Israel is full of start-ups, with sites such as MappedinIsrael illustrating how they have all but taken over the country. These companies are increasingly driven by missions that look to benefit the world, with the social enterprise movement spreading from the U.S.A. and U.K. over to Israel. It is a natural transition considering the Judaic value of Tikkun Olam (repair the world) that has been integrated into Israeli culture. This article will look at a number of Israeli start-ups using entrepreneurship and innovation for the public good.
Sologic: Free wifi from the sun
Israel renewables firm, Sologic, has developed a mechanism called an ‘eTree’. These tree look-a-like installations are “a public space intervention aimed at providing a place to rest, connect to the internet and recharge devices”. They provide free wireless internet, charging stations for electronic devices, nighttime lighting and water coolers for humans and dogs. All of this is powered by solar panels that look just like tree branches! Michael Lasry of Sologic has announced that “Our aim is that in the future there will be eTrees all over Israel and worldwide…eTree is a social enterprise that aims to promote environmental awareness and sustainability, to create a link between the community environment.”
Call Yachol: Enabling integration
There is extremely high and chronic unemployment among people with disabilities in Israel, with serious consequences for those with disabilities not just on a monetary level, but in terms of what work can provide as something that gives an individual self-fulfilment. Call Yachol aims to tackle this issue. The first company of its kind in the world, it specialises in setting up outsourced call centers staffed mainly by people with disabilities. They employ 200 people with physical, emotional and sensory disabilities – the biggest employer of people with disabilities around the globe. The company is aiming to recruit another 1000 people with disabilities from all over the country. Its social business model is one that is sure to be taken on and replicated across the world soon.
Ringelblum Café: assistance through employment
Established in 2009 by NGO Tor Hamidbar, the Ringelblum Café assists at-risk 16-18 year olds in Beer Sheva through employing them in the kitchen and as wait staff. Through a year- long training program, youth are empowered and assisted in becoming self-sufficient, often then enlisting in the IDF and joining the workforce. The café employs a social worker to assist in the transition between “tough teenhood and the food service”.
Compost Hakerem aims to significantly reduce the amount of waste generated by the Israeli population by turning it into commercially useful compost through an ecological process using red worms. Through consulting with municipalities and corporate clients and their sales of quality compost, they no longer depend on philanthropic funding but have transformed into a self-sustaining social enterprise.
Spin-it: spinning out social solutions
Spin-it are the latest social impact startup to enter the game, in the process of developing technology to make the aerial firefighting process more effective. They are currently in Australia engaging with the major emergency services agencies.
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