(The following letter was received from friend al-Amjad Tawfiq Isstaif, member of the Startup Weekend Damascus organizing team.)
I’m writing on behalf of my colleagues and friends at Wikilogia – the community partner/organizer of Startup Weekend Damascus. We’ve been working hard for the last year promoting entrepreneurship here in Damascus. It’s important for us share our vision for what needs to be done to support entrepreneurship in Syria.
As you might already know, the circumstances in Syria are bad. It’s really hard to talk about startups and entrepreneurship in general. We did our best back in February 2014, hoping that things might change in the short term.
Unfortunately, things have changed dramatically for the worst. A proper environment to help startups thrive is not possible in Syria right now.
This does not hinder our strong belief in the importance of entrepreneurship for the future of our country. With the help of our community of young entrepreneurs and makers, we’ve been working hard to ensure that the exciting wave of enthusiasm will not turn into a fad that declines over time.
At the same time, as part of our responsibility as local leaders, it’s important for us to be honest and realistic about how hard entrepreneurship is in the current Syrian situation. For this reason, after many meetups and discussions with our community members, we concluded that another Startup Weekend event is not the right step towards a thriving startup community. We believe the 54-format doesn’t deliver the right message about how hard and what it truly takes to start a business now in Syria. We recently published a blog post informing our fans and followers.
As I mention in the blog post, the most important thing we need to do is to continue our mission at Wikilogia – to build a community platform which gathers and connects the ambitious, Syrian youth working on their dreams.
Startup Weekend was a huge success and helped us draw the attention of a large audience of youth and youth supporters to the importance of entrepreneurship. Without UP Global’s support and belief in our efforts, our mission would have been much harder to gain momentum around. We’re really thankful for everything the UP community has done to help entrepreneurship spark in Syria.
We promised our community to carry out the message, and we will always feel happy to share with you our new insights and findings along our journey.