Our mission is to create an entrepreneurial community of leaders to shape a more peaceful Israeli-Palestinian future built on trust.
OGS was founded at Brandeis University in 2014 by Ohad Elhelo, a then Brandeis undergraduate, and Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts (2007-2015) as Chairman of the Advisory Board. We were the first startup incubator to use entrepreneurship as a neutral vehicle to unite emerging leaders from Israel and the Palestinian Territories (the West Bank and Gaza). In 2016, we flew our first cohort to Boston.
Since that first year, we’ve completed four cohorts, graduated over 100 alumni, and incubated more than a dozen ongoing startups that have generated jobs and improved the lives of thousands in the region. Today, OGS is led by Lobna Agbaria as Program Director and Ambassador Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary of State (2005-2008) & U.S. Ambassador to NATO (2001-2005), as Chairman.
Our work would not be possible without our hosting institution, Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management, ranked as a top ten social policy school by US News & World Report. Additionally, OGS is honored to partner from the very start with MassChallenge, the world’s largest start accelerator, and since expand its partnerships with MIT’s designX and Game Lab accelerators and MISTI’s programs. Our vast network of world-class institutions, Advisory Board members, philanthropists, leaders, mentors, coaches, and friends around the world is what powers Our Generation Speaks.
Each year, we handpick a group of exceptional individuals who leave their home countries, families, friends, and work environments to be immersed in one of the most innovative cities in the world. With the support of cutting-edge mentorship and seminar programs, our fellows build startups from scratch, creating jobs and changing lives in the region. And long after graduation, fellows stay involved with our robust alumni community through a series of workshops and gatherings—building a powerful network of change agents that stretches across borders.
Since our inception, we’ve nurtured a dozen successful startups, which in turn have raised over $5.5 million in external funding. And we’re still growing. We’re excited to be ramping up our efforts, expanding our cohort from 30 fellows to 50 in 2021.
Our approach is built on 3 sturdy pillars: the fellowship, the startups, and the alumni. It’s simple. We power up exciting, mission-driven startups that unite emerging leaders and have a lasting impact on the region.
Our 3-month program provides an ideal environment for Israelis and Palestinians to develop and launch their startup ideas, building lasting relationships in the process. After forming a team, attending a world-class seminar, and benefiting from our top-notch mentorship program, a select group of startups receive pre-seed funding to bring their visions to life.
As they progress through our startup development tracks, entrepreneurs build startups from the ground up—simultaneously creating economic opportunity in the region. To date, we’ve supported over a dozen successful startups, who collectively raised over $6 million in external investments.
Thanks to OGS Next, graduates stay connected to a vibrant 100+ member alumni community long after the fellowship is over. Through various professional, political, and social programs, alumni continue to create and maintain strong relationships back in the region, simultaneously building a powerful network.
Here are the basics we all agree upon.
Our vast community encompasses fellows, alumni, mentors, supporters, and friends who are each guided by a series of fundamental principles.
Here are the values that we firmly stand by:
Equality reminds us that we’re all worthy of respect and opportunity, whatever our backgrounds or beliefs.
Empathy and compassion remind us to love our neighbors as ourselves, continually working to understand and embrace other perspectives.
Integrity pushes us to do the right thing—always—and never lose sight of what matters.
Here are the qualities we follow to bring change:
Courage inspires us to take risks and pursue our dreams boldly, because courage is the pathway to change.
A spirit of leadership means we advocate for others, take responsibility for our decisions, and lend a helping hand to those who follow.
A “can-do” mindset encourages us to see failure as part of success. We pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off when things don’t go as planned.
Passion drives us to aim for nothing short of exceptional. We never settle; we give it everything we’ve got.
And a love of fun inspires us to explore, enjoy each other’s company, and remember to take our work more seriously than we do ourselves.