While US and European banks tighten their belts, the Middle East’s financial sector continues to expand–and Palestine is becoming one of the fastest-growing banking communities in the region. The West Bank and Gaza are now home to 18 commercial banks, with total assets of more than US$8-billion. In a recent interview with The New Economy, Bank of Palestine chair and CEO Hashim Shawa reported that in the past decade, he’s seen local bank deposits rise by 94%. Meanwhile, financial services firms are also boosting their presence: KPMG has returned to Ramallah after a four-year hiatus.
It’s no wonder that a slew of job opportunities are opening up for college graduates here. Recognizing this new potential, Souktel has partnered with the Education for Employment Foundation (EFE), which specializes in training youth before placing them at a job in their field. EFE now uses Souktel’s mobile JobMatch service to link new graduates with financial sector work in Palestine, through SMS alerts and job searches.
“We’re now in an era where mobile phones are everywhere, explains EFE’s Darin Zeidan, “so we believe that using mobile to connect youth with jobs is critical, especially in fast growing sectors like finance. This is why we came to Souktel”.
Using JobMatch, 23-year-old Mohammad Amin Taha from Salfeet learned about one of EFE’s training workshops through a text alert to his mobile; he immediately signed up. Before joining the service, Taha felt that he lacked the right resources to find jobs in his field of accounting. Now, he’s completed an EFE training course and is awaiting placement at a local firm, relieved that the search is over.
Meanwhile, Fadi Wahbi Eid, a 25-year-old graduate of the Al-Oma Institute with a diploma in IT, has just started working at the Palestine Commercial Bank in Ramallah after responding to an SMS ad on the JobMatch service.
“I spent six months looking for work,” he says. “My father, who works at Birzeit University, told me about Souktel and encouraged me to register. The JobMatch service is unique and it provides real results–I now have a job and am so happy, because this is just what I was looking to do in my future.”