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Gaza’s Offline Ride-Sharing App Does What Uber Can’t

One of Gaza’s first female CEOs is the founder of its hit ride-sharing app.

Your city may be on its way to banning Uber but here’s one place that never bothered (before it was cool): Gaza. Despite its plans for world domination, Uber hasn’t even tried to touch Gaza, a region without a 3G network and therefore no feasible way to implement the Uber app model. But that doesn’t mean Gaza has no use for mobile ride-share solutions. That’s why 25-year old Gazan entrepenuer Mariam Abultewi came up with Wasselni, a ride-share that works offline.

“I live in al-Nuseirat refugee camp,” says Abultewi told the Guardian. “Drivers spend a lot of time there trying to find the right passenger, and the passengers spend a long time in the street waiting for the right taxi.”

When connected to a wifi network, Wasselni uses your location to find nearby Facebook friends or taxicabs going in the same direction you want to go. The app helps facilitate carpools by letting friends in your social network to post trips and request rides. Offline, the application lets you access a list of taxi companies and drivers working in specific neighborhoods. Currently, it boasts 2,000 subscribers, which is pretty impressive for a place as small as the Gaza Strip.

The app is designed for the specific transport needs of Gaza’s community, proving the importance of indigenous entrepreneurship. The oblivious, hoodie-wearing tech aristocracy of Silicon Valley can’t imagine the kind of tech solutions Gaza needs because they’re not immersed in that reality (or any kind of reality). And Gaza has another lesson for Silicon Valley: Abultewi is one of Gaza’s first woman CEOs. Check out her team: a full roster of women developers. Take note, brogrammers.

Wasselni founder Mariam Abultewi

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