assistance of generous private donors, Anera has extended the IT Centers of Excellence to other universities, including Arab-American University in Jenin (2005), Palestine Polytechnic in Hebron (also in 2005) and Birzeit University in Birzeit (2008).
The centers offer training and international certification programs in software programming, systems and web development and other business services. Job placement and business incubation services also help connect graduates with business opportunities.