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.

As I write, about 350 people have been identified in Israel as corona virus carriers. Five are in serious condition. Thanks goodness, nobody has died.

The numbers are expected to rise, unfortunately, but there is another side to this story, one that the country can be proud of and others can learn from.

In some ways, it was best summed up by a headline from Bloomberg: “The End of the Jaffa Orange Highlights Israel Economic Shift”.

Since peaking in the early 1980s at 1.8 million tons a year, Israeli citrus production has dropped almost 75%….. Just 1% of Israelis now work in agriculture, down from 18% in 1958, while the tech sector has shot up from virtually zero to 10% of jobs today…..

In fact, there are some 200 companies involved in agritech and related fields, as if the wheel has turned full circle.

However, Israel is particularly strong in the field of biotech and pharma. It seems that this is one part of the global stock market that has at least partially managed to resist the steep fall in share prices. Yesterday it emerged that three Israeli medical companies had just raised, on the same day, US$125million between them.

There are those that argue that Israeli high-tech is well positioned to weather the economic push back from the corona virus fallout.

The fact that most of its products are virtual, which has also contributed to bringing the Israeli tech industry to its current thriving self, could help it get back on its feet more quickly following this crisis. Additionally, unlike the dot-com crisis of two decades ago, the coronavirus crisis meets most Israeli companies at a good place business-wise, with stable business models, real market needs, and paying customers around the world.

Personally, I think this is wishful thinking. That said, I could not fail but to be amazed at a most powerful statement from Jon Medved, the CEO of Our Crowd Funding in Jerusalem. Describing how his teams are changing their work habits in these strange times, he mentioned that:

……..some two dozen companies on OurCrowd’s portfolio develop technologies that pertain directly to the corona crisis, from a company developing remote patient monitoring technologies to a company creating new kinds of disinfectants.

Staggering!

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