Amir Grinstein, an Israeli native and an associate professor of marketing at Northeastern University in Boston, has always been passionate about peace-building between Israelis and Palestinians. His new initiative 50:50 Startups seeks to continue in that vein by fostering collaboration between entrepreneurs on both sides of the political barrier.
The idea took root two-and-a-half years ago, when Grinstein was approached out of the blue by his future co-founder, Eran Heyman, an Israeli living on the East Coast and founder of Ericom Software, a New York-based software firm.
Heyman had an idea based on both Israel’s startup culture and the talent and potential he saw in Palestinians; the only issue was that Israelis and Palestinians were not meeting each other. He wanted to build a platform that would have Israelis and Palestinians develop startups together with equal ownership.
Grinstein loved the idea — both in its simplicity and its underlying equality, which firmly fit in with his view that politics can drive change. The duo was joined in the initiative by other Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and a European who all saw value in the concept.
“Regardless of any political resolution, this trust-building mechanism, collaboration, equality through startups makes sense for everyone,” Grinstein said of the nonprofit. “Instead of throwing rocks or rockets at each other, they try to develop relationships, get to know the other side and even be successful in creating economic value and social value to their communities. That’s huge.”
Read More: Times of Israel