Project Pen, a creative online publishing house based in Amman, Jordan, is now a finalist in the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startups competition. Aiming to fill a gap in the market and to encourage more Arabs to write, read and become creatively involved with expression, Project Pen works as a platform for young writers and poets to share their work. Previously they have published stories on BarakaBits, ranging from quirky interviews with a Sudanese cartoonist to Saudi Arabia’s only hip-hop DJ. We talked to them about their inspirations and why they think such a venue is crucial to cultural growth and preservation.
1) Who inspires you in the Arab World? Well, many. Any start up that strives to achieve success and valuable products. But I’d like to look at Kalimat publishing house in UAE as our main inspiration. They started as one publishing house years ago and now they are with 4 imprints. Being in one space with so many amazing and inspiring start ups from around the Arab World would be a great chance to be inspired and learn from each other experiences, successes and failures.
2) What impact does participating have?
We believe it has a big one. Project Pen can be exposed to various sectors of people related to the start-up scene in the region.
3) In your opinion, what are some of the benefits of such competitions in the region?
Highlighting start-ups from different sectors, networking and getting strict training to lean up start-ups.
4) How did you prepare for the competition? Well, being confident and relaxed and just going for it. That is all.
5) In what sectors would you like to see improvement in the Middle East? Creative industries. It is a big potential that is in need of more awareness and highlighting.
7) Where did the idea/inspiration behind Project Pen come? There is a lot of artists and illustrators in Jordan and Arab World. But where are the fictional writers? That is how we started.
8) What does Project Pen hope to accomplish in the next year and a half? Being number one offline/online publisher in the region and beyond. Publishing as much emerging writers as we can.
Are you an aspiring writer, or just love reading fiction and short stories? Visit Project Pen’s official website, follow them on Twitter, and stay tuned with the competition on the @MITEF Twitter page!