Citi to boost en­tre­pre­neur pro­gram for mi­nori­ties

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By NIV ELIS

The Citi Foun­da­tion said Sun­day it will in­vest ap­prox­i­mately NIS 1.5 mil­lion in Pre­senTense Is­rael, a com­pany that en­cour­ages so­cial en­trepreneur­ship, business and tech­nol­ogy among Is­rael’s mi­nor­ity sec­tors.

The grant will go to­ward fund­ing Pre­senTense’s flag­ship pro­grams in Haifa and Jaffa, and ad­di­tional work in Baka al-Ghar­biya near Hadera.

“En­trepreneur­ship has the power to ad­vance pop­u­la­tions and even gen­er­ate com­pre­hen­sive so­cial change,” said Pre­senTense CEO Guy Spigel­man.

The goal of these pro­gram is to break the “Start-Up Na­tion” out of the “Tel Aviv bub­ble” and make it more ac­ces­si­ble to Is­rael’s Arab mi­nor­ity.

The grant, Spigel­man added, would al­low the group to bring dozens of ad­di­tional Arab en­trepreneur­s into its pro­grams, and gen­er­ally pro­mote Is­raeli-Arab en­trepreneur­ship.

Is­raeli Arabs tend to have less ac­cess to high-qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, are of­ten ge­o­graph­i­cally iso­lated from ma­jor hi-tech cen­ters and must over­come lan­guage and cul­tural bar­ri­ers to thrive in Is­rael’s tech sec­tor.

Or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the Bank of Is­rael, the World Bank, the IMF and the OECD have all flagged the lower eco­nomic sta­tus of Is­rael’s grow­ing mi­nor­ity groups, in­clud­ing Arabs and ul­tra-Or­tho­dox, as among the most press­ing medium- to longterm chal­lenges its econ­omy faces.

By 2059, the two groups are pro­jected to com­prise more than half the Is­raeli pop­u­la­tion.

Among its ef­forts to boost Arab suc­cess in the higher tiers of Is­rael’s econ­omy, Pre­senTense in May launched MasarUp, the Coun­cil for En­trepreneur­ship in Arab So­ci­ety, which set a goal of reach­ing 500 Arab-led start-ups in five years. It’s con­tin­u­ing with Leap Haifa, which fo­cuses on more ad­vanced com­pa­nies seek­ing to ex­pand and se­cure se­cond rounds of fund­ing.

In Jaffa, Pre­senTense will aim to con­nect Jaffa res­i­dents with the al­ready-vi­brant start-up scene in Tel Aviv.

With the do­na­tion, Citibank Is­rael CEO Neil Cor­ney joins the Pre­senTense’s board.

“Citi’s mis­sion has al­ways been to en­able eco­nomic progress and growth and pro­mote diver­sity,” Cor­ney said.

“As such, I be­lieve that Citi’s sup­port for the tal­ented Arab com­mu­nity to­gether with Pre­senTense will not only in­vig­o­rate the Arab com­mu­nity in Is­rael, but will also help Is­rael to fur­ther gain a lead­ing po­si­tion in the global tech mar­kets.”

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