“I only got one vote, and I voted for myself,” she said. “I wanted to leave the event.”
However she returned in 2012 and won with the same idea that had been dismissed a year earlier.
When she was asked to deliver a pitch for Wasselni in Egypt and Jordan, and Israel granted her permission to travel, she asked for her father’s permission. He didn’t reply.
“Suddenly the borders were open, and I was told I had to leave a week in advance, and I told my father I would have a business trip next week,” she said. “He said, ‘OK, I will tell you yes or no tomorrow.’”
“He didn’t say anything, but he let me go,” said Abultewi. “That day I made one of my dreams come true — to travel alone.”
She eventually secured seed funding from Palinno, a Palestinian mentorship program. Since the launch of Wasselni, a thousand users have created profiles, and 120 rides have been booked.
Even her father has come around to her way of thinking. He’s working on his own startup idea incorporating his furniture-making skills and now encourages Abultewi to involve her four sisters and three brothers in her work.