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Mercy Corps, iPARK launch social business incubator ‘Generation Impact’

Incubator helps enterprises build growth-support network

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Dec 09,2018 - Last updated at Dec 09,2018

Mercy Corps and the technology hub iPARK’s ‘Generation Impact’ incubator team pose for photo on Thursday (Photo by Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto)

AMMAN — Mercy Corps and the technology hub iPARK on Thursday launched “Generation Impact”, a social business incubator for start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Jordan.

The incubator provides these enterprises with a platform to help them build a growth-support network, which will prove vital for their success, according to the founders.

Funded by the charitable arm of Google, the new incubator enables participants to generate innovative solutions for critical local and global challenges while creating employment opportunities for youth, they said. 

“Many initiatives can be found in Jordan focusing on a certain technical sector, but what we did not find until now is a social incubator focused on the impact businesses have on society,” Programme Manager at Mercy Corps Khaleel Najjar told The Jordan Times.

“All the businesses that we are hosting here are impacting the community, one way or another.” 

“It is why we chose Generation Impact as our name — because we are focused on youth capable of generating impact whether through their final product or the employment opportunities they create,” Najjar added. 

Mrayti, a home delivery beauty service start-up, is one of the initiatives hosted at the incubator. 

“Beauty always used to be very intimate, happening inside people’s homes. The concept of spas and salons only appeared recently,” founder Romouz Sadeq told The Jordan Times in August, noting that “this idea kept coming back to me, every time I had bad experiences at beauty salons”.

“The concept of a 9-to-5 job is not culturally suitable for women in Jordan and we clearly need new working systems if we want to allow women into the labour market,” she pointed out. 

The flexibility of Mrayti allows the stylists to work from home, whenever, however and as much as they want. 

“A stylist can make between JD200 to JD2,000 monthly, depending on how much work; they want to take,” Sadeq noted, expressing her belief that “if women had more flexibility like they do with us, I am certain they would be much more eager to work and make their own living”.

Another one of the incubator’s beneficiaries, Mohammad Batikhi, founder of Bilforon, built a specialised homemade food delivery platform.

"I came up with the idea in 2016, after realising that many women have business potential but lack the right tools and resources to develop and grow their business and skill," Batikhi recounted, noting that Bilforon provides a delivery service for home cooked meals in Jordan.

During the inauguration ceremony, Mercy Corps Country Director Hunter Keith expressed the organisation’s will to support the growing digital platforms sector in Jordan. 

“All of these businesses are already making life easier for us and the community, and I cannot wait to see what the next businesses coming here will bring,” Keith continued.

“The doors are open for all youth, and support will be available for any business that comes through with real social purpose.”

For his part, Executive Chairman of iPARK Omar Hamarneh said 80 per cent of the companies incubated by the hub since 2003 remain in business nowadays.

Start-ups need to network and support one another to continue to grow in a sustainable economy, he concluded.

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