The unknown numbers of Israel’s economy
Israel, the start up nation: a record US$6.4 billion of investment poured into 623 start up deals in 2018. Foreign exchange reserves ended higher at the end of the year. And growth forecasts for 2019, even if they have been trimmed back recently, still remain at a comparatively healthy 3.1%.
However, what often counts in an economy are the micro figures. It is the combination of many small businesses, that when they are generally somehow managing to progress – stutter forward – together, then economies have a base from which to take off.
For example, in Israel, the Arab sector is gradually finding its way into the high-tech arena. In Jerusalem, ICE, a new co-working space opened up in August, catering for the specific needs of the ultra-orthodox community.
MATI, an NGO, which helps new businesses in the Jerusalem region, received 4, 530 inquiries during 2018. It prepared over 300 business plans and secured loans worth over US$12 million. (And I should disclose that I am proud to be one of the many business mentors who have been helping some of these entrepreneurs open up and develop their enterprises).
In the West Bank (settlements), the official population level reached 448,672 people. Nearly 13,000 joined the numbers in 2018, a slightly slower rate of growth than for the past decade. Naturally, this population change opens up some of the peripheral areas of the country.
For me, one of the most important stats revolves around the growing role of women in the domestic economy. I would not say that all is perfect. However, one new forum is training 2,500 orthodox women in computer sciences. And the employment level in the traditionally conservative female Arab sector has shot up to 40%.
What next in 2019? Who knows what will be the fall out from the general election in April and the probably multiple charges against the Prime Minister? In the global economy, China-USA trade wars and Brexit could have multiple repercussions.
It should be remembered that Israel survived the 2008 credit crunch better than most. The current state of its micro economy indicates that the underlying infrastructure is predominantly resilient.