Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

Life in Israel

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Israeli commercial life and society

In addition to my work as a business coach, one of my interests is blogging about life in Israel. This is a country full of contrasts – over eight million citizens living in an area the size of Wales. You can see snow and the lowest place on the globe in the same day. Although surrounded by geopolitical extremes, Israel has achieved a decade of high economic growth. My work brings me in contact with an array of new companies, exciting technologies and dynamic characters. Sitting back with a relaxing cup of strong tea (with milk), you realise just how much there is to appreciate in the Holyland. Large or small operations, private sector or non profit, my clients provide experiences from which others can learn and benefit.

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Jerusalem’s business scene – how times are changing

The past month has seen some exciting progress in Jerusalem’s business climate. What is really encouraging is that many of the initiatives are coming from the ground up.

Jerusalem has been the united capital of Israel since 1967. Yet for decades, it had just two key sectors for employment – the civil service and tourism – and little else. Around the turn of the century, along came a few sparse giants such as Intel and Teva, providing a much needed base for employment. And in recent years, start-up successes like Mobileye and dozens in the bio sector have also made an impact.

What has been lacking has been the opportunity for the independent entrepreneur to make their mark in the holy city, which is also the capital of Israel.

As I have written before, the Jerusalem Business Networking Forum (JBNF) has been trying to challenge that status quo for about a decade. Last night, I moderated their annual speed-dating session, attended by around 50 people. For over two hours, there was deafening noise as entrepreneurs and innovators from a vast score of backgrounds swopped business cards and elevator pitches at a frightening pace.

MATI, a Hebrew title for the “Jerusalem Business Development Centre”, has just released a fascinating set of statistics. In the past twelve months:

  • It has helped and supported around 3,800 entrepreneurs and businesses.
  • It has conducted 120 seminars and courses
  • It has written over 300 business plans
  • It has helped  business owners raise over 60 million shekels, approaching US$20 million, which does include grants of a further 1.5 million shekels.

As one of MATI’s business mentors and coaches, I can confirm just how invigorating this pattern of commercial rejuvenation really is.

More specifically, I was delighted to learn that a former client of mine, Yuval Wirzberger, is one of the main figures behind 200Apps. This now boasts over 30 employees – religious, secular, Arab, and a cross over of many other cultural divides. Equally impressive was their launch this week to promote a new studio and incubator.

Now I come to think of it, it would be interesting to learn just how much of the new iPhoneX is also dependent on Jerusalem brain power!

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