Not too long ago, Jordanian society had been primarily characterised by rural and nomadic culture. In the past 2 decades, however, urbanisation skyrocketed to just over 90%, with a significant multitude residing in Jordan’s vibrant cosmopolitan centre, Amman. As a result, this phenomenon led most development efforts to be focused on the capital, thereby overlooking other cities and rural areas.
Today, other governorates are seriously lagging in terms of income, opportunities, and innovation. As such, in an effort to mitigate such disparities, JADE Project, co-funded by the European Union, targets other urban centres like Irbid and Aqaba as well as remote rural areas like Al Jazzazeh and Grasia.
A group of startups during a legal training at ShamalStart in Irbid, Jordan
In an attempt to boost underdeveloped entrepreneurial ecosystems, JADE supports two key incubators: ShamalStart in Irbid and iPARK in Aqaba. Although they both support early-stage startups adopting and inventing innovative ideas and technologies, the two incubators have different focus areas. While ShamalStart concentrates on industrial design and manufacturing, iPARK is sector agnostic. ShamalStart received one-on-one consultancies for startups on import export strategies, supply chain, and product design. iPARK, on the other hand, received an intensive marketing and outreach package to attract entrepreneurs in Aqaba and shed light on its diverse programs and services. Together, the two incubators supported more than 50 startups, which will ultimately graduate to operational companies with products and services that can be sold locally and exported abroad.
Moreover, recognising the importance of rural development as an agent of change to address disparities in economic opportunities, JADE further supports women cooperative associations in two villages in the governorate of Jerash: Al Jazzazeh and Grasia. Collectively, they comprise about 100 local members supporting multiple projects such as awareness sessions and workshops as well as productive kitchens and dairy factories that serve items like Labaneh, pickles, and olives. Through JADE, representatives from both cooperatives participated in JOTEX – a sustainable tourism expo where they met suppliers and operators to place their members on the tourist map and introduce new economic opportunities for the villages in general, and the women in particular.
In conclusion, JADE hopes to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth and development nationwide by diversifying both demographics and areas beyond the Jordanian capital of Amman.