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TAP This Palestinian-Dutch App for Remote Job Opportunities

TAP is a Palestinian-Dutch startup that aims to empower Arab youth to start careers at global organizations by increasing their readiness and facilitating connections with companies looking to hire remotely.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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The Talent Acceleration Platform (TAP) is a Dutch Palestinian startup that upskills talent in Palestine (soon expanding to other Arab countries) and matches them with international tech companies across the world. In the past two years, over 200 people have landed tech jobs via TAP. This year alone, the startup plans to create over 250 jobs. 

TAP offers four-month programs in software development, business development, and digital marketing. The programmes are all online and include technical training alongside an integrated soft skills curriculum, one-on-one mentoring sessions, career coaching, and virtual traineeships. 

TAP aims to empower Arab youth by providing training and connecting them to remote job opportunities at global companies. “Our job is to increase the readiness of the Arab youth for these opportunities and to facilitate the connection between them and the companies that are looking to hire. 300 people are being trained this year, and 80% of them should get jobs in high-tech fields. We're present in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jordan; we're moving to Lebanon soon,” Jafar Shunnar, co-founder of TAP, tells Inc. Arabia in an interview. 

Shunnar tells us that the TAP team is mostly international, and the majority are women. “Our team has 30 people scattered across MENA, Africa, and Europe. Our job landing rate is over 70% right now, but it's quickly reaching 80%.”

Christian Vezjak, CEO and co-founder of TAP, tells us that the startup invests not only in the flow of capital but also in knowledge: “It's not about just being able to write a CV; it is really about being able to relate to these internationally competitive work environments.” 

But the startup gets most of its talent from Palestine, and since the war on Gaza began, things have been difficult for them. “After the war, the situation in Gaza has become very difficult, and the talent and work we have there have been paused. We have been providing as much support and assistance on the ground as we can. Connecting people with ESIMs and with some agencies might help, but it is never enough,” the co-founders tell us.

However, the co-founders insist that supporting Palestinians is their core mission. Shunnar describes the tech world as progressive. But the problem is the money that drives the tech. “The capital that flows into the tech world, and the capital that is raised in the U.S. has very close affiliations with rich people who support Israel.”

“While entrepreneurs and companies would like to be more progressive, venture capitalists are doing the exact opposite. They're telling their communities a story that is not true, and they are part of the problem of dividing humanity into two groups, but there are initiatives to call them out and increasing voices supporting the Palestinian cause,” Vezjak tells us.

Since the war on Gaza began, dozens of tech movements have been launched all over the globe to support Palestine. Tech for Palestine is a loose coalition of 4,000+ founders, engineers, marketers, investors, and other techies working towards Palestinian freedom.

Or the Manara tech platform, which is seeking 100 companies to each commit to hiring at least 1 software engineer from Gaza and/or the West Bank in 2024. 

While the situation in Gaza doesn’t seem even close to resolving itself, the co-founders of TAP remain hopeful. “We hope that this whole eight-paradigm will be replaced and that investors will empower people by investing in them rather than sending them aid. People are not smarter because of where they were born. People in Palestine are street-smart and good at problem-solving. You want proof. Look at the young people in Gaza, walking around with batteries because that's how they stay connected to the network,” Vezjak tells Inc. Arabia.

Besides the war, like any startup, the TAP has other challenges. “There is a lack of financial infrastructure, like bank loans to students, and limited job opportunities. We are making an ecosystem that fits into the one we want to be a part of,” Vezjak tells Inc. Arabia.

Christian Vezjak and Jafar Shunnar met five years ago when they were both studying for their MBA. Chris is half Palestinian, half German, and Jaafar is Palestinian. Other than their love for their homeland, they both had a passion for technology. After graduation, they founded Kiitos Technologies in 2019 as an IT outsourcing company. They soon recognized a gap in the market. The light bulb moment for TAP came three years ago, after they saw an exploitive pattern of multinational companies establishing centers in the MENA region to hire the best talent at the cheapest cost.

“They want to maintain the colonial idea that if I have a large brand, I can do anything. One of the reasons we started connecting people directly with companies was to eliminate the middleman who makes so much money by exploiting local talent. Today, 16% of companies are remote. Younger companies are more distant or hybrid," says Vezjak.

TAP has been using AI to increase hiring chances for talent. “When you're looking for a job, you can either apply to one job by hand or to ten jobs with the help of AI. We use AI to increase the number and quality of applications,” added Vezjak.

TAP has raised a seed round (from undisclosed investors) and is currently raising a Series A round.  The startup makes its profit through partnerships with organizations and small subscription fees from participants in the training program. The World Bank, the Swiss Development Council, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and other private investors have also supported the startup.

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