We began our partnership with Founders and Coders in November 2018 by supporting the Founders Programme.  The objective was to give Founders and Coders (FAC) and Gaza Sky Geeks (GSG) Graduates some practical industry experience as well as the opportunity to work on projects which had social impact.  Over two years Intersticia funded three cohorts of Founders each comprising two graduates from London over three months who worked with three teams of Gaza (one team per month) from the Gaza Sky Geeks Code Academy on Tech for Better projects.

One outcome of the Founders programme has been the creation of the Yalla Co-Operative, a start-up Web Design and Development Agency formed by Joe Friel, Simon Dupree and Ramy Al Shurafa, with Simon working in Berlin, Ramy in Gaza and Joe in London.  Our second Founders cohort, Kristina Jaggard and Oliver Smith-Wellnitz, acted as Class Co-Ordinators of FAC 18 and Kristina has now started working with Yalla in Berlin.

As we reflect on the programme and what we have achieved it is time to move to the next phase.

The Idea

In London Founders and Coders has recently been granted the status of a UK Registered Apprenticeship Training Organisation which means that in addition to the Coding Bootcamp FAC is in a position to work more closely with employers by providing on the job training as well as coding skills. (FAC has developed guidelines for their programme which can be found here.)

In early 2020 as Yalla were exploring how to further support their Gaza team the idea began to emerge of Yalla itself taking on Apprentices which would provide GSG Graduates with ‘on the job’ experience whilst also helping Yalla to grow as a business.

This very much fits in with Intersticia’s desire to deepening our connection with existing Fellows whist also strengthening our impact on the projects we undertake.  By continuing to invest in both the GSG Code Academy graduates as well as Yalla as an young start-up enterprise we can created a prototype programme which demonstrates the ability of a company to work collaboratively from both Europe and Gaza whilst also continuing to give opportunities to Palestinian graduates.

The idea is that Intersticia UK will fund Yalla to create such a programme whilst also drawing on GSG’s mentoring network, FAC’s support through logistics and administration, and Intersticia’s coaching and mentoring expertise.  Once developed and tested then Yalla and GSG can take the concept to other partners and employers around the world.

How it will work

As with most things Intersticia we are making it up as we go along – there is no tried and tested model for this, nor are there other examples we can draw lessons from.  Yalla is a rare entity in it’s UK-Europe-Gaza partnership structure and this would be no different, but that is why this is the perfect philanthrophic opportunity.

Yalla have crafted a very comprehensive plan for the Apprenticeship Programme which is now being refined and, as we proceed, will evolve as we all learn.

The primary aim of the programme is to provide two recent graduates from the Gaza programme to earn a living wage while also gaining experience in a real life agency and practicing the hard and soft skills that they’ll require for meaningful employment.

Secondary aims are:

  1. To provide many recent graduates with the experience of applying for their first employment opportunity within the field of Web Development
  2. To provide the opportunity of permanent employment to new graduates living in Gaza
  3. To support recent graduates in building the leadership skills that they need to work with clients either as a part of, or independently of, Yalla (soft skills, project management, confidence in spoken and written communication, experience in remote working)
  4. To support recent graduates in building solid portfolios that showcase their interests and strengths
  5. To provide recent graduates with a chance to acquaint themselves with the technical skills which are commonly used before moving on to billable work
  6. To build a sustainable apprenticeship programme that can eventually be promoted to other organisations

Our Founder Fellow Kristina Jaggard will act as the Programme Facilitator and the application and interview process will take place in April 2021 with the programme commencing in May 2021.

Intersticia’s role

As always Intersticia works in the space where things are ill-defined, a bit messy and always challenging – the space where all things are possible.  During our conversations with Yalla over the past two years it is apparent that they have sufficient technical skill to give the Apprentices their ongoing technical and business experience but there is much more we can offer in the area of coaching and help with the ‘soft skills’.  To this end we will be helping with the Interview process and then working with the Apprentices during the six months of their Apprenticeship.  In addition we have engaged Ahmed Elqattawi, an English/Business coach and mentor working with Gaza Sky Geeks and who served as my translator for Brave Conversations Gaza, to join the team as our Gaza based resource and advisor.

It has been an enormous privilege to work with FAC, GSG and Yalla over the past few years –  this new initiatives takes our work to the next level truly demonstrating the potential of a small, agile and innovative project to have broader implications whilst enabling and empowering individuals to change the world.