Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

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.

Israel’s kibbutz movement, once considered a living success of socialism which then collapsed into an economic and ideological disaster, has more than revitalised itself.

I began to poke around on the subject when I read an article on the numbers of people living on kibbutzim. (“im” at the end of a word in Hebrew is a way to determine that the word is spelt in its plural version). In 1995, around 124,000 people had homes on a kibbutz. Within a decade, the number had dropped by nearly 10,000. By 2016, the figure had soared to 171,000.

There are currently 273 registered kibbutzim. Around half of them have housing problems. The thought is to build multistory buildings in these rural delights to resolve the issue.

There are many reasons for the renewed interest in a kibbutz way of life. I will concentrate here on the commercial aspect. The fact is that “Israeli Kibbutzim …. have invested NIS 110 million (approximately $29.9 million) in Israeli startups in 2018, a 45% rise compared with the year before.”

In other words, kibbutzim, which led an agricultural global revolution during the previous century, have finally embraced the concept of innovation and the start-up nation. (For the record, drip irrigation, small tomatoes, and many other inventions started off life in the Holy Land.)

And it is not just kibbutz funds that invest. A typical story is Zebra Medical, located on prime real estate on a kibbutz north of Tel Aviv. Its software reads CT scans and other medical reads with extreme accuracy. Over the next two years, the company will ensure that Israel will become the first country to be covered by medical imaging AI.

It is such technologies that are sought around the globe….along with the oranges, avocados and strawberries.

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